Volkswagen Arteon review

The updated Arteon comes in Shooting Brake estate format.

Volkswagen adds a stylish estate model called the Shooting Brake to its revised Arteon line. But do you really need it, or are you better off sticking with the cheaper, more practical Passat Estate?

What's this?

A Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake, which is a posh way of saying ‘Arteon Estate’, which in turn is an even posher way of doing a ‘Volkswagen carrying machine’ or ‘Passat Estate’. And it’s that latter car that rather confuses the issue when it comes to the stylish Arteon Shooting Brake.

Ever since Volkswagen did a slightly curvier four-door Passat back in 2008 and called it the ‘Passat CC’, this model has been moving ever further away from its source material. It dropped the ‘Passat’ bit of its nameplate in a facelift for 2012, just becoming the Volkswagen CC, and then transformed entirely into the Arteon in 2017 – with its parent company very keen to point out that the Arteon was a completely different beast to the Passat by this point.

Having said that, it’s hard to ignore the facts that the Arteon Shooting Brake is undercut by its Passat Estate relation for pricing, while it’s also outperformed by the more prosaic wagon in terms of its boot space. For instance, while there are subtly different range hierarchies and drivetrains available in the Passat Estate and Arteon Shooting Brake families, when there’s direct model-for-model comparison available the Passat is between €3,410 and €6,875 cheaper than its equivalent Arteon Shooting Brake. Also, the most expensive Passat Estate retails at €48,320, about the point the Arteon wagon range comes onstream (€47,845), and – with most Arteons being in excess of €50,000 or even €60,000 – there’s also no analogue in the Passat range for the Arteon Shooting Brake’s high-performance R flagship, which is a whopping €85,095.

So the Arteon is certainly positioned as if it’s an upmarket alternative to the Passat, but if you need load-lugging capabilities more than anything else then know that you get 650-1,780 litres of capacity in the Passat Estate, while the Shooting Brake is less capacious: 565 litres with all seats in play or 1,632 litres with the second row folded down. That boot is not even much bigger than the Arteon saloon’s (563 litres), albeit rear-seat passengers enjoy much more space in the Shooting Brake as there’s an additional 48mm of headroom and a colossal amount of legroom in the back of this stylish newcomer, so it does feel executive in row two.

How is it to drive?

It’s almost as good to drive as it is to look at – there can be few cars, estate or otherwise, that are as graceful and elegant on the outside as an Arteon Shooting Brake in R-Line trim, as we tested it – but it doesn’t feel appreciably sportier in outlook than the Passat. It’s composed, quiet and capable, yet not exactly thrilling or exciting.

Our car was fitted with Adaptive Chassis Control for €1,097, which offers three main settings (Comfort, Normal and Sport), but beyond that fully 15 different levels of damper control that are accessible through the touchscreen and the configurable Individual setting of the drive modes. You can dial the car up into Sport, or even take it further with one of the hardest suspension settings, but while you’ll revel in lots of grip, good body control and a strong, insistent drivetrain that delivers smooth yet urgent performance, you won’t get much back from the steering. And nor will you be able to do much mid-bend to make the Arteon Shooting Brake adjust its cornering attitude and stance. It’s steadfast and secure. It’s not scintillating.

Where it really earns its spurs is in refinement. Truth be told, on larger 19-inch alloys as an R-Line, the town-speeds ride can be occasionally too gritty and lacking finesse, as the Volkswagen can oftentimes thump and jostle over only moderate hiccups in the road’s surface. However, as speeds build, so does the Arteon Shooting Brake’s imperious sensation of total refinement. On faster roads and motorways, the Shooting Brake is absolutely at its best in the comfiest settings you can find within the on-screen menus, wafting along on its effortless midrange torque, delivering more than acceptable fuel economy, and with its shapely form cutting near-soundlessly through the airflow. It is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a devastatingly talented long-distance cruiser. But, returning to our original point, the Passat Estate isn’t exactly a shambles at the same discipline, so what you’re paying for here is to look good while you’re going about your business.

When is it coming to Ireland?

It’s available now, predominantly with 2.0-litre TDI engines in either 150- or 200hp formats. All Arteon Shooting Brakes are DSG automatics and almost all are front-wheel drive, save for the rapid R flagship with its 4Motion AWD tech. The base 2.0 TDI 150 is available in standard, Elegance and R-Line grades (from €47,845-€54,060), while the 200hp turbodiesel is available as an R-Line only (€60,125). There’s then a plug-in hybrid version with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and electric back-up, delivering 218hp; this is available as an Elegance (from €50,425) or an R-Line (from €52,410).

Any juicy technology?

The Arteon Shooting Brake has a heavily digitised cabin, as all models have the 12.3-inch TFT Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and at least an eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment. There’s a larger 9.2-inch infotainment screen available, which is standard on both the plug-in hybrid derivatives but a €1,133 option on all other engines and trim grades, save for the base-level Arteon 150 TDI where it’s not available at all. Audiophiles can enjoy an 11-speaker (ten speakers plus subwoofer), 700-watt Harman Kardon Sound system with a digital 16-channel amp, for €1,469, but not in either of the plug-in hybrids nor that base-spec 150 TDI again. rating: 4/5

To some extent, the whole point of the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake is its aesthetic appeal. Outside and in, it looks and feels grander than a Passat by some distance, somewhat justifying the price premium required to park your backside in the Arteon instead. It’s also effortlessly wonderful on the motorways and major roads of this world, if not anything to shout about around town or on a frisky back-road drive.

You could also question Volkswagen Ireland’s sense of humour and its timing – estates aren’t popular here in the first place, never mind even-more-expensive ones that are less practical than other models in the range, and now that everyone wants an SUV rather than an executive wagon then you kind of imagine that the Arteon Shooting Brake is going to struggle to achieve strong showroom numbers. That’s a shame, because it’s a marvellous, refined supermodel that would fit very easily into most people’s lives – it deserves more recognition than we fear it’s going to get.

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