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New Volkswagen Arteon eHybrid 2021 review

The Volkswagen Arteon eHybrid’s plug-in drivetrain adds efficiency to the elegant executive’s range of talents

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The Volkswagen Arteon eHybrid uses a known toolkit of parts, so the outcome of this recipe is relatively predictable. The plug-in model offers strong efficiency (with the battery charged), plenty of kit and the car is a bit more stylish than some VWs. It’s not that sporty, but majors on refinement and a ride that on the whole is comfortable.

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Volkswagen’s Arteon Fastback is a more emotional alternative to the practical Passat saloon. But adding the firm’s eHybrid plug-in powertrain means it can now appeal to the head as well as the heart, and this petrol-electric set-up is well suited to the swoopy Arteon.

The car is a premium product that focuses on refinement, and the 1.4 TSI eHybrid delivers plenty of this, thanks to its electrical assistance. The electric motor makes 113bhp on its own, taking the total output to 215bhp and 400Nm of torque. It’s this that helps whisk the Arteon along in relative refinement.

VW claims a total of 39 miles of electric running, but in our experience this was closer to 30 miles. Still, in EV mode performance is adequate and the Arteon will easily be able to travel at motorway speeds without troubling its combustion engine.

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Running on electric power alone, you occasionally notice the older six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission’s slightly more binary approach to shifting compared with newer automatic hybrids, but it’s better with both motors contributing.

Here the electric motor adds a worthwhile boost to the car’s performance – 0-62mph takes a fair 7.8 seconds – and the Arteon is civilised when just cruising around. Refinement breaks down a little once the battery is depleted, because the 1.4 unit has to shoulder the load itself. As a result, it gets a little more vocal than when both power sources are working in tandem.

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To charge the 13.0kWh battery takes three and a half hours using a 3.6kW feed from a wallbox, rising to five hours with a standard three-pin domestic supply.

There’s also a driving mode to charge the battery. However, this seems counter-productive to the Arteon eHybrid’s ethos of reducing its environmental impact, since it uses the petrol engine as a generator. It’s good to charge the battery for use in a zero-emission zone, but efficiency will plummet well below the official 256.8mpg claim.

Limit your journeys to match the Arteon’s battery range, though, and it should be frugal, while CO2 emissions of just 26g/km mean an 11 per cent Benefit-in-Kind company car tax rating that makes it an affordable car for business users.

However, the extra weight that the battery and electric motor add means that the Arteon doesn’t offer the level of agility its looks might suggest. That mass means it’s more lethargic in corners than its pure-ICE equivalent. Its handling is neat and tidy, with just a flash more fun than a Passat, but not much. Its mature road manners mean that it’s a good cruiser, though, where the hybrid system’s refinement pays dividends.

Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers are fitted as standard, but they’re best left in comfort, where the ride offers a good balance of smoothness and control.
In the sportier modes the car becomes a little choppier and is less settled.

There’s a 563-litre boot on offer behind the big, powered tailgate, so practicality is fine, even if headroom in the rear is a little tighter than in a conventional saloon, owing to the swooping roofline that defines the Arteon’s styling.

In Elegance trim you get three-zone climate control, keyless operation, semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control, a 10.25-inch digital dash and an eight-inch infotainment system with nav.

There’s plenty of safety and assistance features too, including adaptive LED lights, lane assist with road-edge recognition, blind- spot monitoring, autonomous braking, all-round parking sensors and a rear camera.

Model:Volkswagen Arteon 1.4 TSI eHybrid Elegance
Price:£40,510
Engine:1.4-litre 4cyl petrol + e-motor
Power/torque:215bhp/400Nm
Transmission:Six-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 
0-62/top spd:7.8 seconds/138mph
Economy/CO2:256.8mpg/26g/km
Battery/range:13.0kWh/39 miles
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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