Middle management: Volkswagen Arteon
WHAT IS IT?
Step aside Passat, for here is a sedan that truly deserves to be at Volkswagen’s pinnacle. A four-door fastback with monumental interior space, premium finishes and the looks to take you places, the Arteon is the perfect package for the conservative businessman who wants a car that looks daring but is actually a sensible buy.
The Arteon is the best of both worlds (or even three worlds): it’s hedonistically attractive, more practical than you can comprehend without experiencing it for yourself, and made by one of the best-loved vehicle manufacturers in South Africa, and the world. And to be honest, it’s priced pretty competitively compared to its peers. It is the perfect car to send a strong message to your colleagues: you’ve got taste, but you don’t need your ego stroked by driving a car by one of the ‘premium’ manufacturers. (Little do they know that the Arteon is every bit as good as anything else from Germany.)
The Arteon is art in motion – it is a spectacular sedan that turns heads, embracing the now-common concept of “a sedan with the lines of a coupé”, and doing it very well indeed. Far more aggressive and sporty than we’re used to from VW, the Arteon is particularly impressive from the front, while the low and tapering roofline masks the dimensions very successfully.
If you ever want to bring to the boardroom table an example of how a company can evolve, show pictures of the interiors of a 1950s VW Beetle and the VW Arteon – the ‘people’s car’ has come a long, long way. We cannot stress how spacious it is for four adults, and even five. In fact, VW put such stress on rear passenger space that it seems as though the rear seats might have better leg, head and elbow room than up front! Actually, VW apparently designed the rear space specifically for businesspeople (mainly in China) who are driven to work and use the extra space to get some work done en route. There are two trim levels, Elegance and R-Line, and both are well equipped for comfort and convenience. The boot is huge, and because of the fastback design has a vast opening, which means that if you fold the seats flat you could probably fit your desk in the back.
No matter if it’s petrol or diesel you’re after, you’re catered for by a 2-litre engine. The turbodiesel 2.0 TDI is economical (5.6L/100km) and powerful (130kW and 350Nm), with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. But the engine that best matches the Arteon’s road presence is the turbocharged petrol 2.0 TSI, which produces 206kW of power and 350Nm of torque, using a claimed 7.3L/100km. It has a 7-speed automatic gearbox and comes standard with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. On the road it’s a great all-rounder, but it really stands out as a long-distance cruiser, lolloping along on its sumptuous suspension.
This is the car that has elevated VW to new heights, that has given it a real chance of competing with BMW, Audi and Mercedes in the sedan and GT market. Don’t write it off for its lack of status.
GO GET IT
Prices are easy to remember: R600 000, R650 000 and R700 000, for the 2.0 TDI Elegance, 2.0 TDI R-Line and 2.0 TSI R-Line 4Motion respectively. All Arteons come with a comprehensive 3-year/120 000km warranty as well as a 5-year/90 000km maintenance plan. Visit www.vw.co.za for more information.
Senior management: Alfa Romeo Giulia
WHAT IS IT?
Sensual and aggressive, the Giulia is the car to take Alfa onward and upward, thanks to an investment of billions of dollars. With that sort of R&D budget you’d expect it to be good, and it is. Essentially it’s a new rival to the old firm of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, and the first genuine one from Alfa in years.
It’s not one of the Teutonic trio, and there are quite a few people out there for whom that is very attractive. To them the office car park is too full of cookie-cutter premium cars that say little about the driver, other than that they can afford to drive one. The Alfa, be it the standard Giulia or the outrageous Giulia Quadrifoglio (designed to beat the BMW M3), fulfils this brief by being Italian and gorgeous, and an uncommon sight on our roads.
Very few companies style a car as well as the bunch from Turin, but even for an Alfa this one has its curves in all the right places. It all starts with the trademark triangular grille, which flows into accent lines on the bonnet, merging with the A-pillars before continuing down the flanks. The lights, both front and rear, reinforce the stylish nature of the vehicle, while all-wheel options (from 16-inch to 19-inch) add to the vehicle’s overall elegance.
As you’d expect of a driver’s car, the Giulia focuses its attention on making the driver feel actively involved – this is no American armchair on wheels. The driver’s seat is low and sets you up nicely in front of well-positioned pedals and a lovely steering wheel that incorporates the engine start button, while the dials are all canted slightly towards you. Standard features include dual-zone climate control, the Alfa DNA system and 6.5" Connect infotainment system.
One thing that is important to mention is that the Giulia achieved an overall Euro NCAP rating of 5 stars, and the highest-ever score (98%) for adult occupant protection. So you can drive one and claim you’re exercising due responsibility to your shareholders…
During development Alfa executives promised a chassis that would rival anything in the class, and they have delivered on that promise. The Giulia is engaging and fun to drive, far more so than just about every rival, and the engines don’t let it down either. Standard issue is a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 147kW and 330Nm, accompanied by an entertaining soundtrack. Shell out for the Quadrifoglio and you get something very special – a 2.9-litre V6 engine with two turbos, capable of producing a whopping 375kW and 600Nm, for a 0-100km/h time of just 3.9 seconds. All models make use of an 8-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddles.
If it’s important for you to have a sense of personal identity in a corporate environment, or perhaps if you’re in the creative field, give this cracking vehicle some consideration. It’s the kind of car that excites you before you even set foot in it, and considering how many hours most of us spend commuting, you might as well be excited about that part of your day. The incredible safety rating can’t be ignored either.
GO GET IT
On a style-for-money basis the Giulia is very hard to beat. Prices start at R616 900 and go all the way up to R1 426 000 for the Giulia Quadrifoglio. Giulias come standard with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 6-year or 100 000km maintenance plan. Visit www.alfaromeo.co.za for more information.