So it was full marks to the designers of the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake which never failed on our test to impress others with its sleek styling and practical design.
The Arteon Saloon has been a great success for Volkswagen and they will build on that with the Shooting Brake, which is a modern estate offering up to 1,632-litres maximum luggage capacity.
When you don’t need all that room, the five-seater is a truly executive way to travel and still have useful space for some items behind the back seats with a low-level and well shaped floor, while the side panel incorporate some handy hanging hooks and it’s all covered with a quick release roller cover.
At the other end the big estate with its R-Line spec and a 190hp TSI turbo-petrol 2.0-litre engine with 7-speed auto transmission was well up to its task with plenty of power even from low revs, very good mid-range punch and utterly composed character on motorways and main roads. There is also the engine choice of 1.5 TSI petrol 150hp, 2.0 TDI 150hp and 2.0-litre TDI 200hp including a 4Motion 4WD option with that engine. For ‘greener’ motoring there is also a 1.4 TSI petrol eHybrid 156hp engine/electric motor option. Prices at the time of writing range from just under £31,965 to almost £41,980 and well beyond once options are fitted as our test car proved ending up with an on-the-road price of £47,215 from its quoted £37,290 without the extras.
It’s a quiet unit even when pushed to perform and it delivers smoothly and without drama as it works through the seven gears in the automatic box, with their seamless engagement and strong pull. The excellence of the powertrain shows up in its performance and economy of comfortably over 40mpg.
Less easy to see but you experience is the very strong brakes underfoot with their drama-free delivery of stopping power and a delightfully balanced steering system which turns quickly and tightly without being twitchy or suffering kickbacks over bad surfaces.
The secondary controls were all well located around the driver, on the wheel, column or fascia and console and the instruments with their changeable displays were always big and clear. A big infotainment screen performed a multitude of tasks with speed and clarity and it was comprehensive and straightforward.
The system for heating and cooling the cabin was effective with good output, directional control and temperature selection, backed up with powered windows and a huge sunroof.
Oddments space was abundant throughout and in keeping with a family shooting brake.
Access for driver and passengers was good with wide opening doors and the seats were shaped to give very good support and location with particularly good adjustment range in front. The back three seats were flatter but still comfortable and the rear seat legroom and headroom were good.
Visibility was fairly clear except when pulling out from the kerb or a junction and the C and D-pillars presented a blind spot over the shoulder. Front and rear sensors were very good for parking.
Very bright long-range lights were welcome on dark nights, while the wipers and washers cleared a big area of glass. Designers have used lighting strips at the front to define shape and increase visibility.
The ride quality was excellent over any surface, the Arteon ST soaking up all manner of potholes and bumps and that can be a problem for some semi-estates which have to blend load-carrying capacity with lighter use. But not in this car.
Along with the good ride came a surprisingly sporty feel to the handling, with excellent grip, no rolling or pitching and excellent manners on twisting roads.
Noise levels can also be an issue without a rear bulkhead but the Arteon was quiet and well insulated from suspension and tyre noises, with very low engine rumbles and no wind noise to speak of.
The Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake really looked and felt very well put together, was quiet and packed performance punch in a silk glove. It’s refined and sophisticated and made a mockery of some luxury cars costing twice as much. It is also a tough challenger to VW’s sister brand Audi.
Mini Milestones: Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake 2.0TSI, auto, R-Line.Price: £37,290 but £47,215 as tested with options.Mechanical: 190hp 4-cylinder, 2.0 turbo-petrol, 7-speed auto.Performance: 145mph, 0-62mph 7.9-seconds,Combined MPG: 42.CO2 emissions: 149g/km.Tax costs: BiK company car tax rate 33%, VED First Year road tax £215 then £155 Standard rate but if the £40k on-the-road price cap is reached then add the new higher rate of £335 annually for 5-years to that Standard rate.Insurance Group: 25E.Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles.Size: L4.87m, W1.88m, H1.46m.Boot space: 590 - 1632 litres.Kerbweight: 1625kg.For: Refinement, powertrain, ride, room, fuel economy, reasonable tax costs.Against: Some blind-spots when reversing or pulling out at a road junction, low-level road rumble and suspension noises, average warranty. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency