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The new Volkswagen Arteon – an avant-garde gran turismo

2018-01-03
  • Combines comfort and spaciousness of a sedan with design and driving dynamics of a sports car
  • A long wheelbase in proportion to its overall length gives the Arteon excellent cabin spaciousness
  • Efficient turbocharged TSI engine with 280 PS of power

 

There are traditional sedans, and there are sports cars. The former offer a great deal of space and comfort, while the latter feature sharp styling and pure performance. Volkswagen is introducing a new model that combines these two automotive worlds - the Arteon. This is a gran turismo featuring an avant-garde design and a great deal of space. It is efficient and powerful with a distinct performance character, yet it is also comfortable like a luxury sedan, making it perfectly suited for everyday use. The Arteon sets new benchmarks in its segment, and marks the start of a new design era at Volkswagen.

In 2015, Volkswagen presented an avant-garde concept car at the Geneva International Motor Show - the Sport Coupe Concept GTE. The statement it made then was clear: this gran turismo will usher in a new phase of Volkswagen design. Now, the concept car that garnered worldwide attention has entered production nearly unchanged.

The name of the Arteon is derived from two parts: 'art' describes the car's outstanding lines and emotionality, and 'eon' defines it as a luxury model. The Arteon is positioned above the Passat in the Volkswagen line-up, and is produced at the German plant in Emden. It is designed on the Volkswagen modular transverse matrix (MQB) vehicle platform - this matrix is used for a wide range of vehicle classes, and features a transversely-mounted front engine.

Thanks to the MQB, the Arteon has dynamic proportions and plenty of space. Standout features of the Arteon include a bonnet with a clamshell design that extends a long way forward and partially over both wings. The wide radiator grille encompasses the car's full width. A long wheelbase of 2,837 mm spans the axles of the car - this allows for plentiful legroom in the Arteon as well as the largest boot capacity in its class. Accordingly, the body overhangs of the 4,862 mm long model are short. Also designed in the style of a sports car is the powerful shoulder section at the rear, the muscular wings and the flared wheel arches.

On the inside, the Arteon impresses with the Active Info Display (a fully digital and configurable instrument cluster), Head-up Display, and the Discover Pro infotainment system featuring a 9.2-inch capacitive glass screen and gesture control. The Area View system is also available on the Arteon - this camera-based surroundings visualisation system enables a 360-degree view around the car.

At launch, Volkswagen is offering the Arteon R-Line, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged TSI engine with 280 PS of power and 350 Nm of torque. It features the 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive system, a quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG), as well as the latest generation of Dynamic Chassis Control. A Dynaudio sound system is also available on the Arteon R-Line.

In detail: Exterior design

The Arteon is 4,862 mm long, 1,871 mm wide and 1,450 mm tall. Its athletic lines encompass a highly functional overall concept. "The Arteon combines the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback. An avant-garde business-class gran turismo that speaks to the heart and head alike", says Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design. With its long wheelbase, stretched roofline, coupé-style fastback design, and a large rear hatch, this gran turismo provides more space and flexibility than conventional sedans.

A dynamic front end. The design of the Arteon is expressive, logical, and precise. The radiator grille is the widest and deepest of the entire Volkswagen range - this is the 'face' of a new Volkswagen generation. The upper cross-bars enclose the LED headlights, and simultaneously, finely-integrated LED light conductors perform the functions of daytime running lights and position lights. The lighting elements, radiator grille, and bonnet form one harmonious unit.

Bonnet like that of a sports car. Another key feature of the Arteon is its bonnet with a clamshell design that extends over the entire front end and up to the wheel arches. It extends slightly over the LED headlights, and runs over the headlights while continuing the lines of the radiator grille further into the sides and to the rear of the car. The bonnet is also one of the largest in the entire Volkswagen Group. When the bonnet is opened, the wheel housing shells are visible - this is unconventional for a car of this type. On the sides, the sharp bonnet lines over the wheel wells give the Arteon an extremely low and sporty look.

A superior side and rear profile. "We have a line", says Bischoff, "that runs through the entire car and brings the volume of the Arteon even closer to the ground." This is also known as the character line. It starts in the radiator grille, runs cleanly over the side profile, and goes into the tail lights.

The character line then develops into a sharp undercut at the rear, visually reducing the height of the Arteon and carries the strong shoulder section upwards. Above this, there is the long line of windows known as a daylight opening (DLO) that extends into the C pillar. The door windows themselves are frameless, while the DLO is surrounded by an elegant chrome frame. The DLO gives the Arteon an elegant, low and coupé-like look in conjunction with the strong character line.

