First Drive: Volkswagen’s Arteon R Shooting Brake could be the ideal cross-country performance car
The Arteon is one of the latest cars to get the ‘R’ treatment. Jack Evans finds out what it’s like to drive.
What is it?
Volkswagen’s got quite a range of performance ‘R’ models these days. You’ve got the Golf R, of course, as well as the T-Roc R and the larger Tiguan R. There was also the Touareg R right at the top of the SUV line-up, though it looks like that car’s days are numbered.
But you’ve also got the car we’re looking at today – the Arteon R. This isn’t an SUV, but rather a go-faster version of Volkswagen’s sleek-looking estate and fastback. We’re looking at the former, which Volkswagen calls a ‘Shooting Brake’. Let’s check it out.
The head-turning looks of the Arteon R are one thing you notice right off the bat, but we’ll dive into those a little later on. This new model brings a distinctly performance-orientated flavour to the regular Arteon, which has already impressed thanks to its excellent refinement and high-speed comfort.
So what the Arteon R aims to do is blend those existing characteristics with a whole lot more power and capability. It’s something that many other brands have tried to do in performance versions of regular cars, but we’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Arteon delivers.
What’s under the bonnet?
As with the other cars in the R range, the Arteon uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine which sends all of its power to all four wheels. In total, you get 316bhp and 420Nm of torque which, thanks to that all-wheel-drive system, can easily be transferred to the road to enable a 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. For context, that’s only slightly slower than the 4.5 seconds that the standard Golf R will take to do the same speed.
Efficiency-wise, Volkswagen claims you should see just over 30mpg. However, during longer motorway runs, we saw well over this figure and actually neared 40mpg.
What’s it like to drive?
That blend of performance and comfort is a mightily tricky one to get right, but it feels like the Arteon R has struck a really nice compromise. Yes, at slower speeds its stiffened suspension does tend to jostle the car somewhat, but thanks to standard-fit Dynamic Chassis Control, you can soften off the dampers and make the car a lot more comfortable than you might expect.
At a cruise, it’s impressively quiet and refined. In the background, you have that performance on offer, too, which can be deployed in all conditions because of the all-wheel-drive system. You have to switch the car into ‘R’ mode to get the engine into its most vocal setting, mind you, as it’s otherwise quite muted and understated.
How does it look?
We’re going to take a stab here and say that the Arteon – in Shooting Brake guise – is one of the best-looking road cars on sale today. These looks are largely unchanged in the transformation into an ‘R’ version, too, which we think is a great move – the Arteon’s regular looks are so good that they didn’t need much fettling in the first place.
Having said that, there are some notable tweaks which are applied to other ‘R’ models. You’ve got the quad exhaust pipes at the back, for instance, as well as a smattering of ‘R’ logos. We’re just not sure about the ‘R’ badge at the rear underneath the Volkswagen logo – it looks a little obvious and contrasts the Arteon’s otherwise stealthy appearance.
What’s it like inside?
There’s a theme of comfort flowing through the Arteon R’s cabin. The front seats are particularly good and provide loads of support while still managing to look relatively sporty thanks to blue accents and ‘R’ badges on the headrests. They’re electrically adjustable and heated, too.
It’s in the area of boot space where the Arteon R Shooting Brake does really well. You’ve got 590 litres of space to play with, increased of course by folding down the rear seats. There’s a nice low-load lip, too, so putting heavier or bulkier items in there isn’t too tricky.
What’s the spec like?
Because it sits right at the top of the Arteon range, the ‘R’ gets all of the bells and whistles you could want. Our test car, with options such as upgraded LED headlights (£1,360) and a Harman Kardon sound system (£1,325) did come in at just over £63,000, mind you, which we’ll admit is a fair heft of money. But with prices starting from £56,085, you do get a whole lot of standard equipment from the off.
Highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels with eye-catching blue brake callipers sat behind them, while the Dynamic Chassis Control which so transforms the Arteon’s ability to adapt to different road surfaces and driving requirements come fitted from the off, too. It’s something we’ve seen available as an option on many Volkswagen cars, so it’s good to have it as standard here.
The Arteon R Shooting Brake feels like the type of performance car you’d be happy to grab the keys to on a daily basis. It’s got that go-faster approach that other ‘R’ models bring, but where it delivers is in its refinement and cross-country abilities.
Passenger comfort levels are great, too, and whereas the Golf R has a more aggressive take on things, the Arteon R’s more fluid, approachable direction is a very welcome one – particularly if you’re driving big distances.