Bigger some times can be beautiful.
Back in the mid-noughties, my brother in law ran a Mk1 Touareg 3.0 litre petrol, that burned fuel, which at the time didn’t seem to upset too many. This first Volkswagen SUV proved pretty popular as an alternative to the very expensive Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne & BMW X5’s of the time. A Mk2 model arrived in 2010 & this improved the Touareg across the board. The latest all-new model was launched in 2017 & with emissions, fuel economy & powertrains now a major consideration when purchasing a company car, the new range will include a plug-in hybrid for the first time.
The new Touareg has been launched with a choice of SE, SE L & R-Line trims, as well as additional ‘Tech’ packs for each version, with two diesel engines, both V6, offering 228bhp or 282bhp, with a V6 petrol, V8 diesel & a plug-in hybrid following on behind. All cars come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox & 4Motion AWD.
Built on a platform shared with the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga & Lamborghini Urus, the Touareg is most definitely the most sensibly priced of these. Its’ a really comfortable car to be a passenger in & thanks to the sterling V6 diesel, pretty quick as well. It also looks good, that is to say similar to the latest Q7 & thankfully nothing like the incredibly ugly Bentley, which is a real case of the ” Emperors new Clothes.”
Step inside the Touareg & you are greeted with high quality on every surface. Finished in black & subtle chrome, with leather & metal here & there, it is of the highest quality. The real ace-in-the-hole though, is the car’s intuitive layout & it’s on-trend infotainment system which features Volkswagens ‘Innovision Cockpit’, which comprises a set of 12.3″ digital dials, as well as a 15″ central infotainment screen. This system really is quite something, being great to look at, easy to use & also very clever. It features an onscreen set up, whereby you can select a tile which contains the function you want to use. Using the steering wheel controls, you can toggle through to select the function required. This is then displayed crystal clear. As a bonus. the system works alongside both Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
The digital dials in front of the driver are also excellent, allowing the driver to choose to have the SatNav map up or the speedo & rev counter dials. Either way, the driver has complete control at the flick of a switch.
Customers who buy a large SUV don’t just want tech, they want space & the Touareg has this in spades. Forsaking a seven-seat version, Volkswagen have instead concentrated their efforts on producing a large, comfortable, practical 5-seat car. The latest model is 77mm longer & 44 mm wider than it’s predecessor, as well as 7mm lower. Thanks to clever design, there’s no loss of headroom in the rear. Both front seat passengers have first class airline space up front & in the back you will get three six-foot adults in comfortably.
Boot space is a more than generous 810 litres & with the rear seats folded flat this increases to a whopping 1800 litres. For those who want to tow, the range also features Trailer Assist. There’s also 4Motion permanent 4WD with a Torsen gearbox as standard, which features a self-locking central differential with asymmetrical-dynamic drive, off-road driving programme activated by rotary switch & manual ASR deactivation, front and rear independent suspension on double wishbones with acoustically insulated subframe, as well as front and rear anti-roll bar. The Touareg has the lot.
I had the opportunity to drive the Touareg on country roads, B roads & along the M40 & it didn’t skip beat. The V6 286 PS diesel engine is a corker. The eght-speed auto tiptronic gearbox is a pleasure to use, with even the gear knob aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Acceleration is rapid, 0-62 mph in just 6.2 seconds & this version will go onto reach a top speed of 146 mph. Fast it may be but it’s also very quiet. The suspension cossets you over any bumps in the road & the aerodynamic shape & glass insulation keep the outside noise at bay.
Safety is to the fore, with the new range offering driving dynamics & comfort systems, including technologies such as a Night Vision thermal imaging camera. Traffic Jam & Roadwork Lane Assist, with partly automated steering & lane departure warning up to 37 mph, acceleration and braking. Plus, Front Cross Traffic Assist. Other safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control & an active bonnet –which features a sensor controlled pedestrian protection system to raise the bonnet away from the engine compartment in the event of an impact.
The list of equipment is very long. Suffice to say I searched the interior for USB inputs, four. A USB charging socket in the front centre storage compartment, front seat centre armrest & two in the rear centre armrest, guaranteed therefore to keep al passengers happy. Indeed, the Discover Premium infotainment system is pretty comprehensive offering Hybrid radio, a combination of terrestrial & Internet radio, Mobile online services with eSIM, ensuring continuous online functions even without smartphone, including news, weather and Gracenote online. An SD card reader; 64 GB SSD hard drive; SMS functionality , which allow you to read, compose & send SMS messages using touchscreen display when stationary. This though, is only compatible with Android smartphones.
Those lucky enough to be in the market for a large SUV will want to know the running costs.Fuel consumption on the combined cycle for our R-Line test model is 42.8mpg, with emissions of 173g CO2/km. Every version costs more than £40,000, so the standard road tax rate of £450 per year applies to all. If you want the R-Line powered by the 3.0 litre 266 PS diesel, the range stars from £56,300 with a P11D value of £56,900 giving you a BIK of 37%. The introduction of the Touareg hybrid will lower this considerably.
Would I like one ? Yes. There’s no doubting that when you drive the Touareg,you understand why customers love their large SUV’s. Expensive they may be, but these cars have been designed like the luxury yachts of billionaires, to take passengers where they want to go in supreme comfort & safety. On both of these levels, the Touareg is a hit & although a starting price of over 40k may be too rich for some, when compared to the competition, the Touareg is a bit of a steal.
A worthy flagship to the Volkswagen range. 4/5