As with the CC which it replaced, VW483 series Arteon/CC looks especially striking in black

As with the CC which it replaced, VW483 series Arteon/CC looks especially striking in black

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After launching the CC-replacing Arteon in Europe a year ago with a range of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, Volkswagen has now added its 1.5-litre TSI, extending the all-turbo line-up of this big fastback. 

The Emdem plant which also makes the Passat was naturally the logical place to manufacture this second entry in the D/E segment. The German factory took the lead for Arteon production, the first customer cars leaving the site for LHD European markets in May 2017.

The worldwide roll-out is ongoing, with the Lower Saxony factory due to start making Arteons for North America in the next few months ahead of a Q4 release. The model is selling well in Europe, lifting margins for the Volkswagen brand in what has become an embattled segment.

Even a year ago, the Passat was still in high demand, as were to a lesser extent the Insignia, Mondeo, Talisman, 508 and Optima. Now though, the default choice has become a C-Class, A4 or an SUV. In some countries, the soon to be replaced BMW 3 Series is also doing moderately well. Only Škoda, with the Octavia and Superb, remains relatively unaffected by the flight to the three-pointed star.

According to JATO Dynamics, Škoda sales rose across Europe during the first half of the year to such an extent that the Czech make took tenth place, ousting Toyota. VW of course remains entrenched as the region's number one, some of that now due to the Tiguan/Tiguan Allspace having become segment leader amongst SUVs, overtaking the Qashqai.

A shooting brake to come?

Insiders hint that an estate is on the way for European and selected other markets.

The danger of adding an estate to the Arteon line-up is seen by VW, in that it could undermine Passat sales even further. That's why there wasn't such a body option for the CC, which was made at Emden between 2004 and 2016 (and also in China from 2010 until earlier this year). Now though, insiders hint that there will be an Arteon Variant/Shooting Brake - call it what you will - although the timing of its arrival is yet to be confirmed.

The VW brand is skipping October's Paris show but Volkswagen AG's boss Herbert Diess favours non-show media events anyway. The reason for that is to maximise publicity for new models. We might therefore not necessarily need to wait until Geneva 2019, which is when VW is next due to have a presence at a major European show.

Even without (yet) offering prospects the option of a car to challenge the new Volvo V60, Volkswagen is keeping the Arteon in the news. One of its JVs in China has started manufacturing it in the city of Changchun although FAW-VW's model retains the name of the former car: Volkswagen CC. The engine line-up there is different to what we have here in Europe too, the lack of diesels being the main change.

If Volkswagen could give the 1.5-litre engine another 50PS and 50Nm, things would be a lot better.

Cylinder deactivation for 1.5 TSI Evo

The new 1.5 TSI Evo gives British dealers a lower pricing point into the car and is doubly well timed for being a fresh petrol option. Until recently, the 280PS 2.0-litre turbo was supplemented by just the one other non-diesel unit, a 190PS 2.0 TSI. It's a pity that the market for diesels still hasn't finished falling, as in many ways, the Volkswagen Group's latest TDIs are some of the best in the business.

The 1.5-litre engine does a good job of hauling this long, heavy (from 1,505kg in 150PS 1.5 TSI form but over 1,700kg as a 280PS 2.0 TSI) front-wheel drive hatchback. You probably wouldn't want an engine with less power than this though. Clearly, the company realises that as the 1.5 TSI's horsepower output is as low as it goes for any Arteon. In a perfect world, this smallest capacity petrol turbo would be able to match the torque output of the 150PS 2.0 TDI. In reality, it's at quite a disadvantage, with 250Nm versus 400Nm for the diesel.

One thing the 2.0 TDI will not do as willingly as the new 1.5 TSI Evo - to give the engine its official name - is rev. At times it can do a little too much of that, as now and then the seven-speed DSG will hold a ratio longer than the driver might think sounds necessary. The exhaust note isn't unpleasant; it's more that it can be a touch strained - all noise and not much extra go. If Volkswagen could give this engine another 50PS and 50Nm, things would be a lot better.

No-one can fault the new 1.5 for economy. Thanks to things such as cylinder deactivation, it delivers up to 58.9mpg, which is the Extra Urban number. A more realistic average is somewhere between the 38.2mpg and 48.7mpg for the Urban and Combined cycles. The car left me showing 43mpg which is outstanding for a petrol engine in a vehicle of this size. If there was a touch more torque, the DSG would have spent more time in higher ratios, improving things even further, I suspect.

The Arteon made available for testing was in Elegance specification. That's one of two model grades in the UK market, the other being R-Line. A base trim which exists in Germany is not offered here.

Pricing before options starts at a very reasonable GBP31,885. That includes the dual-clutch gearbox but owners can instead choose a six-speed manual alternative with this engine. That also applies to the 150PS 2.0 TDI and 190PS TDI. As for 4Motion all-wheel drive, that is standard-fit for the most powerful diesel and petrol engines.

As spacious as a Superb

Anyone who prefers petrol-power in their Arteon has a compelling new alternative to the TDIs and 2.0-litre petrol variants.

Things which really set this car apart from its few contemporaries include the styling, a vast capacity for luggage (563 litres, and lifting the boot carpet revealed a spare tyre), and an almost incredible amount of rear leg room. Some of these things I have spoken more about in a review of the 2.0 TSI so won't repeat them here.

One thing which differs on the Arteon I most recently drove was the very welcome improvement of electric assistance for the tailgate, even if it's an option. Disappointingly though, there is still no wash-wipe for the back window. Also, a reversing camera would be better than the beeps plus lines on the infotainment screen which change colour as the bumper closes in on stationary objects.

Conclusion

With the new engine, the Arteon makes a strong case for spending less than GBP32,000, even if many might prefer to pay a bit more and instead take a TDI and its additional 150Nm. The 1.5 TSI Evo though, delivers on its promise, as the package of a 137mph top speed, 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds (with DSG) and CO2 emissions of 131g/km shows. Anyone who prefers or has to have petrol-power in their Arteon has a compelling new alternative to the costlier 2.0-litre petrol and diesel variants.

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