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First drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI 286. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI 286
This is how you do the updated Mk3 Volkswagen Touareg big-hearted V6 diesel, air suspension. Lovely.

   



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2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI 286

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Having tried the revised third-generation Volkswagen Touareg as the new
eHybrid plug-in with 381hp and been somewhat underwhelmed by it, now we test the version with the higher-output 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel unit. And the good news is that if you want the facelifted Mk3 SUV in its best possible format, this is unequivocally the model to go for.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI 4Motion 286 Black Edition
Price: Touareg from 67,740, car as tested 72,665
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, 4Motion all-wheel drive
Power: 286hp at 3,500-4,000rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 1,750-3,250rpm
Emissions: 215g/km
Economy: 34.4mpg
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Top speed: 147mph
Boot space: 810-1,800 litres

Styling

The two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Touaregs, namely the aforementioned 381hp version which is additional to the revised range, and the continuing R high-performance variant with 462hp, have their own specifications, which are Elegance and, er, R respectively. Which leaves the middle 'Black Edition' trim purely for the three internal combustion choices - these are a weird 3.0-litre TSI petrol V6 with 340hp, which must be absolutely ruinous to run, and then two derivations of the super-smooth 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. One has 231hp and 500Nm, but it's this 286hp and 600Nm variant you'll be wanting.

Anyway, we'll come onto the 'why' of that particular assertion later. For now, the Black Edition rather gives the game away as to its aesthetic signifiers. Without going all Johnny the Painter on you, black, black, black is the key aspect of the exterior. It's on the radiator grille, which of course now includes the full-width light strip (and yes, this Touareg has the light-up rear 'VW' badge and coast-to-coast illumination on its bootlid too), it clothes the enhanced air intakes in the front bumper, all the rear glass is rendered 85 per cent darker than it is on the Elegance, the 21-inch 'Leeds' alloys are finished in the colour, and so are the mirror caps, the roof rails, the window surrounds, the trailing edge of the roof spoiler on the top of the boot, the lower rear bumper... you get the idea.

Not that we're complaining - it looks good, especially against the Chilli Red metallic paint - but we're slightly baffled by the fact that Volkswagen has dropped all mention of R-Line; that sporty-looking spec is officially gone from the Touareg configurator. Except... the Black Edition is clearly just an R-Line with a dark-themed exterior package on it. You can tell this, because there are still big 'R' logos on the leading edges of both front doors, as well as the radiator grille. Odd.

Interior

You'll find more 'R' logos in here, continuing the confusing 'this is definitely a Black Edition and not an R-Line, oh no, definitely not an R-Line, no, please ignore those R logos, they're not there' thought processes. But, again, no matter - the cabin of this Touareg is just as pleasant as that of the Elegance PHEV. In fact, it's probably better, as ergoComfort front seats are fitted which also come with electric adjustment and a memory function as well, while the screens and displays are a tiny bit less complicated than they are in the PHEV as there's no part-electrical drivetrain that needs managing here. But the sweeping Innovision Cockpit digital dashboard set-up remains and it looks great, even if those touchpad controls on the steering wheel are an infuriating backwards ergonomic step from the physical buttons that went before. At least you now get lane-level detail on the navigation and higher-resolution HD map data too, both features of the entire updated Touareg range.

Practicality

One benefit that we touched upon in the review of the Elegance PHEV is that the turbodiesel Touareg has a bigger boot, because there's no battery pack and electrical gear beneath its floor. So you get an absolutely ginormous 810-litre cargo bay, even with five people onboard. Fold the rear bench down and that number swells to 1,800 litres, so you've got anything between 125 and 145 litres more space to play with here than you do in the Touareg eHybrid (or the R, for that matter). Otherwise, it's the same as the PHEV, with a commodious amount of rear-seat accommodation and plenty of useful in-car storage spaces.

Performance

This is the drivetrain which clearly suits the Touareg's character the best. It's not a sporty SUV, so the R is basically a contradictory model, while the eHybrid 381 feels like it's a bit underpowered given its mass. This means that despite the fact that, on paper, the TDI is nearly 100 horsepower down on the PHEV and has no more torque, the pertinent point is it clocks in a massive 325kg lighter, which makes it feel more urgent and muscular at all times.

