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First drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI V6. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI V6
There’s (finally) a new Volkswagen Touareg on the way and it has been worth the wait.

 



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Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI V6

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Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI V6
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
Combined economy: 40.9mpg
Top speed: 147mph (with air suspension) or 146mph (with passive suspension)
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Power: 286hp
Torque: 600Nm at 2,250-3,250rpm

What's this?

It sure has been a long time coming, but the new Volkswagen Touareg is here at last. Taking over the mantle as VW's flagship model, the new five-seat SUV goes some way towards being future-proofed and gets an exterior design that's modern enough without polarising opinion.

The most recognisable element of the new Touareg is the front, where a prominent, bold grille dominates the view and neatly integrates the headlights as part of the overall design. It's a look that fits in with how Volkswagen is styling its crossovers and SUVs these days, with similar treatment seen on the compact T-Roc. It looks set to also feature in the forthcoming, and even smaller, T-Cross.

Within that grille you'll find some of the new technology that's on offer in the Touareg. An optional night vision camera system is a first for Volkswagen, and there are many of the usual driver assistance systems like adaptive cruise control. Most models bar the entry-level spec are likely to get the company's new I.Q. LED matrix headlights, which we found to offer excellent levels of illumination at night, in particular on the periphery of the road. If you're a rural dweller in mostly unlit areas, this is a system that you may want to consider.

One of the new Touareg's best party tricks is that beautiful Innovision system inside. It is made up of a 12-inch instrument cluster display and a 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and the display appears to be housed behind one sprawling panel. For the ease of production and to keep costs down, it is made up of two pieces, with only a hint of a seam joining them, though from the driver's seat this is neatly obscured by the wheel.

As for the rest of the cabin, space feels to be in plentiful supply, especially if you choose a lighter colour for the decor. Comfortable and electrically adjustable front seats can be equipped with massage functions in addition to cooling and heating. The sportier R-Line spec seats are slightly different, forgoing the massage capability. Those in the rear are unlikely to feel cramped thanks to generous amounts of legroom, which can be varied thanks to a sliding rear seat bench to favour their comfort or maximise boot capacity. That space measures in at 810 litres.

How does it drive?

From the moment you sit into the beautifully finished cabin and pull the driver's door shut with that reassuring thud, you can tell that refinement is the name of the game here. Indeed, sitting for a moment and observing the broad dashboard and its highly impressive looking Innovation display is recommended. Aside from the visual pizzazz, the outward visibility is very decent, with A-pillars providing minimal disruption to your field of view.

There's a muffled, distant rumble from the 3.0-litre TDI V6. It has that powerful diesel idle we're used to hearing in a large BMW or Audi. Clearly, Volkswagen has done a thorough job in applying layers of sound insulation. This turbodiesel V6 will come in two power outputs, starting at 231hp, but it is the more potent 286hp unit that we get to experience first. Unsurprisingly, its most impressive performance arrives early in the rev range, with a peak torque output of 600Nm available at 2,250rpm. That grunt is what will continue to allow the Touareg to enjoy a healthy reputation for being an excellent towing car.

It's unlikely to be standard on any specification grades, but the optional four-wheel steering does prove useful and if you live in a congested city or even an old town with narrow streets and tight corners, you might want to consider it. At lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts, reducing the turning circle to almost that of a small hatchback car. At higher speeds, like on the motorway, the opposite happens, with the rears mimicking the steering input to the front wheels by a few degrees. The result is swifter and more accurate lane changes. Shifting to Sport mode adds some artificial weight to the otherwise decent steering, but even then, the Touareg's chassis setup has been developed more on the side of comfort than encouraging you to throw it around the twisty stuff.

Adding to the surefooted nature of the permanent all-wheel-drive Touareg is a new electronically controlled anti-roll bar system that can all but eliminate body lean in corners. A 48-volt system powers electric motors controlling the anti-roll bars that activate in the bends to limit roll and help to mask the car's weight. It works well as the system doesn't impact on the ride quality; it also slackens off when the car's Comfort mode is selected resulting in an even softer ride.

Just how well the Touareg performs in a more standard setup without the air suspension, all-wheel steering and anti-roll stabilisation remains to be seen. Sampling it with all the technology in place certainly puts it in a position near the very top of SUV performance and refinement.

Verdict

Viewed in its highest specifications, the new Touareg is undoubtedly good enough to give a real headache to its more premium relations in Audi and Porsche. It very much fits the flagship status, but sales will undoubtedly be hamstrung to a degree by the fact that it is only a five-seat SUV. That aside, Volkswagen was done a superb job in creating the new Touareg. It looks sharp, has an ultra-modern interior and handles better than many other SUVs.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 18 May 2018









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2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.

2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.2018 Volkswagen Touareg. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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