As with the Passat GTE, you can jump in the Arteon eHybrid and drive off without giving it much thought at all. Provided the battery has enough charge, it always starts and moves off silently, motivated by electrons alone.
To get the best out of it, though, it pays to get familiar with the driving modes, of which there are plenty. Along with the Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport found in all Arteons fitted with adaptive dampers, there are an extra three for the eHybrid: E-mode for electric-only running, Hybrid for a combination of engine and motor and GTE for maximum performance.
Step-off and urban acceleration are reasonably strong in E-mode. And there’s next to no mechanical drag, other than when gentle regenerative braking kicks in as you go downhill.
But it doesn’t take much to trigger Hybrid mode. At a sharp stab of the throttle or a prod of the touchscreen, the engine fires up smoothly. The combining of the two power sources is quite impressive, although the process isn’t exactly seamless.
So configured, torque increases from 243lb ft to 295lb ft, making the car significantly livelier. The combined efforts of the engine and motor endow it with relaxed part-throttle cruising qualities and brisk acceleration when you push hard. And the engine is well isolated, adding to the feeling of heightened refinement delivered by the motor.
GTE mode doesn’t increase power or torque or make the Arteon feel any quicker than it does in Hybrid mode, but it does prevent the engine from switching off and the gearbox from decoupling, giving it strong response, if not a more determined feel.
Although it’s much heavier than regular Arteon models, at 1734kg, the eHybrid is entertaining to drive. Its variable-ratio steering is light but extremely accurate and gives good response when you turn it off-centre, making it easy to manoeuvre in town. It must be said that it doesn’t give a great deal of feel or feedback, though.
The steering stays light on faster country roads but becomes keener, while tautening the dampers ensures the body is well controlled, with lean building progressively in cornering.
This is quite a surefooted car, with grippy, dependable handling and good traction when hustled along using both petrol and electric power.
The optional 19in alloys and low-profile tyres do the ride no favours, making it fidgety at lower speeds and letting bumps make themselves felt. It settles down significantly at speed, however, becoming much comfier.
Inside, the updated Arteon gets a new leather wheel with capacitive controls, plusher materials, digital air-con controls and Volkswagen’s latest digital dials and infotainment.It’s at fine driving environment with excellent ergonomics and fittingly high levels of perceived quality.
One key advantage the estate holds over the fastback is its flatter, longer roofline, which adds 11mm of head room up front and 48mm in the rear. Another is a bigger boot, but the extra 110 litres are lost to the battery in the eHybrid. At least you can still get 1497 litres by folding the rear bench.