Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2019 VW Arteon R-line
This week we are reviewing the 2019 VW Arteon in R-Line. Our vehicle was assembled at the Emden plant in Germany and has an MSRP of $53085 CAD
Fun Factor: 6
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 7
Design-wise, the Arteon looks sporty and has a refreshing new design coming from VW. Must we say that it is quite daring almost if compared to the rest of their North American line up? VW didn't choose the name Arteon name by chance; it's derived from the Latin "artem" and means Art. While we find the design beautiful and the idea of a 4-door coupé interesting, it doesn't feel very German. Especially in the city at low speed where we thought the Arteon fell short of our expectations with its lukewarm performance at lower speeds. It's not that the engine isn't powerful enough either under the hood; the 2.0L TSI engine produces a respectable 268hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It brought us to 100km/h from a still stand in 7.85 seconds in our real-life acceleration test.
We conducted this test while using winter tires and in the snow. While the official numbers of the North American Arteon situate in the mid 6 seconds, the European version achieves the same in the mid 5 seconds range. You would ask why a whole second difference between the North American version? The reason for this is that the Arteon has a traditional 8-speed transmission compared to a fast-shifting 7 speed DSG in Europe. While at a lower speed, the North American version felt like the gearing could have been tweaked a little more aggressive; on the other hand at higher speed, is were the engine shows its superiority compared to other cars equipped with a 4 cylinder, after a certain while these engine feel like they've given all they've got, this is not the case with the Arteon's engine that seems to never get tired of pushing you to higher speeds. We would see it as the perfect vehicle on long stretches without speed limits. The suspension is on the firmer side, with it being quite respectable in this segment. Cornering feels disconnected at low speeds; however, it becomes more involving the faster you drive. While the exterior look and interior space make it a winner compared to the competition, VW seems to have wanted to please the traditional American buyer when it comes to driving dynamics and doesn't seem to want to please the actual buyer of such a vehicle. This doesn't take away that the Arteon is very capable, especially in the winter and may bring a new type of client to the VW brand.
After pretty much driving one SUV after another, it was refreshing to drive a different type of vehicle and to see that the Arteon interior design excels when it comes to the lay out. The front seats provide as much comfort as the rear ones and are shaped to support you around corners and feel well-bolstered. Since the vehicle is quite low, getting in and out does requires some finesse for taller adults. The Arteon can seat up to 5 passengers; four adults may sit quite comfortably. The middle seat is better suited for kids as the bolstering isn't as soft, and the transmission tunnel removes from of the legroom the other passengers enjoy. This doesn't remove the great support the rear seats give to the passengers and to the legroom they get; we could easily see this as one of the better cars to be in the back for long road trips. The front & back seats offer heated seats as standard. The driver and co-pilot also benefit from cooled seats; the strange part is that you can have both cooled and heated seats turned on at the same time; however, when tested, the cooling feature seems to take precedence. The driver also gets a heated steering wheel standard that works quite well in colder climates, and as a bonus, you also get massaging seats! Now, the piece of resistance of the Arteon is the size of the trunk compared to other 4-door coupe's such as the Audi A5 Sportback or even the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe does have considerably less space than the Arteon. We found it quite easy to fit a large stroller in the trunk and still have space for other items. Those going to Costco on a regular basis will love the trunk. We found the space more versatile than what we would normally find in a hatchback. The length of the items that can be put inside is comparable to a station wagon without having the high benefit of such a vehicle.
The fuel economy we observed during our week test was 11L/100km; in the city, we observed 12.9L/100km and 8.5L/100km on the HWY. Our test was done while exterior temperatures oscillated between +2 and -14C. VW announces the following fuel consumption 12L/100km in the city and 8.6L/100km on the HWY. Our test was done using 91 octane premium fuel as required by VW.
On the HWY, the Arteon feels solid and likes to be pushed beyond the current speed limits with ease; you can feel the infused German DNA at high speeds, something that's missing when driving the vehicle in a more tamed way. When enjoying a long stretch of straight roads and adhering to speed limits, the Arteon feels a lot like any other American vehicle on the market. While we expected it to do poorly in the snow with its low stance, we were surprised that it did better than some SUV's on icy roads, the AWD system is something that VW should be proud of while it does add weight to the vehicle it gives it a better balance in the snow. Something we also noticed with other VW products is when the road is too perfect, somehow the soul of the vehicle is unable to shine. The worse the weather was, the more we enjoyed driving it. Nevertheless, we still think that someone who needs to drive long-distance and doesn't want to pay a premium for a luxury badge, and the maintenance cost that comes with a premium brand will be well served with the Arteon.
Now when I saw the name Dynaudio as the sound system 3 things came to mind, first, this is the same audio supplier for Bugatti, this Danish company also provides sound monitoring systems for recording studios. With all of this, our expectations were quite high; with such a nameplate, we were afraid to be disappointed. Luckily the system does deliver, especially for classic masterpieces, it can reproduce the loudest sounds we've seen possible on a consumer vehicle. The infotainment is similar to other VW's products and offers standard access to Android Auto and Apple Car Play; it works as designed and is fast enough to take all the commands you can throw at it. Once getting used to the location of the sub-menus from one of the 8 menus to choose from, items will be a lot easier to find. The touch screen works fast enough; a great addition would be haptic feedback to increase assurance that your command has been registered. What we disliked on the setup was all the gloss black around the screen, it is a pure fingerprint trap and needs to be cleaned almost after each use. The Arteon also comes started with the digital cockpit that offers navigation integrated into the cluster. In an era where more and more people are using their smartphones for everything, the choice of navigation would be fantastic.
Getting car seats inside the vehicle goes fairly smoothly, the wheel arch does eat into the door frames, so for very big car seats, a little tilting is needed before getting them installed. Once inside, you're presented with ISOFIX ports that make it quite easy to install any type of seat. With the longer wheelbase of the Arteon, putting rear-facing car seats doesn't eat up into the front passenger's space compared to similarly-sized sedans. We were able to fit 2 car seats using the ISOFIX ports; putting a 3rd booster seat does fit; however, not all booster will fit. For short distance, a young child may fit in between these seats. With only one car seat, the middle seat does become more useable; still, it isn't as comfortable as the other seats, as mentioned above. Kids trying to get into the vehicle by themselves may need some help as the door handles go upwards; once the door is open, it is a child's play. The doors open quite wide, and the floor of the vehicle is low, making it quite easy for them to get in and out.
In the city, we found the handling less precise at low speeds, giving it sometimes a strange feeling when trying to parallel park. This can be fixed by using the self-parking feature that worked similarly well as what we would find in a premium vehicle. Our R-line test vehicle also came with a 360-degree camera to help with visibility around the car. What could infuse some oomph to the Arteon mainly at low speed would be a mild-hybrid system to give it better acceleration from a standstill and also reduce its fuel economy in the city.
Why would we buy the 2019 VW Arteon or what we liked about it: passengers seating space and amenities, AWD system, exterior look, cargo space.
Why we wouldn't buy the 2019 VW Arteon or what we didn't like about it: No hybrid system at this time for city use, 8-speed transmission programming at low speeds, a more powerful engine wouldn't hurt.
Volkswagen has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with VW Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.
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