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Volkswagen Arteon 2.0 TDI 240 4MOTION Elegance 2017 review

One of the ways the Arteon will justify that price, where the old CC certainly didn’t, is the old-fashioned way: with size. This is a relatively long and wide car; it looks big enough to be approaching ?40,000-worth, to put it simply. On the inside it offers a very roomy and accessible boot and more than enough legroom for a couple of larger adults to sit in the back quite comfortably (albeit, predictably, not as much headroom as a more conventional saloon might).

Up front the seats of our ‘Elegance’-spec test car were snug and adjustable, and the seating position lower and more enveloping than in a Passat. The Arteon’s door consoles rise much higher at your shoulder than its sister car’s, its roofline staying lower and its glasshouse slimmer, leaving quite a large B-pillar to peer around when you’re overtaking and pulling out of oblique junctions.

Onboard technology is one of the key prongs of the car’s appeal, VW’s thinking being that younger buyers probably care more about sophisticated safety and infotainment technology than perfect 50:50 weight distribution or some modern pastiche of century-old European luxury. It certainly seems a sensible philosophy – but it’s debatable if it’s a real selling point for this car. The Arteon gets the same optional glass-fronted 9.2in ‘Discover Pro’ infotainment system as has just been installed in the smaller Golf; and just as it did in the Golf, it seems powerful and feature-rich but much-the-worse on usability for the loss of VW’s old volume and map zoom knobs and shortcut buttons.

The car also has the Golf’s ‘Active Info Display’ digital instruments, which we like – but ultimately not quite as much as we like one or two other digital instrumentation setups that this kind of cash might buy. There can be few complaints or reservations about the slickness of the Arteon’s driving experience.

With its mechanical refinement and the consistent obliging lightness of its controls, the car feels every inch the modern Volkswagen. That 2.0-litre diesel engine remains remote and quiet even at moderately high revs, but its considerable torque, its responsiveness and the intelligent shift behaviour of the car’s DSG gearbox all mean you very seldom need to venture much beyond 3500rpm if you don’t want to.

The car’s ride is laudably quiet on a level surface, too, even on those optional 20in wheels and low-profile tyres. Rather than simply retune the same suspension hardware you’ll find on a Passat, VW has gone shopping for new adaptive dampers and bushings for this car in the knowledge that those 20in rims would be tricky to integrate into the driving experience without also accepting a harsher edge to the ride than Wolfsburg might otherwise like. The upshot is that the Arteon offers greater dynamic configurability than any other Volkswagen, it’s damping being tunable on a sliding scale from a more compliant setting to a more resolute one when you choose ‘individual’ mode on the modal controller, instead of being restricted to discrete ‘comfort’, ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ presets.

But, while the greater control over the car’s ride is welcome, what it amounts to is debatable. Like most of its rangemates, the Arteon is at its most effective when cocooning you from the world outside with its generally supple ride and its isolated steering. Damper upgrade or not, there’s an unmistakable thump to the car’s ride when those 20in rims hit sharper lumps and bumps – though it’s tolerable.

But move towards a firmer suspension preset in search of the driver engagement the car’s positioning promises and you’ll likely be left disappointed.

The car’s standard-fit ‘progressive’ variable-rate power steering picks up marginally more weight but still feels starved of feel here, and its ride becomes more choppy and little more intimately or meaningfully connected to the surface of the road.

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