State of the art technology is more than ever the hallmark of Germany’s largest automaker. Its Touareg opened more than a decade ago the era of the luxury high performance SUV brimming with sophistication and avant-garde mechanics. VW wants to maintain this tradition, and indeed, its latest generation Touareg has what it takes to set again new standards in its segment. This new flagship is now amongst us, and it is a formidable car, sharing its platform with the Bentley Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus… Need we say more?
We drove for you here the version with the supersmooth and velvety powerful 3 liter V6 diesel engine, which again proves brilliantly how good modern diesels have become. It is coupled to an equally superb 8 speed Tiptronic and features as standard equipment the 4MOTION all wheel drive. All this warrants a delightful driving experience, and indeed that’s what it proved to be… Just read on.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A strong presence…
Indeed, when you approach the new Touareg and give it a first look, you feel that it makes a serious statement. The grille already underlines this. Solid, dependable, timeless. The correct proportions, the elegant and finely cut lines and contours of the rest of the car tell the same story. Indeed, it has an aura of elegance which is increasingly a typical hallmark of VW styling. One intuitively feels that its proportions and lines will be pleasing for years to come.
The interior breathes the same styling philosophy, the proportions and contours of the dashboard and seats bear witness to the same search for timeless elegance and solid workmanship. But when your eyes browse over the large dark screen surfaces spread across the dashboard, in its center and right in front of you, then you realize that this is not your ordinary car.
Indeed, the future has started, as soon as you slide behind the wheel and push the starting knob. VW calls it the “Innovision Cockpit.” A truly massive “Discover Premium” infotainment system (with 15-inch display) shines at you in the center, and it merges with the 12 inch display of the Digital Cockpit right in front of you. The unit hardly needs any conventional buttons or switches. And you can endlessly personalize it… so this becomes truly “your” Touareg.
On the Digital Cocpit we selected the Night Vision assistance system, which detects people and animals in darkness via a thermal imaging camera. Simply amazing.
All the systems are connected via a new control unit, and include Roadwork Lane Assist (semi-automated steering and lane keeping, accelerating and braking up to 60 km/h), Front Cross Traffic Assist (reacts to cross traffic in front of the Touareg), active all-wheel steering (makes the Touareg handle like a compact car), new roll stabilisation with electromechanically controlled anti-roll bars, ‘IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights’ (interactive, camera-based dipped and main beam headlight control). All the systems, once selected, work in the background, and are totally intuitive to select and handle.
A driving experience of the highest standard…
But it is not merely state of the art electronics which delight you. It is also the way it performs and rides. As said, the same platform is used in absolute supercars like the Bentayga, and this results in top notch comfort, handling, drivability and smoothness. Let’s just start with the drivetrain. A supersmooth V6 purrs to life, when you push the starting knob. Forget any diesel clatter when the engine is cold. Just a feline hum caresses your ears. Put the gearlever of the Tiptronic in D and off you go.
Not the slightest jolt is felt, you enjoy just a smooth flow of power. This 8-speed auto box makes it happen, and is ideally mated to this V6. Of course, as any diesel befits, it has ample torque. A healthy 500 Nm is at your disposal, between 1750 and 3000 rpm. Below and beyond this rev band, this torque stays well above 400 Nm, so you can imagine the outright performance. Top power is 231 HP, and this is enough to accelerate the Touareg with its driver from 0 to 100 km/h in 7,5 seconds, hurtling further to a top speed of 235 km/h. To put everything in perspective, this is 0,5 second faster than James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, and practically just as fast in the top speed. For those unsatisfied mortals who need still more, there is a 286 HP V6 diesel version available.
We rather enjoyed throughout our test the restful smoothness of this V6, enhanced by the excellent transmission and last but not least the chassis and suspension. The ride quality over our Belgian potholed (urban)roads and motorways has to be experienced to be believed, and this Touareg offers you also great cornering qualities and lets itself steer with precision. It doesn’t mind to be driven with spirit, but is equally at home when driven sedately in an urban boulevard tour.
Gran Turismo driving with this Touareg is of the highest caliber, as one will easily understand. If on this grand tour you meet snowy mountain passes or muddy forest roads, just put on a feudal smile, keep your foot on the throttle and drive on to your destination.
Parking is of course beautifully assisted, and indeed, night driving is a breeze with the Night Vision system. When driven with restraint and common sense, you will not unduly endanger the environment with average consumptions between 7 and 8 liters/100 km.
Of course, a car of this power and weight (kerb weight is 2070 kg) will require energy when it is being moved with spirit, so much depends on your driving style. Suffice to say that this diesel powered Touareg will basically consume as much as a 1,5 liter petrol engined car weighing 1500 kg or thereabouts, developing 100 HP less. The choice is yours… The manufacturer quotes an average consumption of 6,6 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions being 173 g/km.
Seating comfort is beyond reproach, and in the top end tech version we tested we enjoyed “Front ergoComfort” seats with electric 14-way adjustment for seat height, seat length, seat cushion angle, backrest angle and 4-way electrically adjustable lumbar support.
A wide array of climate/ventilation/temperature controls keep you fit and alert. Or course, an air quality monitor/filter is provided, and via the 15 inch central screen you can select any ventilation/climate setting you want. There is of course ample room in the back, and it is good to know that standard (with rear bench seat up) luggage space has been enlarged from 697 to 810 litres.
Infotainment is of course also of the highest order, and we enjoyed concert quality audio (DAB+ of course…) through the excellent audio system.
A large SUV of superlatives. This car will take you safely, with style, panache and comfort to any destination you choose, will tackle masterfully any road it meets, and it will do so reliably and with a good sense of economy, given its class and size.
It sets undoubtedly new standards when it comes to electronics, to assist your task behind the wheel, to entertain and inform you and surround you with the optimal (air) atmosphere.
It will offer you a high quality ride, inspire you with its handling and performance, to be enjoyed by you and those who travel with you on any delightful voyage, be it long or short. Indeed, a car which offers you the delightful adventure of motoring, and redefines it in a beautiful manner, on any road you may choose.
Hans Knol ten Bensel