What’s it like?
The Volkswagen Arteon is the company’s flagship car – not counting the SUVs – which aims to offer a swoopier-looking, grander take on the big four-door premise when compared to the Passat, with which it shares much. To that end, its striking bodywork gives the Arteon more presence than the Passat, but underneath it shares the chassis and many mechanicals with that car, as well as other Volkswagen models, so it’s a tried-and-tested formula that will feel very familiar to drive.
With its upmarket aspirations, upon the car’s launch in 2017 Volkswagen immediately targeted its in-house rival in the shape of the Audi A5 Sportback as the main competitor for the Arteon, although the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and even the Mercedes CLS were in its crosshairs too. It’s also worth considering it as a rival to some of the cars the slightly staider Passat would be ranged up against, such as the Skoda Superb, Opel Insignia, Peugeot 508 and later models of Ford’s now-departed Mondeo.
Which model to go for?
Originally, Volkswagen Ireland only planned to bring diesel Arteons here, but eventually offered petrol alternatives in too. Unsurprisingly, diesel Arteons massively outweigh their petrol brethren on the used-car market here.
Every version of the Arteon uses a turbocharged four-cylinder engine of some sort. Up until its midlife facelift in 2020, the Volkswagen was sold purely as the five-seat, five-door fastback shape. There were two versions of the 2.0-litre TSI petrol, with either 190- or 280hp, while the commonplace 2.0 TDI sat on the other side of the fuel fence, delivering 150- or 190hp in single-turbo format, or 240hp as the BiTDI.
The big changes all came during the facelift in 2020. Not only were the looks and interior of the Arteon massaged, but a whole raft of variants arrived. There was a new 1.5-litre 150hp entry-level petrol option, while a second body style was added in the form of the gorgeous Shooting Brake estate. A high-performance R flagship also replaced the 280hp TSI, this car using the 320hp 2.0-litre petrol engine from the Golf R, and finally the Arteon was given stronger eco-credentials with the eHybrid model – a petrol-electric plug-in vehicle with a 1.4-litre TSI engine and 218hp overall.
The vast majority of Arteons were front-wheel drive, with 4Motion all-wheel drive only sold on the 190- and 240hp TDIs, as well as the 280hp TSI and the R. Similarly, almost every Arteon you’ll come across on the used market will have a DSG automatic transmission of some kind; the six-speed manual, only offered on the 1.5 TSI and 150hp TDI, is vanishingly rare. DSGs were all seven-speed units, except on the eHybrid which used a six-speed transmission.
You can’t really go wrong with any of these drivetrains, but as the Arteon is supposed to be prestige, we think it deserves one of the more potent motors. The 190hp TDI is a good compromise between power and parsimony, but either the eHybrid PHEV or the R – if you can find it – make good choices too. Oh, and despite the fact Irish buyers generally shy away from estates, get the Arteon as the Shooting Brake.
Does anything go wrong?
Being based on the Passat, itself a reliable car, the Volkswagen Arteon represents fairly trouble-free ownership. Watch out for a failed rear wheel-bearing housing on pre-facelift models and loose sunroof trim, but otherwise you should be OK.
Volkswagen issued 11 recalls for the Arteon. There were two for the brake booster actuating rod, one for the engine cover, one for the luggage net fittings, one for the headrest welds, one for the front brake discs and one for the adhesive on the rear spoiler. This was in addition to recalls for the adhesive in sunroof joints and the rear wheel-bearing housing as previously mentioned, while the eHybrid got two further specific recalls – one for the fuses in its high-voltage electrical system, and another for the 12-volt battery connections.