Viewed from the rear, it is clear to see the dominance of the shoulder sections. The muscular form stretches to the side and into the rear bodywork. From a slightly elevated perspective, this produces a rear end design which follows the example of a classic sports car in its lines - a coupé-shaped glasshouse (roof and glass surfaces) on strong flanks. In addition, the concise LED tail lights create an unmistakeable night design. The Arteon is also equipped with a dynamic turn signal.

In detail: Car body concept

Structurally, the MQB allows for a combination of ultra high-strength and hot-stamped steel in the car's bodywork. This results in extremely high body rigidity which is one of the most critical factors with respect to achieving optimal handling and superior ride comfort.

Excellent body rigidity. Despite the large rear hatch of the Arteon, body rigidity has been increased by 10% as measured against a comparable model. This allows for very precise steering, high vehicle responsiveness, and optimal ride comfort, with the latter manifesting itself in very sturdy body attributes when passing over road bumps. Ultra high-strength steel is used in areas of the vehicle such as the side sills, as well as the side members and crossmembers of the body. Hot-formed steel is used for the B-pillars, centre tunnel, bulkhead (front transverse panel between the interior and the engine compartment), rear side members and roof side members. This results in an extremely comfortable and agile car whose passive safety is among the best in its class thanks in part to its innovative body construction.

Aerodynamics leading to fine driving dynamics. When tuning the aerodynamics of the Arteon, a balance was achieved between a low aerodynamic drag (Cd figure of 0.265) and downforce levels, thereby benefiting handling. This was achieved thanks to a sophisticated overall package of aerodynamic design features, including details such as the sharply contoured trailing edge above the tail lights. The balance of downforce levels at the front and rear axles stabilises the rear end of the vehicle to help optimise chassis tuning. This results in confident handling and high stability all the way up to top speed. Due to its excellent downforce figures at the rear axle, the Arteon has no need of a rear spoiler that is deployable at high speeds.


In detail: Interior design

The clean design, high level of ergonomic efficiency and numerous interactive interfaces between human and machine create a calm, elegant and progressive atmosphere in the Arteon.

Avant-garde on the inside as well. A sensation of superior spaciousness is realised upon sliding into the driver's seat of the Arteon. The central design element of the dashboard is an innovative air vent - it is a functional yet decorative element that extends across the width of the interior like a band, appearing to wrap around the 5 passengers like a cocoon. This impression is completed by fine chrome trim strips on the vent louvres, creating a visual link to the cross-bars of the Arteon radiator grille. Elegant ambient lighting (in blue, white, or yellow) further accentuates the interior and provides a soothing ambience in the Arteon.

Digital cockpit environment. The Arteon underscores its appeal with standard features such as the Active Info Display with fully digital and configurable instruments, a Head-up Display, and the Discover Pro infotainment system. The infotainment system features an impressive glass-covered 9.2-inch display and includes gesture control. Connectivity for today's Apple and Android smartphones is provided via App-Connect - approved smartphone apps can be used over the infotainment system.

Abundance of space. The Arteon offers the volume of a business class gran turismo. Volkswagen has made full use of the long wheelbase to provide excellent space for all 5 occupants of the Arteon. With the MQB, a lot of space is created by the transversely mounted engine and the forward positioning of the front axle. This allows for a generous front interior width of 1,500 mm. The sense of spaciousness also holds true for the interior height, which reaches a maximum of 1,008 mm in the front. As for the rear passengers, the Arteon offers legroom that is best in class: the figure of 1,016 mm allows the Arteon to compete with luxury sedans in the over five metres category. Rear headroom is also excellent at 940 mm thanks to the long roof. The outer rear seats feature ISOFIX retaining rings as standard.

Generous boot volume. With the asymmetrically-folding rear backrest and generous interior length of the Arteon, there is a measure of flexibility which far exceeds that of a traditional sedan. The middle seat position also features an armrest which can be folded down, and behind it is a large pass-through opening which can be used to accommodate long items. The large rear hatch and foldable rear seat backrest of the Arteon help provide an SUV-like amount of luggage space - 563 litres with rear seats up, and up to 1,557 litres with the rear backrest folded down.


