Quick Review: 2020 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line - Worthy rival to the 3 Series/C-Class?

Shaun · Oct 11, 2020 11:18 AM

Quick Review: 2020 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line - Worthy rival to the 3 Series/C-Class? 01

Among the trio launched by Volkswagen Malaysia a couple of months ago was the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line. There is only one trim available – the R-Line, priced at RM 221,065 (OTR without insurance and SST).

To recap, VW Arteon's power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 190 PS and 320 Nm of torque. All that twisting force goes to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (wet type).

Exterior - Sleekest VW yet

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The VW Arteon is the spiritual successor to the once-popular Passat CC with the coupe-like silhouette and frameless doors. And personally, I think the Arteon looks even sleeker than its predecessor.

From the front, there's a massive grille (done right) that is seamlessly integrated to the full-LED headlamps. Being an R-Line variant, VW Arteon gets a more aggressive front bumper design with subtle gloss black trims. Wheels are 19-inch items wrapped in 245/40 profile Pirelli P Zero tyres.

Quick Review: 2020 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line - Worthy rival to the 3 Series/C-Class? 01

The clam shell bonnet disguises the joint lines between the front fender and bonnet, which isn't particularly necessary, but it looks cool. And it's expensive to make, not to mention complex as well.

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Around the back, the taillamps are slim and are full-LED units as well with sequential turn indicators. There's also a subtle gloss black boot lid courtesy of the R-Line treatment. Best of all, VW Arteon has rear hatch that opens up with the window for superior boot practicality.

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VW Arteon Interior - Nearly identical to the Passat

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Open the frameless door and you'll be greeted to an interior that almost mirrors the Passat, with air vent design that appears to run the full width of the dashboard. Thankfully, unlike the Passat facelift, there is still the central analogue clock.

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Unique to VW Arteon are the GTI-like flat-bottomed steering wheel, which I still prefer over the newer steering wheel designs, and Nappa leather seats with carbon fibre-esque accent. 

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Both the 11.7-inch digital instrument display and the 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display are crisp with well-calibrated colours. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available, though wireless connectivity is only for Apple CarPlay. 

Audio is fed through an 11-speaker 700-watt Dynaudio sound system. While it hasn't been tested extensively, first impressions are rather positive as it sounds quite dynamic and it's a significant step up from the standard sound system.

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VW Arteon Driving Experience - Composed and mature

VW Arteon drives similarly to a Passat, which is no bad thing per se. You still get a mature behaviour that rides characteristically firm from a Volkswagen. The difference here is that VW Arteon is just a little more focused.

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A little more is the motif here. VW Arteon turns in a little more enthusiastically with slightly less body roll, and feels a little more composed through the bends with a little more grip. So yeah, where driving dynamics are concerned, it's turned up a little more than the Passat.

However, what isn't turned up is the powertrain. While it isn't slow by any accounts, VW Arteon could do with more power and torque. The chassis can easily handle it.

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The Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) helps with weight transfer and directional changes. It's progressive and lets you feed inputs through the steering wheel and pedals without fear of the car suddenly losing grip.

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One potential deal-breaker would be the lack of any form of Advanced Driver-Assistance System (ADAS). There's no autonomous emergency braking, no rear-cross traffic alert, not even a blind spot monitor that is available in the Passat.

VW Arteon Ride Comfort - Characteristically firm

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As mentioned earlier, the ride is firm. The DCC helps broaden the suspension's breadth of ability, but there's only so much an adaptive damper can do with lowered suspension and low profile tyres.

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Low-speed ride is acceptable in comfort mode, with the occasional thumps through our pockmarked roads. Bumps are not ironed out as imperceptibly as you'd want a premium car to do so, but it isn't jarring.

The Arteon thrives on relatively well-paved surfaces, where it flows along nicely with large undulations. Although when the surface gets tricky, the ride gets busy even in comfort mode.

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Mechanical noises are well-suppressed. But the 19-inch wheels with high-performance tyres do make themselves heard on highways. Subjectively, noise levels are similar to the Passat which is on the noisier side, especially at premium level.

Conclusion

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The Volkswagen Arteon combines the space and practicality of a Passat (perhaps even more practical with the hatch opening boot) and sleek design of a coupe. Plus, driving dynamics have been turned up just a notch.

Even then, at that price point, the BMW 3 Series is still the champ where driving dynamics is concerned. On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class just oozes appeal with its design inside and out, not forgetting the 3-pointed star badge.

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VW Arteon falls somewhere in between the 3 Series and C-Class in the handling department. Despite its firm ride, the Arteon is still a tad comfier than the two.

Also, what the compact executive sedans can't compete with is the amount of space you get in the Volkswagen Arteon and the practicality of a hatch opening tailgate. And you get a sleek coupe profile as opposed a traditional 3-box design.

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Perhaps the biggest gripe of VW Arteon is the lack of ADAS, which is borderline unacceptable in this day and age in which even a Perodua Axia has AEB.

Though if ADAS isn't the be-all and end-all for you when it comes to cars, then the Volkswagen Arteon is a worthy alternative to the compact executive sedans.

Shaun

Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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