► VW's Arteon Shooting Brake driven
► Slick looks, loads of tech
► But is it style over substance?
The long-rumoured estate version of the Arteon has finally arrived. The new Arteon Shooting Brake sits alongside the hatch, designed to draw you in with its sharp looks and tech.
We’ve tested it in what VW thinks will be the most popular spec in the UK: R-Line with the 187bhp petrol and a DSG auto.
What’s new with the Arteon?
Besides this new Shooting Brake estate version, there’s a plug-in hybrid model and high-performance R version coming in 2021 to round out the range. Elsewhere, it’s more about the little details, particularly inside.
The overall design of the interior has been refined with glitzier and techier details. There’s a new touch panel cluster for the air ventilation controls, haptic-touch panels on the steering wheel (also seen on high-spec versions of the updated Tiguan), ambient lighting and you can now spec wood panelling as well as metallic inserts into the dashboard. VW has also bundled together its predictive adaptive cruise with lane-keeping, traffic jam and ‘roadwork lane’ assistance into what it calls ‘Travel Assist’ – standard on both the Elegance and R-Line trims you can get in the UK. Either trim is impressively well-equipped.
VW expects the Arteon to be split 45/55 in terms of retail/fleet buyers, while the share is about 50/50 across all buyers between the Arteon hatch and Shooting Brake estate.
You’ve bored me with facts…
Sorry – let’s get driving.
The engine and gearbox specification we’re testing here is a familiar combination; we’ve even ran the pre-facelift Arteon with the same powertrain underneath.
It certainly has its upsides, namely the engine’s refinement. In this facelifted Arteon, the 187bhp 2.0-litre turbo is remarkably quiet at speed; revs being quelled with what seems like a lot of soundproofing. Even if you do hear the revs build, there’s a raspy growl to the engine note a lot like a Golf GTI (a welcome grunt that’s still shrouded in soundproofing, little more than that), with a useful torque band to exploit between 2500rpm and 5000rpm. We were seeing up to 32mpg from our drives with this engine; naturally, if you’re going to use this for long commutes, a diesel will be better placed for giving you better economy.
The DSG auto reacts quickly to throttle inputs from a standing start and shifts smoothly, even if you like to use the paddleshifters. It’s programmed to avoid shifting down even under heavy throttle loads, instead using the engine’s torque to gain speed. A sub-eight second 0-62mph sprint is plenty quick enough – you’ll have to wait for the Arteon R for a quicker variant.
Slick and easy to get on with, then, but it doesn’t stir the soul all that much.
The Arteon was always a good cruiser…
And it still is. Along with that tremendous soundproofing, what the Arteon prides itself on is a comfortable ride. Even on large R-line wheels and on passive dampers (adaptive dampers are an option, not fitted to our test car), the ride is a great balance. Even over big lumps and ruts in the road, the jolts from the large wheels are well damped. That feeling is improved with speed, so the Arteon excels at motorway cruising.
Like the Passat, this isn’t a car you come to for driving fun, with VW clearly focusing more on the comfort side of the driving spectrum. There’s a little bit of a delay between turning the steering wheel and the wheels reacting to your inputs, and there’s some unwelcome body roll under hard cornering. Again, not what you buy an Arteon for, we grant you that – get a 5-series Touring if you want some extra vim in your commute.
How is all that new tech and added space?
The regular Arteon was already a pretty practical car, space-wise, with the Shooting Brake version offering a negligible improvement. Rear space is still great, even for tall adults both in terms of head and legroom, and VW has added some neat details like small pockets in the rear seats for things like your phone.
The estate-shaped boot is 565-litres in volume – putting it roughly on par with the BMW 5-series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Volvo V90. It’s only two litres more volume than the Arteon hatch (which leads us to argue that you’re almost buying the Shooting Brake for its looks over anything else), but the difference comes if you fold the seats down – the Arteon Shooting Brake offers 1632 litres compared to the Arteon hatch’s 1557 litres.
It’s the in-car tech that is a little more irritating. The latest Arteon has come over with GolfMarkEight-itis, with touch panels replacing buttons and an infotainment system that’s become more complicated, not easier. The buttons on the steering wheel are now haptic touch panels, with an odd artificial thunk when you press down on it. It’s… weird, takes a long time to get used to and doesn’t make the bewildering array of buttons, settings you can tweak and views you can see from the digital instrument cluster any easier to tackle.
The touch controls on the ventilation dials, too, are a case of making things more difficult than they need to be; you can tap or slide the temperature controls and, while there’s an indent for it that allows your finger to know exactly what it’s pressing, you still have to spend just a little too long looking at where you’re pointing. Thankfully, they’re better calibrated than the ones in the Golf 8.
You can wake up the voice recognition by saying ‘Hey Volkswagen’ but not ‘VW’ (clunky, right?), and we asked it to navigate to a place via the postcode. Only for the system to then ask us what city, street name and number anyway. Typing it would have been quicker.
One plus point is the Travel Assist, which is pretty seamless. The predictive adaptive cruise that’s used as a baseline has come on some way from our earlier tests, with smooth lane guidance without you needing to steer (albeit for not very long before the car asks you to take control again) and some recognition of what lies ahead on the road.
VW Arteon Shooting Brake: verdict
A tricky one, this. We’re happy VW has made such a sharp-looking estate to appeal to those who think the Passat Estate is tremendously dull. But you’re almost entirely buying the Shooting Brake for its looks; the boot is effectively no larger than the Arteon hatch with the rear seats in place, for starters. Then there’s the tech overload: some of it works, some of it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
A BMW 5-series Touring is sharper to drive, while that along with the Volvo V90 and Audi's A6 Avant all feel much more premium inside than the VW does. The Arteon has value on its side, however; it's £5k, £6k and £8k cheaper than the most basic of these rivals respectively in terms of list price.
Still, the Arteon is a fantastic motorway cruiser, with an impressive ride even without adaptive damper trickery and a quiet petrol engine. The chassis itself is strong – even if the regular one is designed for comfort – which just makes us excited for trying the Arteon R in 2021.
Read more VW reviews here
Specs below for an Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line 2.0 TSI 190 DSG