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Driven: Volkswagen Arteon takes aim at Merc, BMW

Bells and whistles: Volkswagen’s new Arteon features brand-first tech such as active lane changing in its fully loaded spec sheet.

Just one highly specified variant for new VW flagship to target luxury rivals

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Volkswagen logo1 Nov 2017

By TIM ROBSON

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia has launched its most highly specced car ever, positioning the four-door Arteon saloon against rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

“This is how we bring the fight to the luxury car-makers without becoming one ourselves,” said Volkswagen Australia product manager Glenn Reid. “It defines our ethos of ‘premium for the people’.”

The Arteon will be offered in only one specification with a 206kW 2.0-litre engine and all-wheel-drive system from the brand’s Golf R hatch. It will be priced at $65,490 before on-road costs.

“This is our flagship car, a statement car,” Volkswagen Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer told GoAuto. “It’s got the technology to go toe-to-toe with those big names. I’m really confident that customers are going to respond to it.”

Mr Shafer said early interactions with customers have seen them estimate the price of the Arteon to be “not thousands, but tens of thousands of dollars more expensive”.

“We wanted to put as much as we could into the car and have it at a good price point,” he said. “We see this as a flagship, not just in size and specs, but in its design as well.

“We can expect to see that new front fascia across other Volkswagen models going forward, as well as pioneering some new technology.”

He also indicated that forward orders from dealers had been strong, but he declined to discuss specific numbers. He did suggest, however, that the company had “moderate” expectations for the car.

“For us, it’s what it represents as a statement than it is doing big numbers,” he said. “That section of the market is still reasonably healthy, but we understand it’s not a growth area. We have reasonable expectations, and I think it’ll deliver on those expectations.”

Mr Shafer confirmed that the Australian arm of VW decided to take only the R-Line all-wheel-drive version, knocking back front-wheel-drive and more luxury-orientated versions.

“Australians love performance and aggressive looks, and that’s what we’ve gone for,” he said.

At 4862mm long, the Arteon is similar in length to cars such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series coupe, but Mr Reid said VW did not see these cars as direct competitors.

“We see the Arteon customers looking at cars like the BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLA, despite their smaller size,” he said. “But we see the most conquesting potential from the similarly priced and more volume-selling models like the 3 Series and the C-Class.”

The Arteon also competes in the same price bracket as the smaller Alfa Romeo Giulia Super, Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Sportback and Kia Stinger V6 GT.

The Arteon is a four-door coupe with a liftback tailgate, similar to the Skoda Superb. It is offered with the 206kW EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, electronic front limited slip diff and all-wheel-drive system from the brand’s Golf R hatch and wagon, as well as its Passat 206TSI.

It makes 206kW and 350Nm, and will dash to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds, while returning a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 7.5 litres per 100km.

Built upon the MQB platform, it is 95mm longer than the VW Passat with a 50mm longer wheelbase, which translates to 45mm extra leg room.

Pure white is the only no-cost colour, with six other colours including Atlantic Blue, Chili Red and Tumeric Yellow available as a $900 option.

It has a 563-litre boot capacity that grows to 1557 litres with the seats down, while a full-size spare wheel (including the 20-inch options) nestles beneath the boot floor.

The seats are all leather, with 12-way powered and heated fronts with massage and memory function, and heated outside rears.

Its extensive spec list includes adaptive LED headlights that partially mask the Arteon’s high beam to prevent dazzling other drivers.

The new lighting array – called all-weather lighting – also does away with the need for foglights by incorporating the cornering lamps into the lighting array when high beam is used. The LED taillights also offer dynamic indicators as standard.

Advanced driver aids include an auto lane change function that works under emergency conditions to move the car out of traffic and brake to a stop. Lane assist with lane guidance, adaptive cruise control, high and low speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works between 5km/h to 250km/h are also included.

The Arteon also offers a low-speed braking function designed to be used in parking. Below 10km/h, it offers manoeuvre braking – if it detects a collision with a static object like a pillar, it will stop the car.

Side assistance can detect cars up to 50m behind the Arteon, while rear traffic and cross traffic alert, park assist and a multi-collision braking system are also included.

A traffic jam assist system uses the adaptive cruise control and lane guidance systems to negotiate traffic, allowing a three-second stopping period before it moves off again by itself. This can be increased to 15 seconds via a wheel mounted steering wheel button.

It also detects potential crashes from behind, flashing the hazard lights to warn the other car, before tightening seat belts and closing windows. A pedestrian safety system also works to avoid crashes with errant humans, combining with an active bonnet.

A three-mode drive select system that changes the throttle, damper and gearbox maps includes comfort, normal and sport, and features a function that allows a sliding scale of 43 points between ‘more comfortable’ comfort and .more sporty’ sport to be chosen in the Individual setting.

A 360-degree camera system and multi-mode heads-up display combines with the standard Active Info Display dashboard.

The interior ambient lighting can be customised with white, blue or yellow LEDs, while a 9.2-inch multimedia system features gesture control and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Options are minimal, but include a sunroof at $2500, metallic paint at $900 and a $2500 Sound and Styler Package with 20-inch graphite coloured wheels and a 10-speaker premium audio system.

A VW spokesperson said a sales target of 1000 units a year was feasible.

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