In order to drum up as much publicity as possible, automakers tend to launch new facelifts to tons of fanfare, even though most of the time there are barely any changes to the existing model.
But, this wasn't what Volkswagen did. They quietly launched this - the new face-lifted Arteon. Most people won’t realise this is new, even if it's sitting pretty right in front of you in the showroom.
Ironically, this new facelift actually makes for quite a compelling upgrade over its predecessor, and I feel the Arteon should receive more love in that regard.
Yes, you may be playing "spot-the-difference" trying to figure out the new changes, as some of the updates are barely noticeable. But, add a tech refresh to the interior, a new engine and drivetrain, and this car breathes new life.
Come, let me show you.
Smooth like butter
Since its inception, the Volkswagen Arteon has always been a good-looking car, and this new facelift refines the already well-polished design. Much like an already handsome guy, whose newly toned muscles are a subtle but noticeable improvement.
The R-line styling pack as depicted here decks the car out with a new front bumper, gloss black front air intakes with a C-shaped Front LED headlight bar, and LED taillights with dynamic signal indicators.
R-line badging on the sides and 20-inch R-line specific rims complete the look, in case anyone doubts you own the more expensive trim version.
Overall, there’s not much change, but honestly, why change what already looks good? Just look at another German manufacturer, and you’ll understand that being bolder in your design language doesn’t always equate to good looks.
Simple, functional charm
Take one glance at the interior and it looks pretty premium, with black carbon Nappa leather, a Black roof liner and frameless doors. Front passengers also benefit from 14-way ErgoComfort sport seats, which are pretty comfortable.
However, spend more time in the cabin and the interior does start to feel "cheap". Your touch-points do not feel posh, and the haptic HVAC and steering wheel button controls do not feel intuitive to use at all. Volkswagen has already made plans to revert back to traditional buttons and dials, but the Arteon just has to live with it.
You get a decent amount of room in the back for passengers, and the coupe-ish roofline does not hinder headroom even for adults. But, because of its fastback form factor, the rear doors are pretty narrow, potentially making ingress and egress tougher for some.
A generous 563-litre boot provides sufficient cargo space, and its hatchback tailgate allows for easy access to store bulkier items.
Entertainment is controlled by a new 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and revamped multi-functional steering wheel. The native UI is not the best to use, and having to scroll to access different settings is not intuitive to use at all, especially when driving.
Thankfully, you get mapped buttons along the sides to jump menus quickly, and this helped tons. But, once I got Android Auto hooked up, entertainment became simple. The touchscreen integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto nicely, in fact, it's one of the rare occurrences that Android Auto actually scales properly.
Better still, everything is completely wireless, so you don't have to worry about forgetting your cable.
The thing I love about the Volkswagen Arteon is just how simple everything is. Jump in, hit the ignition, pop your phone into the wireless charger and go about your day. The car connects up everything automatically, and it is an absolute treat.
No cables, no mess, no fuss. Which makes you enjoy the driving experience even more.
Holding its ground against its rivals
New Volkswagen Arteon, new engine. Well, not exactly new, but the updated, tried and true EA888 2-litre 4-pot banger pumps out 190bhp and 320Nm of torque. Even though it is smaller than its predecessor, it is still fairly energetic and can deliver healthy doses of power. Couple that to a 7-speed DSG gearbox, and you have a fan-favourite formula that never goes out of style.
However, arguably the biggest change from its predecessor is the exclusion of 4MOTION; what Volkswagen likes to call all-wheel-drive (AWD). Instead, you would have to make do with a front-wheel-drive (FWD) setup.
Does it detrimentally affect performance? Absolutely not. The Arteon can still hold its own while driving hard. You will feel a little under-steersy in the corners, and the power steering can sometimes feel a little disjointed, numbing you from feeling the road well, but nothing that screams danger.
Yes, the AWD variant of yesteryear could rocket out of corners, but this new facelift isn’t crippled by its FWD underpinnings at all.
To spruce the car up even further, Volkswagen has fitted tight steering from lock to lock, and a selection of drive modes with full Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) settings. Sport stiffens up the steering and DCC suspension, hunkering down the whole car in anticipation for more enthusiastic driving. Even in its rougher setting, the car still feels relatively comfortable over undulating terrain.
Pop the car into Eco or Normal instead, and the Arteon transforms into a stylish city cruiser. Plus, the added benefit of a FWD setup is better fuel economy, and during my test the car returned an average of 12.5km/L. Mind you, that is with some amount of enthusiastic pedal pressing, so props to the car.
Spring for the R-Line, and the inclusion of 360 cameras and sensors make parking a breeze. This alone makes the trim upgrade worth it, as it can help ease the ownership experience for people who might not be as used to larger vehicles, or cars like the Arteon where visibility out of the C-pillars is slightly more challenging due to its fastback-esque design.
Overall, for a luxury sedan the Volkswagen Arteon is quite the challenger stepping into a ring of fierce executive sedan competitors.
Yes, you do not get many posh materials in the cabin. Yes, it may feel “cheap” to some. And if I'm very honest, most people will look past this car purely because of the badge. Some of you might spring for something else instead, albeit still German in nature.
But, look past these things, and for the right price this is a pretty solid option. The Arteon drives great, has boot space to spare for all your cargo needs, enough room in the back for passengers to not complain, and an infotainment system that works like an absolute charm. I cannot stress that last point enough.
What you want to look for in a car to own is longevity. Something that is easy to use from the day you buy it, till the day you sell it. Convenience shines over a lot of other aspects. The Arteon delivers this point to a tee, and it makes the user experience that much more enjoyable.
These are the little things that work, and it’s really the little things that count.