Volkswagen's sleek Arteon Shooting Brake offers a sleek, yet still very practical alternative to style-conscious compact executive segment models like Audi's A5 Sportback and BMW's 4 Series Gran Coupe. It's a high class stylised estate that doesn't need a ridiculously expensive boot lid badge to stand out. And a very desirable one indeed.
The Shooting Brake. It's the kind of upper class, stylised sports estate coupe, first popularised by three-door models in the '70s like the Volvo P1800ES and the Jaguar XJS-based Lynx Eventer. A concept then resurrected in 2015 by a Mercedes with the CLS Shooting Brake and subsequent CLA Shooting Brake models. Now we've this car, the Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake, like its predecessors, setting out to combine the visual elegance of a coupe with the practicality of an estate. If you happen to be familiar with the Volkswagen Arteon at all, it'll be as a Fastback, a five-door Gran Turismo-like body style that continues to be sold. The Shooting Brake model aims to broaden the Arteon's appeal, which needs doing because it hasn't sold in very large numbers since its arrival in 2018. The Shooting Brake joined the range as the line-up was facelifted in mid-2020 and as with its Fastback stablemate, can be had in conventional guise, as an EV eHybrid plug-in or as a sporting Arteon R model.
The engine range kicks off with a 150PS 1.5 TSI petrol unit with 6-speed manual transmission, but most will want the 2.0 TDI diesel, which in base form comes with 7-speed DSG auto gearboxes and a 150PS output. There's also a high power biturbo 2.0 TDI 200PS diesel option. Alternatively, there's a 190PS 2.0 TSI petrol unit, also with a DSG auto 'box. There are no mild hybrid powertrains because they won't work with this car's MQB platform. Beyond the mainstream powerplants, there are also a couple of engines new to Arteon buyers. The Arteon Shooting Brake eHybrid uses the plug-in hybrid powertrain from the Passat GTE, a 160PS 1.4 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol powerplant mated to a 115PS electric motor giving a combined output of 215PS via a DSG auto gearbox. This plug-in model offers an electric driving range of 33 miles and can run in all electric form at up to 87mph. At the top of the range is the Arteon R, which uses a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine with 320PS, a 7-speed DSG auto gearbox and an updated 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system. Refinement is excellent, as is ride quality thanks to a specially developed four-link independent rear suspension set-up that can be embellished with a sophisticated 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping system. You won't really want to go throwing this Volkswagen about: it isn't really that kind of car. But what it lacks when it comes to driving on its door handles it more than makes up for with exemplary trans-continental-style cruising ability.
The Shooting Brake body style is the same width and length as the Fastback Arteon but is 19mm taller with a flatter, longer roofline that creates this variant's unique rear end with its angled tailgate, tapering glasshouse and prominent D-pillars. The result of all that is that inside, you get more headroom, 17mm more up-front and 48mm more in the rear. There's also bigger 565-litre boot - though bear in mind the capacity falls by 110-litres in the eHybrid PHEV variant due to the battery pack beneath the floor. Fold the rear seats in the conventionally engined models and there's up to 1632-litres of space available. This Shooting Brake model does of course share the visual updates made to the Fastback variant, which include a restyled grille, revised LED headlights and smarter alloy wheel designs. At the wheel, it all feels much classier than a Passat. This updated Arteon gets a re-designed dashboard with a smarter upper section, a standard 10.25 inch digital instrument display, a revised steering wheel and Volkswagen's most up-to-date infotainment system, offered either with 8-inch or 9.2-inch touchscreens.
There's a premium of around £800 to choose this Shooting Brake body style rather than the Fastback variant. Shooting brake prices start at around £33,000. Across the range, there are three trim levels - 'SE Nav' (for the hatch model only), then 'Elegance' and 'R-Line' for both body styles. Plus there's a top of the range high performance R variant. 'Elegance'-trim models are marked out by their 18-inch 'Almere' alloy wheels and gain keyless entry across both body styles, a rear-view camera and Travel Assist - Volkswagen's adaptive cruise control and lane keeping system. On the inside, the Arteon 'Elegance' benefits from luxuries such as a leather-wrapped capacitive steering wheel with touch controls, heated seats, and voice control, while drivers can also choose between driving profiles for a customisable driving experience. The Arteon 'R-Line' offers distinctive, 19-inch 'Montevideo' alloys, while dual trapezoidal exhaust tips on each side of the bumper are moulded into a standard R-Line body kit, for an assertive, sporting appearance. A sunroof is standard on all 'R-Line' cars, while the Shooting Brake gains a standard-fit panoramic sunroof. Both cars also receive rear tinted glass and interior ambient lighting with 30 colour options. Across the entire range, all Arteon models feature Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), 3Zone climate control, Digital Cockpit, LED headlights, Wireless App Connect and Volkswagen's 'We Connect Plus' package, which adds live data services to the standard 8-inch Discover Navigation system.
As you'd expect, the Arteon Shooting Brake is extremely class-competitive in terms of WLTP running costs. The 2.0 TDI 150PS variant that most will choose manages up to 58.9mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and 136g/km of WLTP-rated CO2 in DSG auto form - not bad for a 148mph luxury conveyance. For the 190PS 2.0 TSI petrol variant, the figures are 38.2mpg and 179g/km. Insurance groups range between 21E-27E. As for servicing, well as usual with Volkswagen models, there's a choice of either 'Fixed' or 'Flexible' maintenance packages. You'll choose the 'Fixed' approach if you cover less than 10,000 miles a year and with this, the car will typically be looked at every twelve months. If your daily commute is more than 25 miles and your Arteon will regularly be driven on longer distance journeys, you'll be able to work with a 'Flexible' regime that can see you travelling up to 18,000 miles between garage visits - or every two years, whichever is sooner. And warranties? Well the standard package is three years and 60,000 miles. Plus your car will come with three years of pan-European Roadside Assistance that has no mileage restriction. The paintwork warranty lasts for three years and, as you'd expect, this model is protected by a 12-year anti-corrosion package.
We can quickly envisage a situation where most Arteon sales are of this Shooting Brake model. It's more distinctive, not only than its Fastback showroom stablemate but also than most other stylised mid-sized executive sector models that potential customers will be looking at around this price point. Most probably either the Audi A5 Sportback or the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Or perhaps estate versions of the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 or the Mercedes C-Class. Would rather have an Arteon Shooting Brake than any of those. It's more practical, better equipped for the money and arguably better built. And most of all, people will take a second glance at it - in a good way. No one you know will properly have this car on their shortlist in this segment. But add it anyway. And make your driveway a more distinctive place.