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Tuesday 17th April 2012


DRIVEN: ARTEGA GT AT THE 'RING

Famous German racetrack, meet little-known German sports car...


Chris Harris will be talking about driving some serious hardware around the ’ring later this week but as an appetiser we present something else we were punting about the Nordschleife on the same day. Namely this – the Artega GT.

Last time the track was shut - not today!
Last time the track was shut - not today!
We had a first taste of the Artega GT a few months back and mightily impressed we were with this German Lotus alternative. We drove it on the road, but at the time the gates to the Nordschleife were firmly shut. But the arrival of the Artega on the fleet of Rent4Ring means we can now find out what it’s like on the ’ring itself, as indeed can anyone willing to stump up the rental fee.

As has previously been stated, the Artega is an absolute stunner in the flesh. Henrik Fisker may have gone off to have hybrid adventures, but the man can sure pen a handsome-looking car, the GT tight, compact and muscular-looking with the wheels forced out right into the corners and some really effective detailing.

Neat visual representation of Artega's ambitions
Neat visual representation of Artega's ambitions
What's German for 'Lotus'?
The obvious comparison for the Artega is the Lotus Evora, though in truth the German car is quite a bit pricier and represents a brave but fascinating alternative to a top-spec Cayman or maybe even a base Carrera. Think also perhaps the Ginetta G60, the cool Germanic character of the Artega as rooted in its upbringing as the raw, no-frills and no-ruddy-nonsense mentality of the Ginetta. Very different cars, as much as they may share some on-paper similarities.

The slim-rimmed, Alcantara-covered wheel feels great in your hands and gives the Artega a real sense of delicacy from the get-go. The steering is light and direct and the centred weight and lack of mass means it feels eager to change direction. Indeed, that linearity and weighting all feels very VW, which shouldn’t come as too big a surprise given that much of the mechanical gubbins come from Wolfsburg. And though there’s perhaps not the lovely textured feedback of an Evora or the perfectly judged weighting of a Cayman, it’s good enough.

Paddleshift DSG the only gearbox option
Paddleshift DSG the only gearbox option
The most exciting Passat ever
Those Passat R36 underpinnings mean DSG only, which is a shame at some levels but makes driving the Artega very easy. Which is a good thing when you’ve got the Nordschleife unravelling in front of you and a 15,000 euros insurance excess tapping you on the shoulder and clearing its throat to remind you not to push too hard.

It also demonstrates quite how impressive the DSG gearbox really is. Perhaps undervalued given its prevalence in all manner of VW (and related) products in more focused machinery like our PH Fleet Golf GTI Edition 35 it’s proven itself the equal of any PDK or M DCT equivalent. Shifts punch through fast and positively, giving you great confidence. Put simply, there are no nasty surprises and plenty of delight in watching the Nordschleife unfold through the Artega’s windscreen.

Fast, pointy, aggressive ... but not scary
Fast, pointy, aggressive ... but not scary
This Artega was only delivered to Rent4Ring the evening before we get to drive it and has had little more than a quick shakedown. The suspension is fully adjustable too but even out of the box that sense of lightness and stiffness is apparent. It pivots around its centre – ie, you – and, though pointy, it’s a very friendly car to drive.

Inevitable German quality comparisons...
And it feels incredibly tight and well-finished. Indeed, it doesn’t feel like something from a small, specialist manufacturer. It feels, well, like a pukka mass-produced vehicle. Very impressive indeed.

Exotic looks thing accomplished
Exotic looks thing accomplished
After all, if you’re going to invest this kind of money you want something that’ll offer a memorable experience – and the Artega is just that. It looks and feels properly exotic and the gurgling, howling V6 sounds way more exotic than its Passat roots would ever suggest. Sure, there are faster, pointier and racier cars around but the Artega is one of those cars that’ll reward the confident without scaring the more nervy.

So that’s two goes with the Artega, one on the street and one on the track. And going by both it’s a hugely impressive car. Pricey, yes, but if the Passat running gear doesn’t sound exotic enough those looks and the sense of quality more than make up for it.


ARTEGA GT
Engine:
3,597cc V6
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto (DSG), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@2,400rpm
0-62mph:  4.8 sec
Top speed: 167mph
Weight: 1,285kg (DIN)
MPG: 28.9mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 223g/km
Price: 88,500 euros (German market price, inclusive of local VAT)


Track photography by Frozenspeed





   
Author: Dan Trent