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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Touareg


We like
Base model offers excellent value, great space, classy interior, V6 diesel powertrain, R model is a serious performance SUV, air-suspension ride is lovely, 3.5-tonne towing across the range
Room for improvement
Touchscreen is fiddly, no pillar air-vents in base car, only comes with five seats, pricey maintenance, steering wheel haptic buttons, brake pedal feel in PHEV

Value-focused base model impresses, and performance-oriented R flagship excites

30 May 2024



UPDATES don’t get much more significant than this one.


The revised VW Touareg large SUV range is more compelling value now than ever before as luxury brands continue to increase their prices to intimidating levels.


And while Volkswagen isn’t a luxury brand in the same way as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Genesis, Lexus or Volvo, make no mistake – this is a luxury SUV with more of a mainstream starting price.


Indeed, with the base model 170TDI starting at $86,790+ORCs and still scoring a brilliantly refined 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and the benchmark 3.5-tonne towing capacity, it’s a mighty impressive thing even before you consider the standard specification levels on offer.


You can read about those details here, but rest assured that even in the base grade you’re getting a luxury SUV drive experience and interior vibe with lovely open-pore wood, real leather trim (for better or worse), heated seats and a 15.0-inch touchscreen. There’s also ambient lighting and on the topic of lights, the new IQ Light HD Matrix LED headlights are a boon for bush buyers.


That 170TDI diesel engine has a broad appeal, with 170kW and 500Nm from the 3.0L turbo-diesel, an eight-speed auto and AWD and impressive claimed combined fuel consumption at 7.3 litres per 100km. The higher-grade 210TDI model adds more grunt from a similar V6 diesel, with 210kW and 600Nm, and just a smidge higher fuel use - 7.4L/100km.


As part of the launch event I spent plenty of time in this grade, but also had a chance to pilot the other bookend in the model range, the flagship Touareg R plug-in hybrid performance SUV.


With a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine integrating an electric motor and battery pack, it can run in pure EV mode for a claimed 51km (I saw 43km on a cold Melbourne morning in a mix of traffic and higher-speed urban driving), and I also got to see how it managed its enormous 340kW/700Nm combined maximum output – and for those playing along at home, yes, that makes it the most powerful VW ever.


More on the drive experience soon, but the interior finish – no matter the variant – is befitting of the price tag, though some may find the button-less touchscreen media system a bit fiddly to get used to. And another annoying thing about the interior is the haptic button controls on the steering wheel; I accidentally bumped the steering wheel heating button a couple of times during a spirited drive.


Otherwise the cabin is a lovely space in each version with variant specific leather seat trim and all models  equipped with heated and electrically adjustable front seats. Higher models add cooled front seats, massage settings, heated rear seats and even rear climate control.


Back seat space is great, with easily enough room for a six-foot adult to sit in behind another big bod and the second-row seat can slide forward if you need to prioritise boot space. There are ISOFIX (x2) and top-tether (x3) points, and while three seats across - and three adults across will be do-able, there is a large transmission tunnel intrusion that eats into the space a bit.

All models have directional air-vents in the back of the centre console but you have to spend up to get additional vents in the B-pillars.


Boot space is 810 litres with the rear seats up, and 1800L with them down. Under the boot floor of diesel models there’s an inflatable weight/space-saving spare while the hybrid model gets a repair kit only.


When it comes to ownership, the Touareg has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with an eight-year/160,000km warranty for the lithium-ion battery pack in the PHEV.


There are five-year Care Plan options for the Touareg 170TDI and 210TDI priced at $3500 which means you get your first service free compared with standard capped-price servicing. The PHEV model has a cheaper five-year plan ($3400 - first service free).


Driving impressions


First off, the 170TDI, which is a truly impressive family diesel SUV. With ample torque, strong response and terrific refinement, it offers smooth and smart progress, and even in the base grade there are multiple drive modes too.


Open road country cruising is where this car feels at home with a serene and supremely comfortable and controlled on-road drive experience, even on gravel tracks it’s a really great drive.

If you spend more time in town you might find the suspension to be a little sharp-edged in the base model, and sadly in the 170TDI you can’t option the air suspension that irons out those creases so convincingly in the higher grades.


So, if you just want a plush cruisy diesel family SUV, the 170TDI would be a lovely one, but I’d personally make the justification to get into the Elegance for the air suspension and extra features it adds.

If you want a performance SUV - and I mean, a seriously impressive performance SUV - the Touareg R comes across as a bargain compared with rivals like the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, with which it shares MLB Evo platform underpinnings.


The plug-in hybrid system offers the most power of any VW to date, and we’re talking numbers that would make those other brands stand to attention, and it delivers that grunt exceptionally well when you’re driving hard in Sport mode.

It is unfathomably fast, sits flat and handles way more convincingly than you might expect from a 2433kg SUV. The biggest concern for me was the brake pedal feel, which - because of the incorporated regen’ system, has an airiness at the top of the pedal and can catch you off guard if you approach a bend with too much pace.


Not only is it a point-to-point weapon, it’s also the sort of car that can serenely get you from A to B when you’re running in Normal or Eco mode and the battery is full. The regen’ system and engine can replenish the battery pack if you want or you can recharge at up to 7.2kW AC.


The urban drive we did at the launch showcased that this really is a jack of all trades, with a compliant and comfortable – not to mention near-silent – urban drive, with a very predictable driveability.


Intriguingly you can feel the transmission shifting gears in EV mode, and if you need the petrol engine to kick into life to help you along in EV mode, the transition is very smooth. It’s a really refined and luxurious experience.


This update? Certainly worth the wait.

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