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Comparing our VW Arteon with a Kia Stinger

Published: 30 November 2018

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Month 5 living with a VW Arteon: comparing with our Kia Stinger

I was never going to overturn Ben Barry’s verdict on the Volkswagen Arteon – ‘It’s just transport, isn’t it?’ – at our annual Our Cars gathering in Wales, not when the deserted roads of Snowdonia were all around us and Mr B likes lots of power and rear-wheel drive.

Now, however, away from our favourite playground, it’s a chance for him to re-evaluate his choice (or double down on his initial thoughts…) and for me to see why he’s so excited about his Kia. (Clue: the Stinger has lots of power and rear-wheel drive.) 

Read the full story on our Kia Stinger long-term test review

Arteon and Stinger are remarkably similar in some ways. Both are ‘brand builders’, designed to get their respective marques above the parapet in a crowded market. And both have ignored the temptation to be SUVs, and are instead saloons with coupe-esque lines. Or ‘scoupes’, as my wife has taken to calling them.

From there they start to diverge, though, as the Arteon has a sensible choice of four-cylinder engines (ours is a 2.0-litre petrol with just under 200bhp) and drive goes to the front unless you pick a powertrain combination that necessitates four-wheel drive. 

Ben B’s Kia is resolutely rear-wheel drive, and for the same list price as my Arteon you can have it in a yellow that’s just as vibrant, and with a 2.0-litre petrol that’s even more vibrant. Or for the price of our Arteon with options (sunroof, widescreen sat-nav, around-view camera and adaptive dampers) you can have Ben’s GT S, which has all of that kit as standard and a stonking 360bhp and 376lb ft. At which point you can make a rational case for a rear-wheel-drive saloon with a large-capacity V6 and a Kia badge.

The VW Arteon: a good-looking hatchaloon

When you drive it, you can’t really fault it either. There are a few foibles (heavy steering that’s a tad too quick, a dead spot atop the throttle, and I wouldn’t want to foot the fuel bill) but it’s fast, comfortable, with a good driving position set amid an interior that is lovely to behold. 

Kia’s sold big saloons elsewhere before – so it’s not an absolute bolt from the blue – but it’s quite a car. It could have been an enlarged Optima with all-wheel drive. Or a big American barge, given the origins of the platform beneath. Yet Kia’s done it properly, with real confidence, and the ex-head of BMW’s M division overseeing the project. 

By comparison, VW’s take is straighter. The Arteon is a big Golf beneath and it hasn’t got the likes of Ben Barry all excited. But as ‘just transport’ it’s better than the Kia. Practicality is underrated. Comfort is too often a dirty word. Everything works so simply and sensibly. Maybe it’s the difference between living in London (me) and out in the countryside (BB), but I’d rather the Arteon’s qualities than the option to occasionally turn off the traction control and bugger about with the back end.  

Then again, it might also be the difference between someone who’s about to have a child, and someone who’s emerging from the early years of parenting and wants something entertaining for the part of the school run when he’s alone…

Either way, whether enough people will buy either of these £40k ‘scoupes’ for them to be declared a success remains to be seen, but I like them both – and I like mine more. 

By Ben Pulman

Month 4 of our Volkswagen Arteon long-term test review: details like sunroofs

The ‘panoramic sunroof’ in the Arteon isn’t really that panoramic. It only stretches as far back as the B-pillars and does nothing for those in the back – which isn’t good enough for £935.

VW Arteon: not quite a panoramic sunroof

Then there’s the auto handbrake. It’s a fantastic invention, allowing you to come to a halt and take your foot off the brake while leaving it in Drive. But it doesn’t work well here. When it’s time to move, it holds on too long, the revs rise, and then you’re suddenly released, shooting off like a jerky learner. 

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: VW Arteon

Price £34,380
As tested £40,600
Engine 1984cc turbo 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 4180rpm, 236lb ft @ 1500rpm
Transmission 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
Performance 7.7sec 0-62mph, 149mph, 135g/km CO2
Miles this month 480
Total 3202
Our mpg 34.5
Official mpg 47.1
Fuel this month £82.79
Extra costs None

Month 3 of our VW Arteon daily driver test: Tim Pollard's verdict

Drove Ben Pulman's Arteon a fair bit as the support car during Sports Car Giant Test 2018 in France. It's a real sleeper hit, this car: never fails to turn heads (at home and abroad) and its ochre Turmeric Yellow paint job suits its handsome lines down to the tee. It's probably the best-looking Volkswagen on sale today.

VW Arteon long-term test review

That tailgate is the secret to its success. This is a whoppingly commodious hatchback, with all the practicality advantages that brings: you can store a lot in the boot and the rear seats have something of the Skoda Superb about them. It's a useful, family-friendly device, despite having an executive-alike exterior sheen - and this suits its regular keeper, new dad Ben Pulman, just fine.

