Demand for large, luxurious saloons might be falling, but the contenders left fighting for sales are an increasingly classy bunch.

And few are as elegant as Volkswagen’s stylish flagship, the Arteon.

Combining sleek fastback styling and advanced technology, the five-door, five-seater sits above the Passat in the Volkswagen range and blends performance with a comfortable relaxed ride.

Make no mistake this is a seriously spacious car, with loads of legroom and a cavernous boot, which has the ability to quietly whisk away five people and their luggage in some considerable luxury.

A choice of potent petrol and diesel engines is on offer, with power on the R-Line specification model driven here coming from a 2.0-litre turbodiesel which, while falling out of fashion, combines effortless 190 horsepower cruising and the realistic prospect of easily topping 50mpg in day-to-day driving.

Mated to a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox, the Arteon emerges as a smooth, sophisticated long distance grand tourer.

Competing against the likes of the Audi A5 Sportback, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Jaguar XE, the leather-trimmed Arteon comes in two specifications – luxurious Elegance or the more sportily styled R-Line.

Standard equipment, as you would expect on a flagship model, is high with an eight-inch colour touchscreen, eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth audio and telephone connectivity and Volkswagen Media Control, which allows remote control of the infotainment system through a compatible smartphone or tablet.

Other standard-fit equipment includes a superb 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, LED self-levelling headlights; LED rear light clusters and electronic air conditioning allowing the driver, front seat passenger and rear passengers to choose their individual settings.

The digital display allows the driver to choose between five different information profiles – classic, consumption & range, efficiency, performance & driver assistance, or navigation. For example when the navigation setting is chosen the speedometer and rev counter displays are relocated to the sides to make more room for the navigation map in the middle.

Information on driving, navigation and assistance functions can also be integrated into the speedometer and rev counter graphics.

Standard driver assistance systems range from adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking, front assist, speed assist, traffic jam assist, lane assist and a driver fatigue warning system.

The cruise control uses GPS-based road data to ‘see’ speed limits, and adjust the car’s speed as appropriate and road recognition, using the front camera and route information from the navigation data, predictively adjusts the vehicle’s speed before bends, roundabouts and junctions.

Optional equipment is equally high-end and ranges from a head-up display and panoramic roof, to front massaging seats, heated steering wheel and a choice of alloy wheels up to 20 inches.

Among the options on the car driven here was a £765 pack with front-, rear- and side-view cameras to give a 360-degree exterior view of the car. A £645 sensor-controlled steering aid makes parallel or bay parking a completely automatic and stress-free affair.

For another £820, you can have dynamic chassis control which allows individual tuning of shock absorbers and other driving characteristics switching between eco, normal, comfort and sport settings at the touch of button.

Auto facts

Model: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line 2.0 TDI SCR 190PS

Price: £45,110 as tested

Insurance group: 25E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 49.6mpg

Top speed: 148mph

Length: 486.2cm/189.5in

Width: 212.7cm/83.5in

Luggage capacity: 19.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 14.5 gallons/66 litres

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles