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Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

The unloved Volkswagen Arteon returns after a makeover – this time with a Shooting Brake hybrid version. We took its sporty model for a spin to see if it hits the target.

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )
By Tim Barnes-Clay
Dec 02, 2021
Pros:
  • Striking looks
  • Powerful acceleration
  • Impressive interior
Cons:
  • Inferior handling
  • Mundane to drive
  • Short all-electric range
Regit rating:
“ 7 / 10 ”
Starting price:
£42,930 as tested

Introduction

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Volkswagen means ‘people’s car’ – and the whole ethos of the brand is that it offers a quality product to the masses.

The Arteon Shooting Brake, though, pushes boundaries with striking looks and a real presence.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Shooting Brake’, it simply means an estate car. Though there’s no exact definition, Shooting Brakes tend to have sweeping rear windows and bulbous rear ends.

Nevertheless, it’s still a four-door executive car. It’s a hybrid, too. And this one is the R-Line version.

The original Arteon – a saloon – was okay, but little more than that. Satisfactory. But only a ‘C+’ from the schoolteacher. But now it's back, and VW has had several years to address its weaknesses.

The R-Line is the mid-trim, between entry-level Elegance – which prioritises corporate sophistication – and ‘R’, described by VW as ‘sheer, unadulterated power’.

R-Line is effectively the bridge between the two – thrills beyond the reach of the former without the pants-on-fire performance of the latter.

It’s available with a choice of 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrols and two different power-rated 2.0-litre diesels. But it’s the eHybrid we’re testing.

It’s only a 1.4-litre engine with a six-speed DSG automatic, but combined with the electric motor, it’s more potent with 218PS. However, unlike the diesels, which are available with four-wheel drive, the eHybrid is only front-wheel drive.

It’s heavily based on the hybrid powertrain of the Golf GTE, although the decision to give it less power than in the Golf is counter-intuitive, given the Shooting Brake is heavier. Perhaps VW hoped to tempt people to buy the full-beans 320PS ‘R’ version.

The R-Line includes 19-inch alloy wheels, sporty bumpers, automatic headlights, a heat-insulating windscreen, frameless windows and high beam assist. It also has privacy glass, a black roof lining, six-way electrically adjustable seats, a leather sports steering wheel, a ‘Discover Media’ infotainment system with SatNav and voice activation. 

Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a Digital Cockpit Pro instrument display, a DAB radio, keyless entry/start, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, 30-colour ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof and adaptive cruise control are also part of the package.


 

On The Road

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Performance

The car starts in all-electric mode, although the engine switches on when required – or when requested – with a smooth changeover.

When the engine is running, acceleration is rapid, with 0-62mph dispatched in a reasonable 7.8-seconds.

When you floor it, power delivery is instantaneous, and the six-speed gearbox upshifts smoothly. But, mind you, it isn’t as refined as the seven-speed available elsewhere in the range.

All-electric mode is ideally suited to town driving and stop-start traffic.

Compared with the non-hybrid versions, though, the VW feels restrained. Partly because it feels underpowered but also because the weight of the electric motor and batteries adds up. As a result, it feels like you’re lugging an extra passenger around.

Nevertheless, a kerb weight of 1,815kg is still lighter than some hybrids, many of which are over two tonnes.

Other hybrids in VW’s collection are known by the moniker GTE, but this is an eHybrid. Curiously, it has a GTE button in it, which maximises performance when pushed. How odd.


 

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Ride Handling

You get adaptive dampers as standard, improving ride comfort, but the added weight spoils the handling a bit.

Around bends, the VW struggles if you push it. When exploring limits, it understeers on entry – the result of correcting it is quite a bit of body lean. This reduces your confidence to try and maximise performance when cornering.

Yes, it has tonnes of grip and precise steering, but this isn’t enough on its own. It isn’t agile enough. But, despite this, it still feels stable.

There is a Sport mode, but the shortcomings in its spriteliness mean it doesn’t serve much of a purpose. As a result, it’s not that much fun to drive. A rear-wheel-drive option would help.

Lumps and bumps are quickly taken care of, although there is the odd thump and bounce over potholes at lower speeds.


 

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Styling

There’s no typically VW conservatism in the Arteon’s looks. It’s a far cry from the mad-looking Scirocco a few years ago, but it shares the same sense that the designers were told to let their hair down.

It still looks like a Volkswagen, but the upper and lower grilles are effectively merged, with pronounced vertical lines. These span across the front, swooping upwards, continuing between the glass of the front headlights, creating an evil smile. Aggressive air intakes fill the gaps in the corners, too.

Down the side, it’s a little more restrained, although thin fenders complement the sporty look. What’s more, indentations run along the entire length of the lower doors above a chrome strip, adding definition to the shape.

The bulbous rear end significantly overhangs the back wheels, while the rear has a cleaner design. New taillights reach around from the sides, adding to the attractiveness. The word 'ARTEON' is spelt out along the boot-lid, too.


 

In The Car

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Behind the Wheel

The interior is awe-inspiring. The old Arteon’s cabin looked like it had been lifted from a Passat. This doesn’t. It’s far better in design, layout, feel and quality, with soft, plush materials.

The digital dials are clear, while, thankfully, the Arteon gets the older Discover Media infotainment system (problems have plagued the newer version). It’s responsive, and simple to use. There are physical controls, too, although the climate control uses haptic touch sliders, which are challenging to operate on the move. Furthermore, rear visibility is limited, yet there’s no reversing camera.


 

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Space & Practicality

The seats are supremely comfortable and relaxing to sit in.

Whilst rivals offer a sportier environment, the Arteon’s restrained driving experience suits the comfort-focused interior nicely.

There is a lot of space in the front, while in the back, legroom is plentiful. A trio of adults in the rear might be a little onerous on long journeys, but they’ll fit. Even taller adults will love how much headroom there is in the outer seats.

Disappointingly, the rear windows only open about halfway, which is plain peculiar. Also, there’s only one 12-volt socket in the back and no USB ports.

There’s a couple of cupholders in the centre console; although the storage space isn’t huge, the top of the cubby extends out to form a comfortable armrest. There are a two USB ports in the front, a reasonably-sized glove compartment, and a smaller glove box on the driver’s side. The door bins are well-sized, too, but there’s no wireless phone charger available.

The boot opens electronically and is a capacious 590-litres, expanding to 1,632-litres with the rear seats folded 60:40. However, you must lean all the way in to push the chairs down while the seats form a bit of a ridge in the boot when folded. There’s a rather large boot lip, too.


 

Ownership

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Running Costs

Thanks to the 13kWh battery, Volkswagen claims the Arteon eHybrid has an electric-only range of 38-miles. But around the 30-mark is more likely in the real world.

That isn’t a lot and won’t suit those who need to drive long distances regularly.

In hybrid mode, though, Volkswagen claims it’ll do 208.3mpg, emitting just 31g/km of CO2.

Low Benefit-In-Kind tax will suit company car owners, while road tax is just £10 for the first year.


 

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Quality & Reliability

Volkswagen's reliability has come under scrutiny in recent years, and no longer gets the benefit of the doubt because it’s German.

The old Arteon had average reliability, while VW has drifted between above and below average in reliability surveys.

A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is offered as standard (unlimited for the first two years), while extended warranties and servicing plans are also available.


 

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

Safety & Security

The Arteon saloon earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2017, scoring 96% for adults, 85% for children and 82% for safety assists.

That rating will hold for the Shooting Brake version, too.

The model also has crash detection, tyre pressure loss indicator, adaptive cruise control, a driver alert system with fatigue detection and road sign detection. Other safety tech includes hill-start assist, a front-facing camera, front and rear parking sensors, plus travel assist with lane keep and traffic jam assist.


 

Summary

Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake R-Line eHybrid (2021 - )

The Arteon Shooting Brake eHybrid is frustrating – because it’s close to being excellent.

The VW is comfortable, practical, accelerates well, it’s reasonably priced for its size, and it’s superbly attractive. What’s more, it comes with low running costs, and the hybrid is pretty refined.

However, the R-Line talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. It doesn't live up to its athletic looks and isn’t a match for the BMW 3-Series Touring (the 330i M Sport is slightly cheaper).

VW’s decision to give it 22PS less than a lighter Golf with the same powertrain raises suspicions that it’s a deliberate ploy to tempt you to buy the ‘R’ version. 

On the other hand, VW’s Passat Estate hybrid costs almost the same. Yet, with the Arteon, you get far more striking looks and more features as standard.

In that respect, what’s not to like?


 

By Tim Barnes-Clay
Dec 02, 2021