First Drive: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line


First Drive: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line

After many, many months of waiting, the Volkswagen Arteon has finally showed up here. We take the R-Line variant for a short spin and see what it’s like.

Changes in government, tax structure, and an entire pandemic have been massive roadblocks for the Volkswagen Arteon’s local launch, but after a tonne of hard work by the good folks at Volkswagen Passenger Car Malaysia (VPCM), the successor to the Volkswagen CC has arrived. It’s perhaps not the car we thought we would be receiving, but it is very exciting nonetheless.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Tail Light

First, let’s look at where the Arteon came from. The Arteon’s namesake may not exist in Volkswagen’s history, but spiritually the model is derived from the Passat CC – roughly three model generations ago. The Passat CC was a sleeker, larger, better equipped version of the Passsat available at the time, and it came with either a 2.0 TSI powertrain or the ever interesting 3.6-litre VR6 powerplant in the Passat CC R-Line.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Cluster

The next generation to be made available here was known simply as the Volkswagen CC, and was offered with just a 1.8-litre TSI engine. It wasn’t vastly different from the regular Passats available at the time, save for the fact that it had frameless windows, so perhaps it was a bit of a letdown. The arrival of the Arteon steps things up – perhaps in the right direction as well.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Interior

For starters, at the RM 221,065 sticker price you get an impressive level of equipment. The 2.0 TSI engine at the heart of the Arteon R-Line may have a slightly lower output than other 2.0 TSIs in the Volkswagen range at 190 PS and 320 Nm, but paired with a 7-speed wet-clutch DSG you hardly feel the difference in performance.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Front Rolling

Our test drive route for the car was the return journey from Janda Baik to Kuala Lumpur, and unfortunately we were met with some pretty incredible precipitation that meant we were barely doing faster than a crawl for most of the journey. Thankfully though, we had spent time going through the same dynamics and handling course that we did with the Tiguan Allspace R-Line, and as is characteristic of Volkswagen models the Arteon can execute emergency braking, lane changes, or slaloms without missing a step.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Rear Three Quarter

A short blast up to Gohtong Jaya and back also revealed that the Arteon is highly competent in the damp, although one still needs to be a little careful when accelerating out of tighter corners as the immense torque can overload the front wheels. Weight transfer and directional changes are nice and progressive, letting you feed inputs through the steering wheel and pedals without fear of the car suddenly losing grip. It would perhaps have been a little more pleasant with a 4MOTION system, but understandably the percentage of customers who would notice it doesn’t justify bringing the price up for everyone else.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Tailgate

As mentioned earlier, the majority of our time with the Arteon was in bumper to bumper traffic – which gave us a little time to explore the interior and functionality. One thing that really puts a smile on my face is the lift-back style tailgate which allows for extremely easy loading and unloading of cargo, as well as plenty of actual cargo space. It’s such a practical feature, and one that bridges the gap between wagon and sedan, but one that is seldom found with passenger cars today.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Head Unit

The infotainment system is as you would expect with a modern Volkswagen – crisp, clean functionality and responsiveness in an unassuming, minimalist package. With the Dynaudio 11-speaker, 700-watt setup sound is reproduced with good clarity, even above the din of a rainstorm outside. Very rarely do we actually get to test these functions out on a drive as we’re always heading from one location to the next.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Shift Lever

The Dynamic Chassis Control system is a welcome addition, especially when paired with drive mode functionality as it lets you flit between comfortable economical drive modes when you want to cruise, and sharper, more responsive settings for spirited driving. There is a noticeable difference in how the car rides between the various suspension settings as well, being noticeably more plush in Comfort mode.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Rolling

To find out more about the Arteon R-Line, check out our launch story here.

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