Moving up the ladder

PREMIUM: The VW Arteon hopes to crack the elusive luxury market. PREMIUM: The VW Arteon hopes to crack the elusive luxury market. © Shutterstock

NO longer content with dominating the motoring mass market, Volkswagen has set its eyes on classier rivals, who sell less cars but have cornered luxury buyers.

The brand's latest coupe, the Arteon, is set to hit European showrooms in autumn 2017 with prices beginning at a hefty €45-50,000.

That puts the Arteon on a direct collision course with BMW, Audi and Mercedes, who have traditionally had little to fear from the scandal-hit German giant.

It is a marked change in direction for the 'people's car' as Volkswagen translates to. News last week that the VW Golf supplanted the Ford Fiesta as the UK's best-selling car seemed to confirm that Volksawagen had secured its enormously profitable position among the motoring gods.

The challenge for Volkswagen is convincing the public to accept the Arteon as a truly premium car, comparable to the Mercedes C-Class coupe and other established vehicles. Many might be inclined to consider the Arteon merely a fancy upgrade on a budget-friendly model. Buyers being asked to fork out more than €50,000 may play it safe with other German cars.

Sensing this, the Arteon comes complete with a range of new and different features to distinguish it from the competition. It has full safety marks, limited self-driving technology, and a crash system which anticipates impact and secures seats and seatbelts in the safest positions accordingly.

There is constant monitoring of steering and braking, with the system able to safely take over driving, flick on the indicators and take the car to the side of the road if it detects the driver is unresponsive.

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