The Volkswagen Arteon has just arrived in South Africa to shake up the premium car market. Travel Torque’s Melinda Ferguson attended the national launch in Joburg and surrounds.
These days, with the craze for SUVs dominating the local new car market, it’s risky business for a manufacturer to launch a traditional sedan.
But if anyone can get it right, it’s VW, one of South Africa’s most loved car brands.
Only five months into 2018, despite a depressed economy, this year could be VW’s best year yet, with record-breaking sales of the new Polo and Polo Vivo, leading local passenger vehicle sales for the eighth year in a row. (Watch out for my review of the new POLO GTI in the next coming weeks.)
Design-wise, VW’s latest flagship is anything but traditional. It’s dubbed a “four door sports coupé” due its low-slung looks, aggressive front grille, tiger eye LEDs and broad bonnet. It’s an absolute beaut.
The Arteon caused a riotous stir at the Geneva Motorshow in 2017 when it was unveiled to the public.
Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen’s head of design described the Arteon as combining “the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback.
An avant-garde business-class gran turismo, it speaks to the heart and the head alike.”
But it was VW’s exterior designer wunderkind, Tobias Sühlmann (he’s recently moved on to Bugatti) who was the man responsible for the VW Arteon’s standout looks: “Form and function find common ground here in a progressive way. In contrast to classic saloons, the gran turismo offers more space and flexibility thanks to its long wheelbase, coupé-like fastback design and large rear hatch.”
The Arteon is all about space – 2841mms in length, 1871mm wide and 1427mm tall. There’s also 563 litres of boot space, which increases to 1557 litres with the back seats down.
I got to drive both the impressive 2.0 litre TSI R-Line petrol version with 206kW and 350Nm which races from 0-100kms in just 5.6 exhilarating seconds and its diesel 2.0 TDI R-Line sibling with 130 kW power and the same 350Nm torque.
They both share a superb seven-speed dual clutch gearbox which moves quickly and easily, creating a smooth, powerful drive experience.
The cabin is premium all the way with its flight-deck layout and gorgeous lines, hosting a sporty console and high-tech dashboard with a fully digital instrument cluster.
I especially loved the infotainment display’s tablet-like glass touchscreen with intuitive gesture control.
The Arteon is packed with safety and driver aids including adaptive cruise control, a park package with a 360 degree view and emergency braking, incorporating speed limit recognition.
Particularly impressive is an active bonnet which pops up to provide a deeper deformation space, in the event of an accident with a pedestrian.
As part of VW’s strategy to keep customers who want to graduate from say the GTI hatch to something more spacious and premium, it’s clear that the Arteon is there to keep those Golf customers enthralled.
If there’s anything to gripe about it’s in its name “Arteon”.
According to VW the “Art” stands for the “harmonious lines and emotionality” while “eon” alludes to the Phideon sedan, VW’s largest sedan but only sold to the Chinese market.
It’s a little hard to slip off the tongue, but what’s in a name when the car you’re driving is such a beautiful beast?
2.0 TDI Elegance DDG – R599 900
2.0 TDI R-Line DSG – R649 900
2.0 TSI R-Line DSG – R699 900