Car reviews - Volkswagen - Touareg - 5-dr wagon range
Smooth and potent engines, diesel fuel economy, improved appearance
Room for improvement
Lack of reversing camera as standard, handling that doesn’t match car-based SUVs, expensive V10 diesel smells of overkill
16 Jul 2007
BUYING a massive SUV with brilliant off-road capability that you are going to use mostly for city work is not a sensible decision.
However, faced with all the big prestige SUVs available, choosing a Touareg rates as a relatively sensible choice.
That is unless you choose the monster V10 diesel ($121,990), which, unless you actually need to tow a 747 Jumbo, reeks of overkill.
The other models are all rather convincing, although the smaller diesels are probably best suited to the vehicle.
Not that there is much wrong with the V6 petrol.
The same direct-injection V6 FSI engine can be found in the Porsche Cayenne, which is now on sale here for $94,700.
Given that a large proportion of the Touareg is the same as the Cayenne as they were both born of the same joint-development program, it makes the petrol powered Vee-Dub a pretty good proposition given that it costs $20,000 less.
The new Touareg range benefits from the latest upgrade, but the driving experience doesn’t change all that much.
The new seats are quite supportive and the new-look instrument cluster is neat and tidy, capping off a classy and well put together interior, but these are not big changes.
Of course, the exterior upgrades could well be enough to encourage potential customers to give the Touareg another look.
The first Touareg look a little plain when it first went on sale, so it was well in need of an overhaul, especially given all its major rivals including the Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5 and Audi Q7 all have fresh designs.
While the Touareg maintains is general form, the new headlights and chrome-dipped nose do lift the look.
Basically, it looks like a more expensive vehicle.
That’s important when you are expecting customers to shell out a fair amount of cash for a car with the badge most people associate with $30,000 Golfs.
The improved safety features that arrive with the update are welcome.
We didn’t test out the rollover detection system, but could try the brakes.
They didn’t seem any better or worse than the anchor systems in rival products, but certainly weren’t bad given the bulk of the vehicle that needed to be pulled up.
The Touareg models are quite civilised on the road, with or without the optional air suspension, although there is a bit of wind-noise thanks to is shape which can’t help but create a lot of drag.
It is a comfortable car for long distance driving, although it still does handle more like an SUV than some of the smaller car-based models.
This is mainly characterised by chopping around over uneven surfaces and displaying the mild bodyroll you would expect from a car this high off the ground.
VW set up an off-road course at last week’s national launch at Tugalong Station in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, which did outline its capability to go far off the beaten track.
All the cars we tested easily managed any challenges thrown at them, moving comfortably through mud, over bumpy, rutted road and clearing some nasty rocks.
The only problem was that all the vehicles were fitted with the $5490 air suspension, which is only standard on the V10 diesel model.
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how well the regular models handle off-road work.
The most sensible model in the range in the base R5 model, which is not as potent as its siblings, but still gets along well enough.
Of course, if you can afford it, the V6 diesel is probably the pick of the bunch. It is such a smooth, refined and muscular engine.
The petrol V6 is a nice powerplant, but it is thirsty and also can’t match the low-down urge of the diesels.
The most fun engine is the V10 diesel, which slings the Touareg forward ferociously with a torrent of torque. It’s fun and would be awesome for towing, but then again so would the other diesels and they cost a lot less.
The six-speed automatic transmission worked well in all models, with crisp changes going almost unnoticed.
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