Volkswagen Arteon R available to order from £51,615

Volkswagen’s sleek hatchback is now available in R-form, Shooting Brake also joins the range

Following its reveal in June 2020, the new Volkswagen Arteon R is now available to order in the UK with first cars expected to hit our roads before the end of the year. Prices for the range-topping saloon start from £51,615, rising to £52,435 for Shooting Brake.

The Arteon followed up the Passat CC in taking the marque’s large saloon down a sleeker path, despite the continued erosion of sales to its SUVs. Rather than retract from the market though, Volkswagen instead doubled down, giving the whole range a big update inside and out, introducing a sleek new Shooting Brake and adding the two flagship R models. 

> Volkswagen Tiguan R 2021 review – performance with a big price

It’s this Arteon R that is the most interesting new addition to the range, featuring the new generation of Volkswagen R power and drivetrain components that can also be found in the new Tiguan and Golf R models. The powertrain is essentially the same EA888 four-cylinder engine as the previous Golf R, but has undergone a substantial overhaul in its ‘evo4’ form, resulting in peak power and torque figures of 315bhp and 310lb ft respectively. While these don’t represent big increases on figures for the current engine (19bhp and 30lb ft), the more telling figure is where in the rev band these peaks are, hitting peak power from 5800rpm right through to 6400rpm, only a few hundred RPM from the red line. 

Connected to the engine is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with power being sent to all four wheels via a Haldex-style all-wheel-drive system and a new-for-VW torque vectoring rear differential. This system is a physical one rather than a vector-by-braking system, consisting of a clutch pack in the rear-axle drive unit that’s able to physically send torque to each wheel, similar in principle to the unit found in the AMG A45 S. The ‘Torque Splitter’ as VW calls it gives the Arteon R an ability to send up to 100 per cent of the available torque to each individual rear wheel, dramatically changing the dynamic characteristics of the all-wheel-drive system.

This is matched to standard-fit adaptive dampers and a specially tuned stability control system which, in a similar fashion to the yellow traction control knob in an AMG GT R, is able to be incrementally disabled via a slider within the infotainment system. Volkswagen has also focused on the Arteon’s ability to have its ESC safety net switched off completely, giving us reason to believe that the new rear differential should make power-oversteer action in the realms of possibility. In something based on a Passat! Together, all of this technology makes the new Arteon R more than just an old Golf R in a sleek body.

Aside from these mechanical changes, the Arteon R also features bespoke exterior styling, new 20-inch ‘Estoril’ alloy wheels, an uprated brake package, an active exhaust system exiting through new quad-exhaust outlets, bespoke R interior trim and VW’s latest-generation R steering wheel with a dedicated R-mode switch and a substantial new set of gearshift paddles.

These Arteon R-specific updates are then combined with a selection of other changes across the whole range, including an adoption of VW’s latest infotainment system within a 9.2-inch touchscreen display, standard-fit digital instrument cluster, new touch-sensitive ventilation controls and a new upper dash, incorporating new trim elements and an extended application of multi-coloured ambient lighting. The new Shooting Brake and its hatchback siblings also pick up plenty of exterior design changes, such as new bumpers, wheel designs and colours across the range. New LED lighting units at the rear and a full-width front-mounted light bar connecting each headlight’s integrated running lights also sharpen the Arteon’s aesthetic. These new elements only accentuate the Arteon’s concept car-like styling, looking sleek and modern, especially in Shooting Brake form.

Other Arteon engine options include the usual suite of Volkswagen’s four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, but new for both the hatchback and Shooting Brake is a plug-in eHybrid variant which shares its powertrain with the new Golf GTE. The 215bhp hybrid model is able to switch between full electric and hybrid modes, achieving up to 30 miles on a single charge of its 13kWh battery pack. The electric motor here is combined with the same 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and bespoke six-speed DSG ’box.

Order books for the new Arteon are open now, with prices for the R range-topper beginning at a steep £51,615 and rising to £52,435 for Shooting Brake.

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