But there's substance to the drive, too. Granted, it's no thrill-a-minute car, but then why should it purport to be? It's sensible, stolid transport and I find the refinement, the decent ride quality, the substance of the interior to lend a real quality to the VW Arteon. 

It's telling that few grumbled when they fell out of a supercar on the SCGT and into the clutches of the heated, pampered Arteon. It's a very homely car.

By Tim Pollard

Month 2 living with a VW Arteon: a conversation starter

What do all my previous long-term test cars have in common? None has started as many conversations with complete strangers as the Arteon. 

A security guard at a British car company has twice stopped me, first to ask what I was driving, and then again to commend me on the colour. The driver of a Maserati was equally keen. In fact, he wanted to wrap his Levante SUV the same hue. Desperately late for my wife’s 20-week scan, I didn’t have time to tell him it wouldn’t work; the Maser’s yellow brake calipers were akin to Colman’s whereas the VW’s Turmeric Yellow really is more Dijon.

Arteon: not a familiar car badge, yet

Now closer to baby arriving, we can’t fly, so off to Anglesey we went for a week’s holiday. On day one a couple approached in the pub car park to praise the design; on day two a chap at the petrol station told me my new Phaeton was gorgeous; and three days later my dad was wondering why a whole coach load of German tourists in Beaumaris were watching us put on our walking boots – until I pointed out it wasn’t us they were interested in. 

The attention continues back home: I just popped out to the Arteon to retrieve the fuel book, and my neighbour across the street congratulated me on driving a car that isn’t black, grey or silver. 

So much for a big VW saloon being anonymous.

By Ben Pulman

Month 1 of our Volkswagen Arteon long-term test review: the introductions

Volkswagen reckons it’s ‘an avant-garde gran turismo with svelte fastback styling’. My colleague Tim Pollard calls it a ‘coupaloon’ (and desecrates the English language in the process). And on our first trip out in the Arteon, I told my wife ‘It’s like an Audi A5 Sportback’ – which drew a blank look from someone already exasperated with my attempts to explain the visual differences between a Porsche Boxster and Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet. 

The VW Arteon is actually a replacement for the old Passat CC – but don’t let that put you off. The current Passat is really rather good, and the Arteon wades into the much-diminished Mondeo market with bloody good looks, a wheelbase stretched to almost three metres, and all the interior quality and elitist appeal a German badge offers above its common-or-garden competitors. 

VW Arteon long-term test review by CAR magazine

Prices start at just over £31k for a 1.5-litre with 148bhp, and go up to 40 grand if you want an Arteon with four-wheel drive and a detuned Golf R engine. As much as we do, we’ve settled for a 2.0 turbocharged petrol (this is a post-Dieselgate world) putting 187bhp through the front wheels. With another £195 spent on VW’s ESP-based, diff-apeing XDS system, I tell myself it’s a stealth Golf GTI.

Except for the colour – that’s not stealthy at all. VW calls it Turmeric Yellow Metallic, a £595 extra which looks great on the Arteon’s chiselled lines – and unlike my old black Focus RS, I’ll never lose it in an underground car park. 

The Focus RS – or more specifically, its appalling ride quality – is also the reason we’ve gone for Volkswagen’s £820 Dynamic Chassis Control, aka adaptive dampers that can cycle through Comfort, Normal and Sport modes. It’s familiar VW fare, but on the Arteon there’s now a Bentley-esque slider control so you can go even softer or even firmer. Currently I’m deep in the OAP end and so comfortable. 

Our Volkswagen Arteon interior: ours is R-Line spec and jolly comfy

Ours is in R-Line spec, which means a beefier bodykit and inch-bigger alloys (now 19s), while inside there’s nappa leather. Although the wheelbase is not quite on a par with a Mercedes S-Class, it’s almost as roomy in reality. We’ve opted against 20-inch wheels, or spending four figures on a stereo upgrade, or adding any more safety tech, as the Arteon already has adaptive cruise control and lane assist. But we have spent £895 for VW’s top-notch 9.2-inch touchscreen, and £935 on a panoramic sunroof that disappointingly seems no bigger than any other sunroof. 

We’ll get into the other options over the coming months, but for now it’s off to Wales. Had I still been in the Focus RS I’d have been dreading the 500-mile round trip but salivating at the prospect of a thrash through Snowdonia. This way around, I’ll enjoy the entire trip. I’m happy with that. 

By Ben Pulman

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Logbook: VW Arteon

Price £34,380
As tested £40,600
Engine 1984cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 4180rpm, 236lb ft @ 1500rpm
Transmission 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
Performance 7.7sec 0-62mph, 149mph, 135g/km CO2
Miles this month 348
Total 564
Our mpg 40.2
Official mpg 47.1
Fuel this month £45.97
Costs None

By CAR's road test team

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