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Executive Style: Volkswagen Arteon vs Mercedes CLA-Class

For many company car drivers and self-made entrepreneurial business owners, image and high quality are understandably important when choosing a car. Both popular choices in this corner of the market; how does the latest Audi A5 Sportback stack up against Volkswagen’s magnetising new Arteon?

Subtle menace vs curvaceous sportiness

Volkswagen’s new Arteon with its frameless windows is simply stunning to behold in the metal. Technically a 5-door, 5-seat saloon, it looks decidedly coupé-like with lines that flow evocatively down to the sculpted rear with commanding-looking light clusters and a wide, planted stance. The front is probably the Arteon’s smartest angle however, with beautiful daytime lights that blend daringly into the split-level grille. In Elegance and R-Line trims alike, the Arteon garners attention wherever it goes thanks to its hunkered, low-slung and sporty design that looks every bit as expensive as many rivals from the prestige segment above.

The latest Audi A5 Sportback, despite wearing the prestige marque’s iconic and prominent framed grille, is more understated than the Arteon even with added S line styling enhancements. The creases added to the Audi’s clamshell bonnet look discretely smart and the car’s reasonably curvy side profile has a touch of agility about it, but the rear is once again less distinctive and breath-taking than the VW Arteon’s.
Conclusion: the Arteon has the more stunning overall design

Lovable or luxurious

Indulgent Nappa leather seats are standard across the Arteon range and are two-tone in white and black in R-Line variants. Volkswagen’s impressive 12.3-inch Active Info Display digital instrumentation plus Discover Navigation are also an intrinsic part of the Arteon experience, although upgrading to the Pro system with its 9.2-inch screen is recommended. Perceived build quality is very high as per VW’s other models and the analogue clock, chrome and polished black inserts, various leather-covered controls plus nicely-damped switchgear give the Arteon a professional if not particularly luxurious feel. It will accommodate five adults comfortably although the central seat and sloping roofline slightly impede spaciousness. Storage cubbies are plentiful and the car’s 563-litre boot is seriously impressive.

Audi’s A5 Sportback is 13cm shorter and 3cm narrower than the VW Arteon so doesn’t feel quite as spacious inside, especially for rear passengers. In practice, its 480-litre boot doesn’t seem all that less practical, though, and although it’s fitted with more limited equipment as standard, the A5’s interior feels more luxurious and special than the Arteon’s. The Audi’s MMI infotainment screen is operated using a touchpad and rotary controller, making it more convenient than the Arteon’s purely touchscreen system. While Virtual Cockpit, which is the equivalent of VW’s Active Info Display, is optional for the A5 compared to standard in the Arteon, the Audi’s plastics and other materials feel plusher and more premium, with even softer leathers available and, of course, those four rings in pride of place on the steering wheel.
 
Conclusion: although more compact, the Audi A5 Sportback’s interior is more luxurious

Exceptional engines at the heart

In typical Volkswagen style, the Arteon is offered with a wide range of engines. Drivers seeking executive style with petrol power will be impressed by the entry-level 1.5 TSI with 150PS and economy of up to 54.3mpg.
For bigger petrol thrills, VW also offer the 2.0 TSI. It produces either 190PS or a potent 280PS, the latter complemented by the formidable 4MOTION all-wheel drive system for added grip during spirited driving. 
Volkswagen’s renowned 2.0 TDI diesel engine is offered in 150PS (65.7mpg), 190PS with and without 4MOTION and in astonishing 240PS BiTDI guise, with 500Nm torque fed smoothly through the 7-speed DSG transmission.

Despite the Audi A5 Sportback coming from the same automotive group, slightly different engines are offered. 
The petrol range starts with the 1.4 TFSI, tied to a 7-speed S tronic transmission and producing 150PS to reach 62mph in 8.7 seconds. 
The other petrol unit available for the non-S/RS Sportback variant of the latest A5 is the 2.0 TFSI; that peaks at 190PS and dispatches the 62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds in both S tronic and manual gearbox forms. 
It’s also available with quattro four-wheel drive with 252PS for maximum power and grip. 
The A5 Sportback’s petrol CO2 emissions span from 106 to 148g/km, while fuel efficiency figures range from 43.5 to 68.9mpg. 
Two diesel engines can be chosen for the A5 Sportback in general terms. First up is the 2.0 TDI in 150 and 190PS states of tune including ultra, the 2.0 TDI quattro feeling brisk with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds, while the ultra boasts remarkable efficiency of 68.9mpg at the pump. 
The second A5 Sportback diesel engine is the powerful 3.0 TDI in 218 or 286PS forms, the latter incorporating an 8-speed tiptronic transmission and serving up a potent 620Nm torque along with a 5.3 seconds 0-62mph time. 
 
In terms of driving experience, The Audi is quieter, slightly more comfortable on standard suspension and more economical overall, whereas the VW accelerates faster.

Conclusion: Arteon 2.0 TSI 190PS blends performance and economy nicely

In numbers…

 

Volkswagen Arteon

Audi A5 Sportback

Min

Max

Min

Max

Power (HP)

150

280

150

286

Fuel (comb MPG)

38.7

65.7

43.5

68.9

Emissions (CO2, g/km)

112

164

106

148

Top Speed (mph)

138

155

130

155

0 – 60mph in…. (seconds)

5.6

9.4

5.3

9.0

Price

£31,100

£31,885

£31,945

£44,915


Although ultimately backed by the same parent company, the Volkswagen Arteon and Audi A5 Sportback present quite different choices in the executive car market. The larger VW may be more linear in style but has tremendous road presence thanks to its bold design, while the more compact Audi appears smart and elegant but is slightly less striking in appearance. The Arteon’s interior is well-constructed but doesn’t feel as luxurious as the A5 does. Both offer plenty of engines to choose from and make excellent executive choices oozing with style, so why not test-drive each at Inchcape Audi and Inchcape Volkswagen?