The top end of the off-road market has become pretty congested at the moment, with the likes of Range Rover, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes and Audi, not to mention Bentley and Lamborghini also throwing their hat into the ring. But if you’re looking for something a little more affordable but want to maintain the high levels of quality, then Volkswagen could just have the answer with this— the latest take on the Touareg 4×4.
The Touareg has been around since the early naughties and it’s now in its third incarnation. Over time its got bigger, lighter, more stylish and the tech has got more advanced. But while the luxury has grown over the years, the price tag has always remained at a level that makes it an attractive proposition when lined up against the big boys of the class.
On the road
When the Touareg was first launched, it shared the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne, 16 years later though and the platform is now not only shared with the Porsche but also the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, all of which are very dynamic cars.
Now while the VW has a good starting point with the platform, it doesn’t have the same fire-breathing powerplants as its siblings. There are five engines available, three diesel’s and a petrol, and a plug-in hybrid which is on the way. The diesel’s take the form of a 3.0-litre v6 turbo with either 228 or 282bhp but if you want more shove, then there’s a 4.0-litre v8 with 415bhp. The 335bhp V6 petrol and hybrid, which offers 362bhp and zero emissions, are both due over the next twelve months.
This one we’ve got here is the higher powered V6 diesel and as you’d expect for a car which shares the platform with so many other high-end brands, it doesn’t disappoint. Performance figures show it’ll do the 0-60 dash in around six seconds, not bad for a two-tonne car and it keeps going to a top speed just short of 150mph.
It comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can be used as a full auto, or the gears can be changed manually using these paddle shifters on the wheel. The gearbox can be a little slow-witted at times though, especially when you want to pull out to overtake, or when you need to nip out of a junction.
The Touareg comes with a permanent four-wheel system and you can set it up depending on the driving conditions using this rotary dial. The four driving modes include on road, off road, individual and snow. You can also alter the set up of the car depending on your driving style, whether that’s eco, comfort, normal or sport. If you want to go crazy on the options list, then you can plump for air suspension and four-wheel steering to help improve agility, and to an extent it really does help, but in all honesty, you really have to be pushing the car to the limits to really feel the benefits.
In the cabin
Inside, the cabin is exactly at the levels of a car that commands a price tag of nearly sixty thousand pounds. In fact, it wouldn’t look too out of place in an Audi. All the cabin materials are first rate, the seats are comfortable, supportive, and fully adjustable, as is the steering wheel. But the first thing you’ll notice when you get behind the wheel is this 15 inch high-definition, TFT touch-screen infotainment system which dominates the centre console. It controls everything from the sat nav, to radio, heater controls, car settings, the lot. The buttons are big and clear and it’s quick to respond and easy to use. It will take a little bit of time though to get to grips with where everything is.
As well as this, in front of the driver is a 12 inch digital cockpit – the same system as the virtual cockpit in Audis, and it’s a fully digital display system that shows the normal dials, but it will also display other car features like the sat nav, radio settings and in-car set up. Now as impressive as this system looks, it is an optional extra, and standard models get a 9.2 in touchscreen and conventional buttons.
The Touareg is a strict five-seater, and there’s no option of a pair of additional seats in the back. That means that all occupants will have plenty of room as well as a sizeable boot. Rear passengers have seats that can slide and recline should they fancy a nap on a long journey. The only black mark is the transmission tunnel that impedes rear leg room for the middle passenger.
The boot is a good size and shape, even when stacked up against more expensive rivals, and with the 40:20:40 split rear seats folded down it offers an impressive 1,800 litres of space.
Overall then the Touareg is an impressive bit of kit. It drives impressively well, it’s spacious and solidly built. The only criticisms we’d have are that imposing 15inch infotainment system. It may look the business, but it is a little complicated to use on the move and that eight-speed gearbox can be a little hesitant when it comes to pulling out of junctions and overtaking.