In detail: Running gear

The running gear of the Arteon has been specifically enhanced when compared against comparable Volkswagen MQB models, thus tailor making it for use in the gran turismo. Unique in its competitive class, the well-balanced blend of excellent handling and superior ride comfort becomes particularly evident with the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). With the latest generation of DCC, the Arteon offers greater dynamic configurability - in the Individual mode, drivers can customise the car's suspension on a sliding scale. The range of settings has also been extended, including the Comfort+ and Sport+ profiles. The new near-infinitely adaptable shock absorbers together with an increased range of adjustment deliver a quality reminiscent of vehicles equipped with air suspension.

The Arteon distinguishes itself in particular through its highly direct and precise steering response, extremely low roll angle, and its neutral handling. Thanks to the large track widths (1,591 mm front / 1,581 mm rear), the car impresses with its excellent lateral dynamics; in addition to the suspension layout, the long wheelbase also provides added comfort. Last but not least, the car achieves a successful balance of good ride comfort, well controlled body movements and excellent isolation of high-frequency vibrations.

As for the drivetrain, the top-of-the- range TSI engine in the Arteon R-Line (capacity of 1,984 cc) develops a peak power output of 280 PS between 5,100 and 6,500 rpm. Its maximum torque of 350 Nm is available through a wide engine speed range of 1,700 to 5,600 rpm. This helps propel the Arteon from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds - its top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. The Arteon R-Line consumes 7.3 litres of petrol per 100 km in the combined driving cycle, and it emits 164 g/km of CO2.


In detail: Safety features

With the Arteon, Volkswagen has achieved outstanding results in the Euro NCAP crash test series - the independent European consumer protection organisation gave the Arteon the highest rating of five stars. This rating recognises the excellent occupant protection for adults and children, the driver assistance systems fitted as standard, as well as high levels of pedestrian protection. The excellent performance results from innovative driver assistance systems, optimised vehicle body structures, and a highly effective safety belt, seat and airbag combination.

Front Assist with City Emergency Brake. This system uses sensors (radars and lasers) to detect whether the distance to the vehicle or pedestrian ahead is critical, and helps to shorten the vehicle's stopping distance. In dangerous situations, the system alerts the driver by visual and audible signals, including a jolt of the brakes. It also 'prepares' the brake system for emergency braking - if the driver's braking is not forceful enough, Front Assist increases the braking pressure to the degree needed. This standard feature of the Arteon has helped it achieve 96% of the maximum score in the area of 'Adult Occupant Protection' in the Euro NCAP safety tests. For 'Child Occupant Protection', the Arteon gained 85% of the possible points.

Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert. The Side Assist blind spot monitoring system is active at speeds above 30 km/h and monitors traffic behind with the help of radar sensors. If the radar detects a vehicle in the driver's blind spot or a vehicle that is approaching fast from behind, a visual signal in the exterior mirror will be triggered. The Rear Traffic Alert system helps the driver monitor areas of restricted visibility when reversing out of a parking space - it detects approaching vehicles within a certain area and sounds an audible warning. If need be, the system can even brake the vehicle within its limits to ideally prevent a collision or at least reduce the severity of the impact.

Updated proactive occupant protection system. The Arteon features the latest generation of the proactive occupant protection system. With this update, the sensors are able to react not only to processes related to driving dynamics (such as data contributed by the Electronic Stability Control system) and to acute risks of collision from the front (registered by Front Assist), but also to hazards in the rear with data from the Side Assist and Rear Traffic Alert system. The system not only analyses data when the car is moving, but also when it is stopped with the engine running and in stop-start mode, such as at a traffic junction with lights on red. If a vehicle is detected to be moving too fast to the Arteon, the proactive occupant protection system uses the position and speed of both cars to determine the probability of a possible collision. If the system detects an imminent risk, the proactive occupation protection system is able to initiate measures within fractions of a second to lessen the consequences of any accident. The hazard warning lights come on and the system simultaneously closes all windows (except for a narrow gap that improves the bracing effect of the front head airbags) and the sliding sunroof. In parallel with this, the belt tensioners pull the front safety belts taut.

Area View. This system utilises four cameras located in the tailgate (1), door mirrors (2) and radiator grille (1). With a viewing angle of more than 180 degrees per camera, Area View captures the entire surroundings and projects this onto the screen of the infotainment system. On the display, the driver can select the camera views (front, rear, side or bird's eye view) as either a full or split screen. The system permits a total of 17 different virtual camera positions, which are arranged so that all conceivable perspectives can be displayed around the vehicle.