The fleet of Volkswagen Group SUVs is one of the most impressive around, with options including the Audi Q7, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne. That’s quite the line-up.
At the base of that relatively premium tree is the Volkswagen Touareg, which sits on the same basic chassis as the others and, now in its third generation, features an impressive amount of kit, as well as a rather smart design.
Based on VW Group’s MLB Evo chassis architecture, this version of the Touareg is much lighter than before and can be fitted with a high level of safety equipment.
But with rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and even its sibling the Audi Q7 in the same price bracket, can Volkswagen make the step towards more premium vehicles with this? We take a look…
The Touareg we tested came with the unit that is likely to draw the most attention – the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that develops 282bhp and 600Nm of torque, providing plenty of pull under acceleration. Paired exclusively to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the power is sent to all four wheels with the 4Motion system in play – meaning it can go from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 148mph.
With the Touareg still being quite a heavy car, despite its diet between generations, the high levels of torque are very handy and help get you going without any issue at all. Currently, Volkswagen also offers the SUV with a 227bhp version of the V6 diesel, which doesn’t quite have the same oomph as the more powerful offering, but is still more than adequate. Although it hasn’t arrived yet, it is expected VW will introduce a plug-in hybrid version at some point in the near future.
Ride & Handling
The four-wheel drive system helps distribute the power to each wheel independently, while the all-wheel steering helps improve the model’s agility and makes the Touareg feel slightly smaller than it actually is. With the electronically adjustable suspension and steering aids though, it does lack feel – even if the cornering is still excellent.
With the optional air suspension fitted, the Touareg feels supremely comfortable and even when driven hard through a series of bends, it is composed and doesn’t wallow despite the car’s heft. Volkswagen has also ensured that this car feels very refined, as wind and road noise is kept to a minimum in the cabin.Test Drive the new Touareg
Interior & Equipment
As this model shows Volkswagen’s intent to be seen more as a premium brand, it’s clear to see where the brand has put most of its effort. The interior finish is much better than ever before, as our test car was fitted with the top of the range InnoVision cockpit layout, which features the Virtual Cockpit instrument display alongside a huge 15-inch infotainment touchscreen. That layout brings the cabin right up to date and it is teamed with higher end materials that provide an excellent finish.
Space-wise, the Touareg seats five – two less than rivals such as the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery – but the interior is very spacious, with more than enough head and legroom for those sitting in the back. The 810-litre boot is very practical as well, but if that isn’t quite enough, you can fold down the rear seats to reveal a 1,800-litre load space.
If you can’t quite go for the top-spec options, the kit fitted as standard is still quite good – with features such as 19-inch alloy wheels, LED head, tail and fog lights, roof rails, multifunction leather steering wheel, leather upholstery, a 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity, two-zone climate control and multiple driver assists.
Prices for the Touareg start from £48,995, which gets you the entry level SEL model with the 227bhp version of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel that provides the most efficient package in the Touareg range. We got behind the wheel of the top-spec R-Line Tech model, which starts from £58,195 and does feature the most impressive package in the Touareg line-up.
With that engine installed, the Touareg can achieve a claimed 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 173g/km, which isn’t too bad for an SUV of this size.
This third generation of the Touareg is a very capable car and despite its chassis siblings being particularly excellent, the Volkswagen holds its own – even if the Audi Q7 is only marginally more expensive. With lots of good equipment as standard, a well-balanced driving feel and a high-end finish that customers will appreciate, the Touareg shows that Volkswagen can mix it with the more premium brands in the segment.