Volkswagen’s new flagship, the all-wheel-drive Arteon 206TSI R-Line, blends the best of a limousine and sports coupe in one.
Like any prestige car it pampers its occupants with loads of luxury, but when you drive it assertively, its agility and responsiveness is simply brilliant.
At first, it doesn’t come across that way. If anything the Arteon 206TSI R-Line feels docile to the point of lethargic when Eco, Comfort or Auto modes are selected in the Adaptive Chassis control. It’s only when you select Sports mode and unlock its athletic personality, you feel the force of the 206kilowatt, 350Newton metre, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in its nose. It’s the same driveline found in the hottest of Golfs, the R and just a slight tickle of the right pedal shoves the Arteon to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds.
Sports mode and its louder and deeper exhaust note, tauter ride, quicker steering, urgent power delivery and snappier gear shifts through the seven-speed dual clutch box, best shows the Arteon’s excellent dynamics.
Once I’d discovered the Arteon 206TSI R-Line’s true character I wanted to exploit it and to do that I needed roads with more bends than straights. I soon found some and in no time was whipping through corners like I was in a hot hatch, the Arteon responding instantly to my inputs. It sticks to the road like paint with no body roll and feels incredibly planted. The way it carries corner speed and earliness in which you can get back on the throttle through a bend is astonishing. It is a real drivers car.
At all times the Arteon’s ride comfort is exceptional in all modes and while Eco, Comfort and Auto softens the ride exponentially, it’s never to the detriment of precise handling and feel behind the wheel.
Another thing that struck me about the Arteon is that it’s exceptionally quiet and gives you no sensation of speed. At times I swore I was doing 60km/h and it was more like 75; 80km/h was closer to 100km/h; you get my drift. So I had to constantly watch my speed which thanks to the head up display, was very simple.
With its low-slung roof, pillarless doors and wide stance the Arteon is a real head turner. It has slender LED headlights and slimline taillights with strobing indicators, a subtle boot spoiler and the guard-filling (optional) 20-inch turbine blade alloy wheels are wrapped in Pirelli’s finest P-Zero rubber. Its lack of chrome and the R-Line body enhancements give it a distinct appearance, while its hatchback practicality and interior acreage reminds me of the Skoda Superb.
The Arteon’s cabin is luxurious and refined, with soft leather draped over the very comfortable and supportive 14-way electrically adjustable heated front seats, that has a massage function for the driver. In the back, it is like a limousine; with expansive legroom and given its coupe roofline, a reasonable amount of headroom. The two outer seats are heated and the overall rear set ambience makes you feel like a celebrity being ferried about behind privacy glass. The soft-glow blue ambient lighting, rear vents, USB and 12-volt charging added to the long list of delights.
Dominating the flat dash is the gesture-controlled 9.2-inch easy-to-use central infotainment screen with apple Carplay and Android Auto, an eight-speaker audio with wonderful clarity. Nestled in the instrument binnacle is the 12.3-inch virtual and customisable instrument display. Fit and finish is first class, the touchable surfaces are tactile and the aluminium garnish that flows from the dash along the doors a sporty touch.
As the halo car of the brand, the Arteon 206TSI R-Line is chock-full of standard kit including a reversing camera, 360-degree view, auto-parking, adaptive LED headlights with cornering function, power mirrors, remote central locking, power windows and tailgate-with motion opening. Options run to a sunroof and different style alloy wheels and a more powerful audio system.
Naturally, this flagship has all the latest safety armoury such as Autonomous Emergency Braking that operates between 5km/h and 250km/h. For speeds under that, there’s Manoeuvre Braking.
There’s rear cross-traffic and blind-spot warning and the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist collude to keep you in your lane and a safe distance from the car in front. Take your hands off the wheel for too long and you are alerted. If you don’t hold the wheel it activates a series of safety counter-measures including checking its surrounds for cars and then changing lanes to get you into the emergency lane and bringing itself to rest.
It’s not only life-saving but must be fascinating to see in action. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an area safe to try it.
At first glance, the Arteon seems to be fighting its own family for sales, like the Audi A5 Sportback and Skoda Superb.
But the Volkswagen Group are the masters of creating opportunities for their brands and vehicles. When you think about it Audi buyers are unlikely to go searching through a VW brochure for a luxo sedan, and most VW buyers probably won’t consider a Skoda, so each has a niche to itself.
At $65,490 it is a quite an outlay for a Volkswagen, but you do get a hell of a lot of car and the Arteon 206TSI R-Line is certainly a worthy brand hero.
For more information on the Volkswagen Arteon 206TSI R-Line head to their website.