The new VW Arteon Shooting Brake
Stylish upgrade on Volkswagen Passat but is there demand for a €50k estate?
These are the best, and the worst, of times as far as this week’s review car, the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake, is concerned. The best of times? There is reportedly a cross-section of people looking for a car that is ‘different’ without being flagrantly outrageous. People, we are told, are looking for nice low-key ‘personality’ in their new models.
The worst of times? In reality, relatively few are chasing down an estate-type model for €50,000 when they can have their choice of all sorts of mid-size SUVs and crossovers, or a compact Beemer, Merc or Audi for a handful more euro on their PCP repayments.
The Volkswagen Arteon was always a bit of a curious fit; the Fastback (five-door) version less so than the subsequent Shooting Brake (estate).
It’s based on the popular Passat and is pitched ‘half a class’ above it. In other words, it’s a posher motor to attract those who don’t want a snob brand but would like something that lifts them out of mainstream motordom.
It’s a tough concept, I think, (not least because it is also pricier) but there has been evidence that a certain number of people bought into the idea with the first generation of Arteons.
Now as part of a heavy revision of the range comes the new Shooting Brake model which, among other things, provides a splendid new digital cockpit.
Despite its ground-hugging looks and lower roofline, it yields more rear-seat room and boot space because it is longer, lower and wider. I didn’t have much trouble getting in or out of the back despite initial misgivings that I’d have to crouch and risk the lower lumbars.
There is no doubt my car cooed ‘executive’ from front bumper to rear but, despite excellent seats, the new easy-to-use digital cockpit interface and tasty exterior design, the meagre nature of the rear window aperture and use of dark materials dulled the effect in the cabin of my test car.
Would it be much better with lighter seat and dashboard colours? Yes, I think it would.
But there still remains that miserly rear window which would be rendered even more ineffective if I had tallish rear-seat passengers on board. Luckily, I didn’t.
From within I was also disappointed with the ‘thud’ that came into the cabin from wheel travel over gouges on the road. It’s not something I remember with the Passat. It may have had to do with the specific wheels/tyres.
I am increasingly noticing incidences of this with larger wheels. It’s a pity in the Arteon’s case; to be fair, it really only reared its head in suburban driving where ruts and bumps abound. It was not an issue on the open road. But it is the sort of thing to annoy. So if you’re thinking of buying this, or any car for that matter, check out how your wheels and tyres work for you by test driving over a few hump-and-hollow road surfaces.
My low initial seating position really emphasised how deep and low into the car you can sit. So many people love that. They feel ‘part’ of the car. Honestly.
Me? I like to sit high and not have to peer over the dash to see where I was going. A good few notches up the manual height adjustment brought real clarity of vision and a great driving position.
There were plenty of real positives. For starters, it was a comfortable rather than dynamic drive on the open road. I savoured, yes savoured, the purr of the excellent 2-litre (150bhp) on a couple of long journeys.
I get a bit nostalgic sometimes when cruising in a diesel of this calibre. I think of the day, not as far away as we think perhaps, when there won’t be a new — stress new — diesel to be bought.
There is something truly comfortable about setting the cruise control and letting a top engine like this do its job. Ironic isn’t it that these are the best of times as far as diesel engineering is concerned but the dawn of the worst of times for it?
Would I buy the Arteon Shooting Brake? I’m not sure. I ended up liking it quite a bit — rear window and dark interior aside. It’s technically excellent. It looks a bit overstretched for me though the exterior dimensions yield lots of room for passengers and luggage.
In the broader scheme of things, there has never been a really good time for estates. We don’t buy them. So maybe the more conventional Fastback is a better option against the myriad SUVs whose time has truly come.
Facts & Figures: VW Arteon Shooting Brake:
2-litre diesel, 150hp automatic (DSG), 135g/km, €200 road tax. ‘R-line’ entry price €52,200, delivery charge €1,000. With extras: €54,043 on the road.
Standard spec includes 18in alloys, range of safety elements, Adaptive Cruise Control, rear-view camera, voice control, ‘Travel assist’ including Lane Assist, Lane Change Assist, seat covers in artvelours/Vienna cloth/leather.