The blue-blooded estate by VW
Updated: Aug 11, 2022
Around all the hype of the astonishing Golf 8 R, there is another car in VW's lineup that uses the same basic powertrain which has been overshadowed in recent times; the new VW Arteon R. The powertrain we're talking about; the 2.0l TSI used in the Golf R, Tiguan R, and now the Arteon R.
We had the chance to drive the Arteon R in shooting brake trim back in December of 2021. We'll give you some basic stats. 320 horsepower, 420nm of torque, 4MOTION AWD, dynamic chassis control, and a sort-of drift mode. Considering Switzerland was experiencing a huge amount of snowfall at the time, we knew our time with the Arteon R was going to be... ...sideways.
But first, let's talk about one of the biggest talking points of the Arteon in general, the stunning looks. Simply said, we think the Arteon is the best-looking car in VW's current lineup, especially as a shooting brake. It's just so different from what VW normally builds. Both the Golf and Polo share the simple, dynamic, and likable design language that we know. But the Arteon wears a dress, unlike anything else VW has to offer. The Arteon impresses from every angle, we can't pick our favorite side. There aren't words to describe how the Arteon shooting brake differs aesthetically from other estates in its class. Maybe it's the stunning 20-inch Estoril wheels with their unique diamond-cut design or the signature VW R lapiz-blue metallic paint. What's clear is that the Arteon R is in a class of its own. If we had to choose between the Arteon R and the upcoming Golf R Variant, our choice would be the Arteon. A controversial thought, but we think the Arteon is the Golf for grown-ups because it holds that much more class and style. And with the Arteon being available with the atom bomb that is that 2.0l turbocharged four-cylinder TSI, the Arteon can compete dynamically with the Golf R as well. Of course, all that style comes for a price, that's why the Arteon R costs a whole 15'000 CHF more than the Golf R.
All-in-all, the Arteon looks mature and that motive continues on the inside. It might be old-fashioned, but the Arteon R gets a traditional gear-lever, intuitive infotainment, and a lot of standard kit. Neither of those things can be found on a new Golf, but then the Arteon is aimed at a different category of customers. While the interior of the Arteon is nicely laid out, it's nothing special. There are some R badges scattered around and a smart-looking digital gauge cluster. But otherwise, the interior lacks a little bit of emotion. A missed opportunity in our minds, because this would have differentiated the Arteon in all aspects from other VW models. Hence the interior stays mature, in the sense that it has no real unique gadgets or quirks. A good thing? Maybe, to keep things simple and ordered.
Now, let's get to the fun stuff. Like the new Golf R, the Arteon R gets DCC (or dynamic chassis control). This allows you to alternate the stiffness of the suspension through 10 different settings (ranging from Comfort to Sport+). What the Arteon R also borrows is the infamous drift mode, which is just a fancy name for torque vectoring on the rear axle. This system gets into its own in the snow. 50% of the power can be sent to the rear wheels and 100% of that power can be sent to either rear wheel. Pretty complicated stuff, but it works. And unlike the new Golf R, the traction control can be fully switched off. All these things make the Arteon R quite the sideways machine on snow. We like that the traction control can be altered in three settings. Fully on, Sport, and fully off. This allows you to play around with your preferred setting until you get the hang of it. When you're not going sideways on snow, the Arteon R handles like a proper sportscar on the tarmac. One thing that helps do this is the DCC and 4Motion AWD systems which are both adaptive. On the road, you want the Arteon R to have the most optimal traction at all times. The drift mode is more of a gimmick to show what can be done with contemporary AWD systems, but ideally, you want the car to have as much traction as possible. If you want to go sideways, get a BMW M or AMG. The Arteon R handles flat and gives you the confidence you need when you have 420nm at 2100 RPMs. That 2.0 TSI might be the powertrain of the decade, because of its huge potential and instant throttle response. There is just torque everywhere.
We just hoped everyone would like the Arteon R as much as we do because you don't see them very often. Maybe it's the outlandish design, the price, or something else? One thing that we know of is that we fell in love with the Arteon R during our weekend of testing it.