Review: 2023 VW Arteon IQ.Drive - Now on par with rivals, but at what cost?
Arvind · Sep 10, 2023 10:00 AM
In fashion, there is a commonly used quote that reads “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” meaning something that stands the test of time, is usually simple, purposeful and without unnecessary frippery.
The Volkswagen Arteon befits the expression. Underneath its beautiful skin - arguably the most beautiful sedan ever made by Volkswagen - it is an uncomplicated, powerful and focused product; a car that objectively outperforms all its competitors, for less.
However, a lack of ADAS features meant its spec sheet fell short of rivals in the past. And in 2023, can any premium vehicle really call itself premium, without flaunting a full range of driver assistance features?
Thus, the 2023 Arteon now receives VW’s IQ.Drive ADAS suite, which puts it on par with its rivals, but the added safety features come at a sizeable premium, which has nudged the 2023 Arteon past the RM 300k mark. Thus, does the 2023 Arteon intrinsically offer more value, or has it become more complex and expensive than it really needs to be?
Introduced earlier this year, the 2023 Arteon received the aforementioned IQ.Drive ADAS suite which comprises:
Front Assist – Front collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Adaptive Cruise Control – With Stop & Go function
Side Assist – Blindspot information with steering intervention
Rear Cross Traffic Assist – 180-degree view, up to speeds of 12 km/h
Lane Assist – Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), above speeds of 70 km/h
Alongside, the 2023 Arteon also receives a Qi wireless smartphone charger.
Under the hood and shell, performance figures remain unchanged. That sees the EA888 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder deliver the same 280 PS and 350 Nm of torque. It’s paired with a 7-speed wet clutch DSG transmission.
Power is sent to all four wheels of VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The front-wheel biased system features an Electronic Different Lock (XDS) upfront to reduce understeer; power is sent to the rear wheels for better traction when required.
2023 VW Arteon IQ.Drive specs
RM 301,012 (OTR with VAP)
2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl
280 PS @ 5,100-6,500 RPM
350 Nm @ 1,700-5,600 RPM
5.8 seconds (as tested)
8.9 litres/100km (as tested)
7-airbags, ABS, BA, ESC, FCW, BSM, LKA, RCTA, ACC
Of course, the new updates have introduced an approximately RM 24k premium which takes the 2023 Arteon pricetag to RM 301k, quite a bit more than the 2021 Arteon facelift’s introductory price of RM 248k, which subsequently rose to RM 277k after some price adjustments in 2022.
As you might surmise, that nudges the 2023 Arteon much closer to the (RM 320k) BMW 330i M Sport and (RM 334k) Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line. However, with 280 PS, AWD, and IQ.Drive, the 2023 Arteon is more than a matchup.
Additionally, note you can opt out of the VW Assurance Package and save RM 10k on the 2023 Arteon.
For brevity, this review will focus on the latest IQ.Drive additions and if they add intrinsic value to the Arteon’s overall value proposition. However, if you want a comprehensive review of how the 2023 Arteon looks, feels and drives – you can read the piece below.
But first, let me echo the initial findings of my colleague. In a word, the 2023 Arteon is sublime.
Slung low and wide, the 2023 Arteon is a bonafide cruise missile on any given road. With 280 PS on tap, the 2023 Arteon makes light work of getting up to three-figure speeds, intuitively rifling up and down its 7-speed DSG transmission.
This is matched by surefooted traction and expertly tuned adaptive suspension that handles bumps and road irregularities with aplomb. Objectively, the 2023 Arteon is on par in nearly every criterion when compared to the BMW and Merc.
Whilst the BMW 330i delivers that final quantum on driving exhilaration, and the C300 exudes the best style and finish, the 2023 Arteon offers the most power, the best acceleration, and the largest cabin and bootspace. Not forgetting, it’s the only one with gorgeous frameless windows.
So does IQ.Drive add overall value?
That said, I’m not completely sold on the IQ.Drive ADAS Suite. Note that it crucially adds Adaptive Cruise Control, AEB, and RCTA. Blindspot information and the Lane Assist functions were already present in the previous model.
Starting with the positives the ACC works great. Speed adjustments when increasing/reducing cruising speed are natural and controlled. There is no sudden surge of acceleration and the system works very well to detect and adjust cruising speeds if a vehicle merges up ahead.
Additionally, IQ.Drive works up to a complete stop, and gets going again, without the need for any driver input once traffic starts moving; this is done very intuitively.
The same goes for the FCW and AEB – which offer clear and superbly timed warnings when you need them. On one occasion, it detected a slowing car up ahead (though still at a distance) so precisely that it gave me at least 2 seconds to slow down and merge into another lane safely.
The Blindspot information system works like a charm as well. However, on the downsides, there are two.
The first is the Lane Keeping Assist which does not include Volkswagen’s Adaptive Lane Guidance, the advanced feature that keeps the car centred within the lane. Thus, the LKA only intervenes to correct steering when the vehicle is about to cross the white lines of the lane.
Now it’s not the end of the world, but with substantially cheaper cars offering the technology, it is a notable exclusion in a car costing over RM 300k. Also note, having ACC turned on whilst still having to mind every movement of the front tyres sort of defeats the purpose.
Also note, that the system only becomes available above 70 km/h and requires pretty clear white lines to work properly. Failing which the feature shuts off, with little notification besides a small symbol (that goes from green to yellow) at the bottom of the instrument cluster.
Finally, there is the activation of the system. With no less than 17 buttons (yes… 17) placed on the small centre spokes of the steering wheel, it can get very finicky activating the ACC. In contrast, Honda Sensing which features on models costing half the 2023 Arteon's pricetag, works with a single button to turn the ACC on and off.
It is not a single-button operation like you get in the BMW and Mercedes, and it’s not easy to feel your way through while on the move at highway speeds. Personally, it took me three days for me to get to grips with the controls, which was a tad overwhelming.
In truth, I would have wished for decluttered steering wheel controls and an easier user interface. Here again, Volkswagen can take a page out of the Honda Sensing playbook.
Make no mistake, despite the relative shortcomings of the IQ.Drive ADAS, the 2023 Arteon is an utterly lovable car to drive and live with. And given it is the end of the line for the Arteon, after 2024, it is also an amazing swansong to Volkswagen’s sports sedan genre.
This begs the question, when it had so many great things going for it, does fitting a poorly sorted IQ.Drive, which attracts just as much criticisms as before, when the car didn't have the feature a step forward? At least the previous Arteon enjoyed a substantial price advantage over its rivals. Now, it's more expensive, and you are still struggling to put the additional features to good use.
Of course, it also makes sense to offer the same if not more than what your competitors do, but does it really matter to prospective buyers? Personally, that just isn’t the reason I would buy a 2023 Arteon.
I’d buy one because it feels special, it puts a smile on your face every time it comes to life, and leaves you with a cheeky grin when you walk away from it – and that’s a good enough reason as any, wouldn’t you think? Sometimes, simplicity can be the ultimate sophistication.
Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.