Road test: 2021 Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake

Tyler Heatley

17 Dec 2020

1/10
A handsome new variant of the Volkswagen Arteon aims to tempt buyers away from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Does it succeed?

I have to admit, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Volkswagen Arteon. It launched as a new flagship for the German marque, packed full of technology and interesting design. However, this automotive showcase came at a price – one that put it in direct competition with BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. When it came to the battle of business car parks, many defaulted to the more premium badges.


Along with a refresh of the Arteon range comes a brand-new variant. The Arteon Shooting Brake delivers a body style not offered by any of the car’s perceived rivals. Has Volkswagen finally delivered the required style to go along with its established sustenance?



Exterior




It’s a handsome machine, don’t you think? The fastback variant of the Arteon is a good looking car with its sharp lines and intriguing grille that integrates those intricate headlights, but this being a Shooting Brake, a new dimension is added. It retains all of the unique design elements of the freshly facelifted car, but its roofline is drawn back further, and some sharply hips now define the rear quarters. The gently tapering shape incorporates a polite boot spoiler and a cascading rear end that is narrated by a set of distinctive lighting signatures.


Technically speaking, you could argue that this isn’t a Shooting Brake as the breed originated with three doors and not five, but this stylish new shape elevates the Arteon to a status that might see more adventurous Audi and BMW buyers giving it serious consideration. Our test car in R-Line trim features a slightly sportier profile, but also a smart set of 20-inch alloy wheels. Optional Pyrite Silver Metallic also adds a mesmerising liquid metal finish to this example.



Interior




This car’s critics will point out how the interior of the Arteon Shooting Brake sports many a similarly with a Volkswagen Passat, and those does ring true. Dashboard elements and switchgear are shared between the two models, but material choices and design separate them. In the Shooting Brake you’ll find textured finishes and metallic inserts that elevate this space to something more premium. A bank of horizontal vents span the width of the car, while a substantial centre console divides passenger and driver. I’m a big fan of the customisable mood lighting that allows you to bathe the cabin in up to 30 different shades.


R-Line cars get more bolstered seats for a sporty feel, but they aren’t too overbearing and remain a comfortable post for many hours of driving. This specific Atreon also had the Titan Black Nappa leather option that proved sumptuous.





There’s no shortage of space for rear passengers thanks to legroom that could rival a limousine. Headroom is also very good, even with this R-Line’s panoramic roof. There is a prominent transmission hump for the middle occupant to contend with, but you could happily host four adults for hundreds of motorway miles without complaint.


Boot space is superior to the likes of the BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback at 565-litres. That said, the nature of the Shooting Brake shape means that it’s actually hardly bigger than the fastback and smaller than the more workaday Passat. There’s two ways to look at this situation, with the Shooting Brake lacking the practicality of a regular estate, or that the sleek new profile isn’t to the detriment of the Arteon lineup. I’m leaning toward the latter, especially as rivals can’t match the Shooting Brake in either scenario.




Technology and equipment




The Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake is packed full of tech right from the get go. All R-Line cars come with three-zone climate control, a widescreen digital instrument cluster, hands free boot opening, parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, automatic lights, mood lighting, a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


The touchscreen is a good size and pretty responsive to inputs. It might not be Volkswagen’s latest system found in the Golf, but it’s easy to use and plays nice with smartphones. While on the subject of touch, there are new haptic feedback controls for the steering wheel and air conditioning. These are effectively flat surfaces that imitate the feeling of a button push, and while they function well, they aren’t as intuitive to use without looking as a physical button.


Something that R-Line cars don’t get is a reversing camera, which is rather stingy considering this models’s starting price. It’s a big car with a small rear windscreen, but VW still want an extra £380 for a camera.





Travel Assist is a clever system that serves an advanced cruise control. With the driver’s hands remaining on the wheel, it can maintain a distance to the car ahead, react to speed limit changes, and slow for approaching roundabouts.


Generally speaking the Arteon Shooting Brake is well equipped as standard, and can actually represent better value than posh competitors in some instances.



On the road




Our Shooting Brake was equipped with one of two 2.0-litre petrol options, this one being the more potent 187bhp choice. It sends power to the front wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission, with a manual only being available on the lower powered petrol or diesel cars. It’s a good engine that’s something of a smooth operator.


The engine is hushed unless under hard acceleration, but even then proves to be well mannered. Aside from a touch of initial turbo lag, this power unit is responsive and capable of confident overtaking thanks to 320Nm of torque. It’s brisk enough with a 0-62mph dash of 7.8 seconds, while terminal velocity is pegged at 145mph.





It isn’t the keenest steer on the road – for more excitement you’ll have to wait for the up and coming 316bhp Arteon R – but it is certainly competent. The steering is precise and predictable, but its lack of feel is symptomatic of modern motoring. Body control is good for this type of car, and the overall feeling of grippy security afforded by the chassis is certainly welcome during winter driving.


I was at first hesitant of these 19-inch alloy wheels, fearing they would result in a teeth-chattering ride. Sure, at lower speeds they do have a tendency to send a thud through the cabin, but the ride is actually rather good once up to pace. The car feels like it flows with the road, and even without the optional adaptive dampers, proves to be a comfortable means of covering distance.


A strong diesel engine might be the natural choice for this sort of car, especially if it’s going to be trawling the motorways, but the combination of this TSI petrol and a slick automatic gearbox makes for a good substitute should you not want to visit the black pump.



Verdict




The Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake doesn’t come cheap, starting at £34,765, and our car as tested was closer to £42k. However, Volkswagen are playing a clever game here thanks to this model offering a body style that’s not only unique, but also rare in today’s world. I’m sure there are customers out there who are bored of predictable executive design and want something new – that’s this car’s USP.


You have to really love the styling to be totally sold on the Shooting Brake, especially as it doesn’t actually offer much more practicality over the regular car. The Arteon is a lovely machine to clock the miles in, but only time will tell if its new suit is enough to tempt customers out of the typical offerings.



Facts and figures



Model tested: Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line 2.0 TSI 190

Price: £39,050

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Power / Torque: 187bhp / 320Nm

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Top speed: 145mph

Seating: 5

Boot space: 565-litres

MPG: 35.6mpg

CO2: 179g/km

Tyler Heatley

17 Dec 2020

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