Everything about the new VW Touareg is massive.
From its overall size to the TV-like media screen, the full five-person interior to the 20-inch wheels, this is not a car that struggles to make an impression, even if it does struggle to fit in a supermarket car park.
At 4.8m long and 2.2m wide, it’s in the same category as the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Range Rover Velar but with a starting price of just under £50,000 undercuts the Germans while costing more than the Velar or a Jaguar F-Pace.
VW Touareg R-Line Tech
Price: £56,900 (£62,755 as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
Economy: 42.8mpg (NEDC)
CO2 emissions: 173g/km (NEDC)
The Touareg has already picked up a brace of awards as a tow car, with judges praising the V6 diesel’s ability to haul serious loads while cosseting passengers in a high-end environment.
The interior is classic VW. High-quality materials – from the de rigeur high-gloss black plastic to chrome trim and leather upholstery – leave you in no doubt that this is VW’s flagship model but also wishing for a splash of colour or character. It’s hugely comfortable and spacious – a true five-seater in a world where many cars feel designed to only ever carry four people.
As VW’s flagship the Touareg has also had all the latest tech from Wolfsburg thrown at it.
The details run to several pages but highlights include four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars, night vision, front cross traffic assist and traffic jam assist that uses the adaptive cruise control and camera-controlled lane assist to cope with slow-moving queues. Our car also feature a colour HUD and matrix LED headlights.
Inside there’s a spectacular combination of 12-inch digital instrument display and 15-inch media/nav touchscreen that houses the latest navigation with live routing and internet connectivity.There’s also a hard-drive media system and the usual suite of DAB and phone mirroring options. Four-zone climate control, USB and charging points aplenty plus several hides’ worth of leather complete the high-end package.
It’s all designed to make life as comfortable as possible for those on board.
For all its positioning as a high-end luxurious choice, however, the Touareg is strangely unsettled on the road and struggles to smooth out irregular surface. Much of that might be solved by fitting tyres will taller sidewalls but we Brits love our massive alloys and rubber band tyres even on SUVs.
I can imagine the Touareg cruising for hundreds of miles on smooth German autobahn completely unruffled but here on British roads the shortcomings of a sporty ride and big wheels are exposed.
It manages to handle surprisingly, though. Among the wealth of technology thrown at it are active anti-roll bars and rear wheel steering which make it feel remarkably agile and handle like a smaller car.
The Touraeg also proves that diesel isn’t dead yet. There’s still a place for big, silky smooth V6 engines and that’s in big, heavy SUVs designed to cover massive distances. Here the 3.0-litre unit does a good job of picking up pace without noise or fuss as the 282bhp is transmitted to the road via an eight-speed auto box and permanent four-wheel-drive.
Priced from £48,995, the Touareg is deep in the ultra-competitive premium world of BMW, Audi, Range Rover et al. It’s a bold position for VW, which has more usually found itself at the top of the mainstream offering, but one that could just pay off thanks to the Touareg’s high-end specification.