What's the used Volkswagen Arteon hatchback like?
Question: What do you get if you take a Volkswagen Passat and add a splash of glamour, a smidgen of extra practicality and a smattering of extra toys? Answer: the Volkswagen Arteon. The what, now? Well, the Arteon replaced the Passat CC (latterly just CC) – in other words, it was a smoother, sharper-suited version of Volkswagen’s slightly dowdy executive favourite.
But the Arteon broke with the CC in adding an extra door: one at the rear, turning it into a five-door hatchback, rather than a four-door saloon.
You get a choice of six engines in the Arteon. Three are petrols – a 148bhp 1.5-litre and two 2.0-litres, of 187bhp and 276bhp – and three are 2.0-litre diesels, rated at 148bhp, 187bhp and 237bhp. An automatic gearbox was optional on the two lower-powered diesels and the 1.5-litre petrol and standard on the other models. Four-wheel drive, meanwhile, was standard on the most powerful petrol and diesel models and optional on the 187bhp diesel.
The equipment choice was simple: pick between entry-level Elegance and sportier-looking R-Line. The former was no base-spec special, mind you, with LED headlights, leather seats, a TFT screen in place of its dials, dual-zone climate control (as well as a separate control for the rear seats) and heated front seats all coming as standard. R-Line merely added more aggressive-looking bumpers, larger alloy wheels and a smattering of detail upgrades to the interior.
The Arteon’s sporty bent means it’s more involving to drive than the Passat, but it can’t match the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé for outright excitement. Nevertheless, it’s still composed when you hustle it along a back road, with plentiful grip and traction meaning it responds safely and reassuringly.
Choose a four-wheel-drive example and you get even more grip in slippery conditions, while models fitted with the optional adaptive suspension, known as Dynamic Chassis Control or DCC, allow you to choose between bone-shakingly firm Sport mode, wallowy Comfort or just-right Normal for the suspension.
As you’d expect, the ride in cars fitted with this technology is very good, especially at high speeds, although it isn’t perfect – occasionally, a thump from a ridge or expansion gap makes its way through to the interior when you’re pottering around in town. It’s a trait that’s exacerbated in cars fitted with the standard suspension set-up, especially when they’re also equipped with larger alloy wheels.
Inside, the Arteon’s interior is particularly appealing. True, it’s mostly shared with the Passat, but that’s no bad thing, because it’s beautifully made. There’s a beautiful 8.0in infotainment touchscreen as standard – with a 9.2in upgrade available as an option – and you also get a digital dashboard display in place of the speedometer and rev counter as standard. Having said that, the Audi A5 Sportback feels even more upmarket inside.
In both the front and rear seats, you’ll find the Arteon trumps many of its rivals for space. Granted, if you’re tall, your head will be close to the roof lining in the rear thanks to the sloping roofline, but there’s still more room than in many rivals. And there’s a huge boot, to which the hatchback opening adds some valued practicality.