The new Touareg has some impressive cousins. It shares its basic platform with Bentley’s Bentayga, the Audi Q7 and even the new Lamborghini Urus. While it may not be as exclusive as some of these luxury SUVs, it’s a worthy flagship for the entire Volkswagen range.
confident’ and there’s no doubt the new, assertive chrome grille does make a statement. It’s flanked by LED Matrix headlights, each of which is home to 128 individual LEDs. Compared with its predecessor, the lines are more angular and sharp, with sculpted shoulders and broad tail light clusters at the rear. It’s the Volkswagen design language at its most upmarket, assured and proud. The new Touareg is 44mm wider and 77mm longer than the model it replaces, with sliding and folding rear seats in a 40:20:40 configuration and a boot capacity of 810 litres (with the rear seats in place). Lightweight aluminium construction accounts for a weight saving of over 100kg and commensurate improvement in fuel-efficiency.
When it’s launched in the UK in mid-2018 the Touareg will be available with a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel and eight-speed automatic gearbox which sends power to all four wheels via VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Other drivetrains to come include a 228bhp turbodiesel, a 336bhp turbo petrol and potentially a range-topping 4.0-litre V8. Although it’s a big, spacious luxury SUV, owners will find that the rear-wheel steering both increases manoeuvrability at low speeds and stability at higher speeds. The new Touareg has electro-mechanical active roll stabilisation, which reacts faster than conventional shock absorbers and keeps the vehicle flatter during spirited cornering. Air suspension can increase ride height by up to 70mm when off-roading and the maximum wading depth is 570mm. An optional off-road package offers further driving modes.
As the flagship of the Volkswagen range, the Touareg is packed with innovative technology. Its most striking feature is the Innovision cockpit, which combines VW’s 12-inch digital instrument display with a massive 15-inch dash-mounted touchscreen. This controls all the major functions and replaces practically every button on the dashboard. Innovision is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and includes a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows up to eight devices to be connected at one time. Innovision also allows you to create a customised Home screen with your favourite apps and photos or even let your passengers select the infotainment while you drive.
Other available technologies for the new Touareg includes Head-Up Display, Night Vision, Park Assist and a permanent e-SIM card that ensures the car’s software is kept constantly up to date.
Verdict: Volkswagen’s Phaeton saloon was an earlier attempt to take the VW roundel into the higher echelons of the premium sector, but it didn’t catch on in Europe. The Touareg, in contrast, proves that Volkswagen can cut it with the best in terms of features, technology and SUV luxury. It’s not the wildest-looking luxury SUV but as a way of transporting five people across all kinds of terrain in comfort while remaining connected to the outside world, it will take some beating.