New Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake 2021 review

Does the new Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake have the performance to match its looks? We find out...

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Find your Volkswagen Arteon
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?


The Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake is an accomplished and exclusive fast estate car. It’s a shame the cabin quality can’t match its image, but in typical VW R fashion, the hottest Arteon’s driving dynamics mean it feels superbly secure and surprisingly rapid. It backs this up with plenty of practicality as well as lots of standard kit. It might not be the most exciting machine in the class, but there are few situations where it will feel out of its depth – as long as you keep the adaptable suspension set-up soft to maximise comfort.

Volkswagen’s R department is on a roll. It revealed the new Golf R Estate recently as a practical, potent and pragmatic alternative to its Tiguan R SUV. However, if you like the idea of a fast estate (who doesn’t?) but want a little more elegance than the most practical Golf, then the Arteon R Shooting Brake could fit the bill. 

The recipe is predictable, but perhaps the better for it. VW’s common 316bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive, delivering superb performance.

The 0-62mph sprint only takes 4.9 seconds, while in the Arteon Shooting Brake body style there are 590 litres of boot space on offer – not quite as much as the new Golf R Estate, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the year for that model, while the Arteon’s svelte styling complete with R modifications means it delivers on its billing.

The engine is flexible, with 420Nm of torque, meaning that it’s easy to go quickly with not much effort. The gearbox shifts with a slushy edge, slurring changes smoothly, but if you ramp things up to R mode and take control manually the shifts are sharper and swifter.

The engine takes on a sportier character too. There’s significant fakery through the cabin speakers, which you might prefer to switch off, but R mode brings heightened throttle response above all else. The fat mid-range feels just as potent, but the engine still pulls hard to its red line, clearly ramping up to add to the fun.

For such a large machine with a long wheelbase it turns and grips with real agility, and four-wheel drive traction lends it plenty of security too, so you can easily exploit what it has to offer, with torque vectoring as part of the four-wheel drive system helping to keep the car’s mass in check.

However, the steering is inert in the way that all fast VWs are, offering a good degree of precision but not much in the way of feedback – and nor is the chassis that playful. There is a small level of adjustability, but despite its capability the Arteon R Shooting Brake isn’t a car you hustle too hard. It’s not a hot hatch, so it’s just fine as it is.

It’s ruthlessly rapid and efficient at dispatching ground, no matter whether the road is flowing or sinuous. But there is one caveat. The Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers feel better at the softer end of their scale, as on the R’s 19-inch wheels the ride is bouncy in the firmer settings. At least the body control is resolute, contributing to the confidence-inspiring feel. Cue up the powertrain to R and the suspension to soft in the Individual setting and there’s a lovely mix.

Inside, this balance of comfort and performance continues, with a pair of supportive R-branded bucket seats and plenty of space in the rear despite the Arteon’s low roof line.

Need to sell your car?
Find your best offer from over 5,000+ dealers. It’s that easy.

A digital dash is included, but the graphics could be a little sharper compared with its rivals from Audi and BMW, and while the main touchscreen is just as bright and a little sharper, responding quickly to inputs, the touch-sensitive climate control panel is just a little less intuitive to use on the move. However, there are no complaints of the R’s level of standard-fit kit as the Arteon flagship.

Alongside its sporty additions – silver door mirrors, big wheels, subtly pumped-up body kit and quad-exit exhaust – the R features fake carbon fibre trim inside, electric Nappa leather heated seats with massage function, a rear-view camera and safety tech such as blind spot warning, cross traffic alert and autonomous braking.

You also get a panoramic roof, adaptive cruise control with lane assist, Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired) connectivity, three-zone climate control, full keyless go, all-round parking sensors, LED headlights and a heated steering wheel.

And at £52,585 so you should, because the Arteon R Shooting Brake isn’t cheap, but offering up to 31mpg and 209g/km CO2 it’s even relatively efficient given the performance on offer, so it delivers on many fronts, even if it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the BMW M340i Touring, which offers a more powerful and more characterful six-cylinder engine and a higher-quality cabin for £185 less.

Model: Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake
Price: £52,585
Engine:  2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:  316bhp/420Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:  4.9 seconds
Top speed:  155mph
Economy/CO2:  31.0mpg/209g/km
On sale: Now

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

Most Popular

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates
Renault 5 EV concept at 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates

Renault’s reborn Renault 5 will start from €25,000 in Europe, suggesting a circa-£30k price in the UK. It's due on sale in the summer of 2024. Here's …
1 Dec 2023
New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash
BMW Neue Klasse SUV exclusive image - front

New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash

BMW’s first Neue Klasse electric SUV could carry the iX3 nameplate and our exclusive images preview how it might look
30 Nov 2023
‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’
Opinion - Fiat Scudo

‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’

With some huge savings to be had, Mike Rutherford thinks a van could be the perfect vehicle
3 Dec 2023