A century ago, the well-heeled English gentleman had a problem. When he tried to go out for a spot of partridge popping in his sports coupe, he discovered his rifle didn’t fit in the boot.
“Blast,” he said.
“If only the rear end were more accommodating.”
These interactions may only be based on historical events, but situations like this led to the birth of the ‘shooting brake’.
Carmakers and coach builders took something pioneered by horse-drawn wagons to create what were essentially two-door wagons, the idea being you could enjoy sporty looks and handling without sacrificing room for your hobbies.
The term has been resurrected several times since, most recently by Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. But now Volkswagen has joined in too, with the Arteon Shooting Brake.
The critics are circling it.
You see, if you take the very long walk along all 4.8 metres of it, you’ll find it has four – equally lengthy – doors. Technically, this makes it what we plebians commonly call a ‘station wagon’.
At this point, VW will point out that a shooting brake is really only defined by how many pillars break up the window line, and it’s true – the Arteon has three, the same number you’d expect to find on something with two doors.
Either way, there’s a very simple way to solve this: to see if you could fit a gun in the boot.
Dan Power teaches cabinet-making at CIT during the day, but he’s out on the range at the Majura Park Gun Club every other time, shooting clay targets out of the sky with his circa-$30K shotgun. In mid-March, he became the first Canberran to win a national competition for it.
Held in Wagga Wagga this year by the Australian Clay Target Association, the aim of the week-long National Trap Championships is to be the last shooter standing.
“I was fortunate enough to win the first event of the championships, shooting a score of 528/528 consecutive targets without a miss,” Dan says.
“We started with a field of 426 shooters, and … I was the last one left without a miss.”
He clearly knows what to do with a gun, so what does he think of the Arteon Shooting Brake?
“A lot of our club members buy cars with plenty of storage, such as utes or SUVs,” he says.
“By law, the guns have to be kept separate from the ammunition until we’re actually at the shooting range, which means we keep the gun in its case and the shells in something like a small plastic toolbox. There’s plenty of room in this boot for that.”
The 565 litres of boot space isn’t all.
“A lot of our events are held in regional NSW, so I imagine a touring car like this would be really nice to drive on the long highways. Although there are also some rough dirt roads it might not do so well on.”
Dan has nailed it. Don’t be fooled by the absolutely gorgeous looks straight from the sixth day of creation (and quite possibly the sharpest 20-inch wheels ever fitted to a car) – the Arteon is not an out-and-out sports car.
My test example from Gerald Slaven Volkswagen in Belconnen is the top-shelf R-Line model with the 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and in Sport mode, you do get a throaty roar reminiscent of VW’s old VR6 engines. But get up and go isn’t exactly breath-taking – mash your foot into the carpet, and you’re only politely shoved back into the seat a short delay later.
The Arteon feels most at home on the likes of the Majura Parkway, cruising along at 100 km/h. It favours extravagance first, then performance. Certainly, the interior quality and tech are the best this side of a $100K-plus Audi, for a driveaway price around the $85K mark.
I continued thinking all this until a certain Region sub-editor – more blessed with years and … um, the effects of middle age than me – pointed something out.
“It’s beautiful, but who would buy it?”
It’s true. At the age when you have this kind of money sitting around, it’s becoming obvious you’re not as young as you used to be. Yes, you want sensible things like comfort and practicality, but you probably don’t want to be contorting your spine into a paper clip to get into a car and then sit nigh on the floor. You’ll join the masses in getting an SUV, to go with your new orthotics.
But VW has squashed the perks of the world’s best-selling car shape into the mould of yesteryear’s family car – the wagon – and then gone out of its way to add so much ‘cool’ that no one over the age of 40 can buy one but not quite enough thrills to satisfy someone under 40.
To buy this, then, is a statement. You’re not like everyone else. You’re the sort of guy who probably has a gun in the boot. And that sure is one heck of an accolade.
2023 Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake 206TSI R-Line
- $82,480 driveaway, as tested
- 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 206 kW / 400Nm
- 7-speed dual-clutch DSG, all-wheel drive (AWD)
- 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds
- 7.7 litres per 100 km combined fuel usage
- 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
This car was provided for testing by Gerald Slaven Volkswagen in Belconnen. Region has no commercial arrangement with Gerald Slaven Volkswagen.