Price & equipment
Holden packs a lot into the flagship of the Commodore range with standard equipment lists aligning closely for more than $10,000 less than that of the Volkswagen. However, the superior build quality and styling of the Arteon is harder to quantify but desirable. The Holden adds in a few extra fruity bits including driver’s seat massage function and heated seats front and rear.
Upwards of $66K might appear a bit steep for a Volkswagen, but that asking price is easier to digest when you examine the standard equipment list. Virtually everything is standard fare including adaptive LED headlights, a digital instrument cluster and head-up display, and you’ll only be asked extra for if you want a sunroof, metallic paint and Sound & Style pack.
Interior & connectivity
The Holden’s interior feel and finish can’t compete with VW’s quality, and its partial leather doesn’t feel as premium. Navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio are standard in both and wireless device charging is a bonus in the Holden. There’s also a little more rear occupant space in the Holden, but at the cost of a 490-litre boot with manual opening.
VW may not traditionally compete with the other three big German brands, but the Arteon’s interior certainly does. It is sharp but ergonomic and understated. A slick 9.2-inch screen is complemented by a fully digital instrument cluster, with Nappa leather trim throughout the cabin. Rear-seat room is cosy but acceptable, and a 650-litre boot is accessible by an electric hatch.
Ride & handling
The Commodore feels the heavier of the two because it is. While the Arteon parries and dodges imperfections in the the road, the Holden prefers to bludgeon them into submission. Despite the weight, the VXR steering map and suspension is still lively but lacks sophistication. However, occupants would likely appreciate its more docile nature on longer highway cruises.
A snub-nosed bonnet and squat ride immediately makes the Arteon feel involving, enhanced by light but obedient steering. The all-wheel drive traction is beneficial and deals torque to each axle for confident road manners. The adjustable adaptive dampers perhaps have too many settings but result in a chassis that can be fettled for almost any driving taste.
Performance & economy
With a larger capacity to feed, the VXR’s more powerful drivetrain will hit your hip pocket harder at the bowser, asking for 9.3 litres of fuel per 100km. Unlike the Volkswagen, the Commodore accelerates urgently from the line, but throttle response is too sensitive for smooth driving at lower speeds, and the initial grunt drops off higher in the rev range. A more vocal exhaust note is the only bonus.
With running gear lifted from the effervescent Golf R, the Arteon has performance to match its premium appearance. Initial lag from the four-cylinder’s turbo and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is followed by zesty acceleration that feels stronger as the redline approaches. Despite the performance, it still returns 7.5L/100km. A less muted exhaust note would complete the package.
Warranty & servicing
With the transition from the locally built VF to the imported ZB model, the Commodore service intervals have dipped from 15,000km to 12,000km. When it comes to warranty, all Holden passenger vehicles trump the Volkswagen with an unlimited kilometre five-year deal, and Holdens younger than five years are treated to fixed costs for the first seven scheduled services.
A three-year unlimited kilometre warranty has recently been upgraded to five years and is now a permanent fixture as of late last year. Volkswagen’s service plan allows the first three or five scheduled services to be purchased in advance, effectively capping the price of scheduled maintenance. The Arteon requires a service every 15,000km.
Despite being more expensive, the Arteon's fit and finish and high level of standard equipment ensure it takes the trophy in this head to head.