Volkswagen’s big SUV is 17 years and three generations old now. The current model launched in 2018 and is based on the same MLB platform as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. Volkswagen has thrown everything it has into making this the most luxurious, most tech-laden and sharpest-driving Touareg yet.
That tech includes an amazing 15in central touchscreen that merges with the digital instrument panel to give a sweep of TFT across the dashboard several feet long. And the pilot’s POV satnav is stunning to behold (see the picture below). I didn’t have time to play with the infotainment much, but it’s incredibly comprehensive and seems intuitive to use.
The screen makes the interior, but it’s a very nice place to while away time, anyway. The materials feel up to the standards of premium-brand rivals, the switchgear feels chunky and solid, everything falls easily to hand and the seats are supremely comfortable.
There’s generous space, too. The Touareg is longer and wider – albeit lower – than its predecessor, giving a vast amount more space for people and things. There’s a lot more leg- and headroom in the back than before, and the boot extends to a van-like 1,800 litres.
Only one engine is available at the moment, a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel producing 286hp and 442lb/ft of torque – a hybrid may follow. It’s a creamily smooth unit and barely audible most of the time, backed up an eight-speed automatic gearbox that I couldn’t catch out.
The Touareg has a serious turn of speed, too. With a 0-62mph time of 6.2secs, it can out-drag a Ford Fiesta ST, and it’ll romp on to a top speed of 146mph. Accompanied by a baritone growl that egged me on to push the throttle just a bit harder.
Volkswagen quotes combined fuel economy of 33.6mpg on the WLTP cycle and NEDC derived Co2 emissions of 173g/km.
Pressing on around Millbrook’s hill route, the Touareg felt entirely at home. There’s no disguising the sheer size of the thing, which could become a problem on narrow B-roads. But there are many, many weapons-grade acronyms, (optional) air suspension and 4Motion four-wheel-drive to keep everything stable and secure. The ride quality is superb, too.
It answered every question I asked of it and, though there’s little feedback through the steering and chassis, there’s definitely a certain satisfaction to be had from throwing it around.
Indeed, ‘satisfaction’ sums up the whole Touareg experience. It does everything you want a big, luxurious SUV to do, with considerable aplomb and even a little panache.
You pay for it, though. The R-Line Tech model tested here carries a list price of £58,295 and came with options including many active safety systems, air suspension with low-speed rear axle steering, LED matrix beam headlights, Dynaudio stereo, head-up display, night-vision, panoramic roof, and a powered fold-out towbar. That lot hikes the ticket up to £74,585. Which is an awful lot of money for a Volkswagen.
But hang the price, I say. The Touareg is good enough give the Q7, Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Land Rover Discovery something to worry about.
The satnav alone makes it my choice…
Model tested: Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDi 286ps R-Line Tech 4Motion Tiptronic Type: Big premium SUV Price: £58,295 (£74,585 as tested) Engine: 3.0-litre V6-cylinder turbo diesel Power: 286hp Torque: 442lb/ft Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive Performance: 0-62mph in 6.2secs, top speed 146mph Economy: 33.6mpg combined, Co2 emissions 173g/km Length: 4,878mm Width: 2,193mm Height: 1,717mm Weight: 2,331kg Boot capacity 810l seats up, 1,800l seats down Towing weight: 3,500kg Rivals: Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus RX, Mercedes GLE, Volvo XC90
By Graham King