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Volkswagen goes tech-heavy on Touareg Mk3. Image by Volkswagen.

Volkswagen goes tech-heavy on Touareg Mk3
Third-gen Volkswagen Touareg SUV to get huge technical arsenal and powerful V6 engines.
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Newer articles featuring 2018 Volkswagen Touareg

2018-11-01: Driven: Volkswagen Touareg R-Line
2018-05-18: First drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI V6

What's all this about?

Well, we've already heard about the Volkswagen Touareg's striking new looks and simply gobsmacking interior, but now let's look at the oilier bits and pieces of the third-generation luxury SUV, plus some of its electronic trickery.

OK, where are we starting?

Under the bonnet. Volkswagen will kick off the Touareg Mk3 line-up with a pair of 3.0-litre V6 TDI units, one developing 231hp and the other 286hp. This is very much like the tactic Audi used when launching the Q7 Mk2 in 2015, when it appeared with 218- and 272hp V6 3.0 TDI motors. Now, you'll hear a lot more about Audi in this piece on the Touareg, as the two companies are sharing a lot of technology here.

Are they?

Oh yes. Remember, the Touareg, Q7 and Porsche Cayenne were all originally developed together in the early 2000s and that link continues today. So, after the two initial V6 diesels (Audi now uses the 286hp unit in a variety of cars, including the A7 Sportback and A8, we then get our first petrol Touareg in this market for aeons, as the 3.0-litre TFSI V6 from an Audi SQ5 gets ported over into the Volkswagen. At this point, a pattern starts to develop here, which isn't the best news for VW fans...

Oh? What pattern is that?

The one that has the Volkswagen Touareg's engines pegged a few horsepower down on their equivalent Audi numbers. This is presumably to give some sort of prestige air to the brand with four rings, given the Touareg's magnificent appearance and interior, but it smacks of hierarchical corporate alignment, rather than letting the Volkswagen be the best it can possibly be. Still, the 3.0 TFSI delivers 340hp in the Touareg (it's rated at 354hp in the SQ5) and should dole out roughly the same 500Nm as the Audi too, so it will be plenty quick. And then there's a 4.0-litre V8 TDI option, which is the same basic engine as in the SQ7 and Bentley Bentayga Diesel, but again, the VW will have this motor slightly downgraded to 421hp, instead of the 435hp it makes in the Audi and Benters. This engine is not confirmed for this part of the world yet, mind, and nor is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain of 367hp that is destined for China - Volkswagen simply saying that a launch date for the Touareg PHEV 'has not yet been set.' And yes, the plug-in model would use the same drivetrain as a... yep, you guessed it - Audi Q7 e-tron. Volkswagen does score some points on torque, though.


Yes. Well... we hope so. While specific torque figures for each engine are not yet outlined, all models of Touareg will come with 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed, 'shift-by-wire' automatic transmission, which, Volkswagen says, can 'transfer drive torque of up to 1,000Nm' to all four wheels. This figure is pertinent because the SQ7 makes 900Nm, so maybe Volkswagen is going to surprise us and offer more torque than the Audi - and that might mean a return of an R-badged Touareg, the idea having been abandoned since the Mk1 R50 astonished everyone with its uprated 5.0-litre V10 TDI in 2008.

Is the Touareg still a good towing machine?

Indeed it is, as the Volkswagen can haul 3.5 tonnes of braked trailer up an eight per cent gradient and the adoption of electromechanical steering, instead of a hydraulically assisted set-up, means the Touareg can now use Trailer Assist to make horsebox-reversing manoeuvres easier.

OK, what else does the Volkswagen have up its sleeve?

Like the SQ7 and Bentayga already mentioned, the Touareg Mk3 will have the option of active anti-roll bars powered by a 48-volt supply, which uses electromechanical bars with a central control unit to keep the Volkswagen as level as possible during even the fastest cornering speeds. Full air suspension will be an option - featuring multiple different ride heights, from 50mm below standard for easy loading to 70mm above standard for the toughest off-roading - but as standard, all variants get a MacPherson strut set-up at the front with a five-link rear axle, with much use of aluminium in its make-up to keep the weight down.

Any reason I should opt for air springs?

You'll want the air suspension if you're actually planning to venture off the tarmac in the Touareg, as not only does it raise the ride height, but it also increases the front/rear departure angles (from 25 to 31 degrees), the breakover angle (from 18.5 to 25 degrees) and the maximum wading depth (from 500- to 580mm) of the big SUV. On the chassis tech, the final thing to note is the optional rear-wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at speeds of less than 31mph - reducing the turning circle by a metre to 11.19m in total - and then switches to moving the rears in the same direction as the fronts above 31mph, to improve high-speed lane-changing stability.

Anything else you can add at this stage?

Just the lighting tech - LED taillights and optional LED Matrix 75-diode headlights are offered, this latter feature providing 12 different functions according to the amount of ambient light in the Touareg's surroundings, its road speed and the angle of the steering. If that's not enough illumination when all around is dark, then Night Vision can highlight pedestrians and wildlife with thermal imaging technology, displaying them clearly in colour on the Volkswagen's wondrous interior screens.

Read the full Volkswagen Touareg story here

Matt Robinson - 23 Mar 2018

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