Better yet, it sounds brilliant, with more character from the turbodiesel V6 than the petrol-powered 3.0-litre that is the basis for the eHybrid, and it's a great companion for the slick, eight-speed Tiptronic 'box. There's also none of that hesitance you get from the PHEV as it tries to marshal its twin propulsion motors, the TDI instead simply exhibiting a discreet but acceptable level of turbo-lag that you can easily work around and plenty of mid-range thump to dig into beyond.

And why do you want the 286hp engine, rather than the 231hp equivalent? Well, the price difference between them is a mere 2,680, which represents just four per cent on a car which is 67,780 as the lower-powered version, and that won't amount to anything when it comes to the monthlies on a PCP deal. So you get the additional 55hp and 100Nm, which makes the Touareg 1.3 seconds quicker to 62mph from rest - a meaningless metric on its own, granted, but it does speak volumes about how much stronger the 286hp SUV feels in everyday operation - and yet VW quotes identical 34.4mpg economy and 215g/km CO2 emissions for both TDIs. For us, the 286hp version is as close to a no-brainer as this kind of decision is ever going to get.

Ride & Handling

The best bit about the Black Edition is not just that you get access to the much more pleasurable 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel drivetrain than the Elegance-only PHEV, but also this trim grade is also blessed with air suspension as standard. And that is nigh-on transformative for the way the Touareg rides. On this set-up, it is far more comfortable and much less fidgety than the steel-sprung Elegance, while the diesel engine is mighty subdued when it's not revving above 2,500rpm. So for simple rolling refinement purposes, the 286hp TDI Black Edition again emphatically proves its worth.

It's not much better to drive in the corners, however, although its relative lack of mass does make it a little pointier and the steering that bit more informative. We're talking very small degrees of separation, though, and in no way does the air suspension move the dynamic capabilities of the Touareg TDI into the zone where a closely related Porsche Cayenne would start getting worried. The Volkswagen SUV is assured and it is capable, and you can sharpen it even more with active anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering from the options list, but however you configure it this is not a vehicle which is hugely rewarding in the corners to any notable degree.

There are also clever technologies like Trailer Assist, which makes towing and backing up a horsebox easier, and various off-road systems to ensure the Touareg will remain a good choice for rural types. It'll haul 3,500kg of braked trailer, which is good, while we tried it on a short but reasonably challenging off-road course and it naturally aced it (Volkswagen's PR team would have carefully curated the track to make the SUV look as rugged and go-anywhere as possible) - so even if owners never get its tyres dirty, it's nice to know the Volkswagen won't get stuck the first time you show it some claggy mud. There's also a new roof-load sensor on the car, which can pick up if you've got something strapped to the top of the Touareg and then adjust the ESC for better stability accordingly, which is a neat touch.

Value

The Volkswagen Touareg Black Edition comes with a solid level of top-end kit, as befitting a car which is pretty much 70 grand whatever way you cut it. On top of the generous basic equipment of an Elegance, the Black Edition gains the 21-inch alloys, the black exterior styling, air suspension, electrically adjustable front seats with a memory function, Park Assist Pro with Area View, the ergoComfort seats in the front, and the tinted rear glass.

It certainly feels upmarket inside and there's no doubting the sheer quality of what's on offer, but our problem with the Touareg TDI remains the same as the PHEV - it's not appreciably cheaper than the Cayenne or Audi's Q8, two rivals with heavyweight prestige badges that use much of its same technology. And there's still no seven-seat option for the Volkswagen, which would at least give it the edge on these two in-house competitors, albeit not the Audi Q7. One slight thing leaning matters back in the Touareg's favour, certainly when it comes to the Porsche in particular, is that the diesel powertrain isn't available in the Cayenne at all these days.

Verdict

Fitting the 3.0-litre, 286hp turbodiesel V6 drivetrain and air suspension of the Black Edition spec to the Volkswagen Touareg in no way transforms it into a market leader, nor does it make it seem any more affordable on the surface, but what it does do is show off this likeable, grand SUV in its best light. Thus specified, this is a really nice, really polished big SUV and we think it's well worth consideration if you're in the market for such a thing.

That said, you've still got to really dislike any of the social connotations that come with purchasing a Porsche, Audi, BMW or Mercedes equivalent to the VW to end up with the pricey Touareg in the first place, of course, but if you do buy the most powerful turbodiesel in the line-up, you're left with a deeply talented and immensely practical luxury SUV with top-notch levels of refinement. For many people, that will be more than enough justification for having a facelifted Touareg, even if some rivals - in our opinion - are better all-round packages.



Matt Robinson - 17 Nov 2023



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2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.

2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.2024 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI Black Edition 286. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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