VOLKSWAGENS are a lot of things to a lot of people.
Tough, no-nonsense tools that carry out their task with sturdy reliability. More workhorse than fashion statement, the marque has never been one to be showy or flash.
In fact, not since the last Scirocco was launched a decade ago has there been a remotely sexy looking VW. Until now, that is...
Just a single glance at the VW Arteon can send a shiver down your spine - such is its grace and style. You are compelled to snatch a last glance at every time you park up. This is a ‘people's car' unlike any before.
Based on the four-door Passat, a well packaged but rather anonymous looking business express, it's lower, wider and longer. It even makes its posh brother the Audi A5 Sportback look a trifle frumpy.
So the Arteon is set to do battle with prestigious saloons and sporting family coupe from BMW, Audi and Mercedes in a way that the Passat CC, its effective predecessor, couldn't quite manage. And like the A5 Sportback and 4 Series BMW it is a five-door hatch rather than a conventional four-door saloon.
There's a full range of petrol and diesel power units from the group's wide engine bank - I drove what is expected to be the most poplular version, the 2.0TDI which has plenty of mid-range thump yet possesses a meagre thirst.
With 148bhp to call on, it's no slouch covering the 62mph dash in an acceptable 9.1sec yet everyday driving results in 45-plus mpg.
It's a good drive with a sharp turn-in during cornering and little body roll. Composure is impressive even over poor surfaces. Overall it feels much more sporty than the Passat but it remains an undemanding car.
Strong dynamics and sharp steering help make the Arteon feel smaller than its dimensions suggest.
A good match to the car's broad power band is the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. With paddle change and well spaced ratios it squeezes every drop of performance out of the diesel engine in relaxed fashion. Four wheel drive is available but the car tested was front drive.
The cabin is generously proportioned both front and back and the plastic mouldings are solid and well made with high grade switchgear. Finish is generally good but there's not a lot of stylish innovation inside - more a case of staid and sensible.
Owners won't be disappointed in the standard equipment, especially in the sporty R-Line version I borrowed. An eight inch touch screen is the main vehicle for many of the controls. It works well and easily but ends up covered in fingers prints - something not shown in the glossy sales photos.
Head up display is a Â£495 extra and the Active Info Display filling the driver's binnacle is a nice touch, although Audi did it first with their Virtual Cockpit.
Space in the rear is good for a coupe design but don't be surprised to find a lower roofline making entry marginally less easy. The boot is massive, being capable of taking 563 litres of luggage, and up to 1,557 litres when the rear seats are folded.