2022 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line – Review by David Colman
It’s a stunner!
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
What does VW's Golf R become when it grows up? The 2022 Arteon R-Line. If you're in the market for a civilized hot rod from Wolfsburg, look no further than the top level Arteon we drove. My wife, a CPA who is usually spot-on with her price estimates for newly delivered test cars, gave the Arteon a quick once-over and pegged its retail price at $75,000. Indeed, the chic exterior and sophisticated interior of the Arteon would appear to justify that kind of price range. However, the truth of the matter will surprise you: the top-end Arteon we tested carried an all-in sticker price of $51,140.
In many ways, the Arteon is reminiscent of VW's Phaeton, a top-level luxury sedan that enjoyed a short and stormy career in North America. Meant to compete against the Audi A8 and BMW's 7 Series, the Bentley GT-based Phaeton was introduced in 2002 but gone in North America by 2006. However, the Phaeton's heritage of sleek looks, swift performance, and exclusivity live on in the artful Arteon.
The first thing you notice about the Arteon is its abundance of interior space. Thanks to a generous wheelbase of 112 inches, and an overall length of 191 inches, both front-row and second-row seats are swamped with luxurious legroom. Even the 27 cubic foot trunk, accessed automatically via a kicking gesture, looks engagingly vast. The backs of the rear seats are equipped with a cargo pass-through. They can also be folded to produce a flat load floor with near-pickup truck dimensions. Much to VW's credit, the Arteon is equipped with a full-size spare tire mounted on an alloy rim that matches the set installed on the car.
The Nappa leather driver's seat in the loaded SEL Premium R-Line we tested had every emendation to make long stints in the saddle tolerable: heating and ventilation, power adjustability, massage function, and position memory. The leather passenger's front seat shared heating, ventilation, and power adjustability. Limousine-worthy rear seat passengers are catered to with heated outboard seats, adjustable vent ducts, and 13 inches of knee room. If you can't get comfortable in the Arteon, you can't get comfortable anywhere.
The perfectly contoured, perforated leather steering wheel is your first clue to the phenomenal sports handling baked into the Arteon speed recipe. At each corner stands a dazzling 20 x 9J alloy rim with Cuisinart-bladed spokes. Each rim is endowed with a Continental Conti Pro Contac TX radial measuring 245/35R20. Despite the fact that these TW 500 tires are Mud and Snow rated, they grip the road tenaciously, enduring high cornering loads without so much as a squeal.
They owe their effortless grip to this VW's exceptionally well-balanced suspension system. 4 Motion all-wheel drive transfers the 300hp and 295lb.-ft. of torque produced by the turbo 4-cylinder engine into a perfectly manageable grip at all four corners. VW's XDS cross-differential system allocates power from wheel to wheel and side to side like a voodoo chief presiding over Mardi Gras. The fully independent suspension system does your bidding with precision, reacts to steering wheel input without hesitation, and permits an ease of control that is deceptive for such a long-wheelbase sedan. In fact, the Arteon R-Line is in many ways easier to drive fast than either the VW Golf GTI or the Golf R.
From the outside, the fully loaded Arteon is deceptive looking. It's less expensive than it looks. It's much faster than it looks. And with its subdued styling flourishes offset by fancy pants wheels, the Arteon SEL Premium R-Line once again proves the adage that when it comes to styling, less can be more. But when it comes to sheer speed and handling, more technology is always more. In the case of the Arteon, more equates to a stunning 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds, a standing start quarter-mile run of 13.3 seconds at 103mph, and a governed top speed of 128mph. At first, I was surprised to discover VW had included a Lap Timer function in the digital dash array of the Arteon. Now I know why.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN ARTEON 2.0T SEL PREMIUM R-LINE
ENGINE: 2.0 Liter inline 4, TFSI turbocharged and intercooled, iron block and aluminum head, DOHC, 16 valves
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 22MPG City/30MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $51,140
HYPES: Suspension Magic, Ultra Quick, Sophisticated Hot Rod
GRIPES: Tiny Glove Box and Center Console
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10