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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Touareg - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

11 Jul 2011

SHORT of providing a numerical sales forecast, Volkswagen’s Australian outpost expects to sell “heaps” of its second-generation Touareg in this country’s booming SUV market.

Speaking at the Australian launch of the redesigned Touareg, VW Group Australia general manager of press and PR Karl Gehling told GoAuto that the company is “very happy with the product, the specification, the pricing and positioning.”

Mr Gehling added that, since the car was unveiled at the 2010 Geneva motor show, there had been encouraging levels of customer inquiry and that around 200 vehicles are already on the ground in Australia to satisfy initial orders.

The first-generation Touareg averaged 55 units per month, topping 100 monthly sales 11 times since its launch in January 2003, with a peak of 161 sales in June 2009.

With the introduction of a V6 diesel-powered, leather-upholstered $62,990 entry-level 150TDI variant, the bigger, more luxurious, but lighter and more economical new Touareg range opens $13,000 less expensive than its predecessor’s single runout spec and $2000 cheaper than the original five-cylinder, cloth-seated base model.

Mr Gehling said the keen pricing is due to the new Touareg being cheaper to manufacture than before, and that the strong Aussie dollar is also a contributor, “as it has with all of our new models”.

Volkswagen is pushing the Touareg’s luxury status hard with a multi-media ‘Fall in luxury’ advertising campaign that started over the weekend, coinciding with the car’s official press launch in Noosa.

With prices starting from $62,990 (plus on-road costs) and therefore firmly in luxury SUV territory, the question remains as to whether customers will be put off by the Touareg’s relative lack of badge prestige.

“If people are put off by a badge, there is very little we can do to persuade them otherwise,” said Mr Gehling. “Their mind is already made up.”

At 4795mm long, the Touareg is 62mm shorter than BMW’s X5 (from $92,100) but priced similarly to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, which are respectively 166mm and 145mm shorter than the VW and therefore less roomy.

The Touareg’s most direct competitor on size, price and possibly brand prestige is the ageing Volvo XC90 – which has been on sale in Australia almost as long as the Touareg and averaging 116 units per month.

The XC90 offers the benefit of seven-seat practicality, a feature VW says it omitted due to the vehicle’s dimensions.

Despite the previous Touareg’s slower than expected sales being attributed by some to its lack of third-row seating, Volkswagen Group Australia marketing manager Jutta Friese denied the brand is planning a stretched, seven-seat Touareg.

The big VW trumps most other luxury SUVs with all variants offering a 3500kg braked towing capacity.

The second-generation Touareg is available from launch with VW Group’s 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 in 150kW (150TDI) or 176kW (V6 TDI) tune plus a V6 FSI 3.6-litre 206kW naturally aspirated petrol V6.

Both V6 TDI and V6 FSI models are priced from $77,990.

All get a few of Volkswagen’s eco-friendly BlueMotion technologies (but not the full BlueMotion treatment) such as idle-stop, brake energy recuperation and thermal management for the drivetrain to ensure quicker warm-up times.

No other variants – including the petrol-electric hybrid or 4.2-litre V8 diesel offered elsewhere – are planned for import at this stage.

A minor model-year changeover took place while existing Touareg stocks were being shipped, meaning that some early adopters will get a fraction less power and fuel economy.

MY2012 150kW diesels become 10kg lighter and more efficient (down from 7.6 to 7.2 litres per 100km) while the 176kW diesel loses 5kg and has power upped to 180kW, with consumption improving to 7.4L/100km (down 0.2).

The 150kW/440Nm diesel sprints to 100km/h in 9.0 seconds, while both the 180kW/550Nm diesel and 206kW/360Nm petrol complete the dash in 7.8s.

The 150TDI emits 190 grams per kilometre of CO2, the V6 TDI emits 196g/km and the V6 FSI pumps out 240g/km while consuming 10.1L/100km on average.

Mr Gehling said VW expects the 180kW diesel variant to be the volume seller, particularly among early adopters, who typically opt for a high specification. Mid- to long-term, he sees diesels accounting for more than 90 per cent of Touareg sales.

A generously equipped single specification level is standard across the higher-powered diesel and petrol variants, with a slightly lower level of equipment – and fewer available options – exclusively paired with the entry-level 150kW engine.

In addition to a full complement of electronic safety aids, including a rollover sensor system, all Touareg variants come with nine airbags, comprising outer rear-seat passenger side protectors, front, side, and curtain airbags plus a driver’s knee-bag.

All Touaregs come equipped as standard with leather upholstery, alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, air quality detection with automatic air recirculation, front and rear parking sensors, multi-function colour touch-screen display, Bluetooth, MP3/WMA, USB, auxiliary and SD-card inputs, steering-wheel audio and telephone controls, auto-dimming mirror, heated electrically adjusting and folding door mirrors with automatic kerb view when reversing, split-fold rear bench with recline function, centre arm-rest and load-through facility, auto wipers, heated washer jets, auto headlights and front foglights.

The entry-level 150TDI rides on 17-inch alloys, gets leather upholstery (rather than softer Nappa) and manually adjustable (including height) front seats. It is not available with air suspension or the comfort option and sports interior packages.

All other variants get 18-inch alloys, automatic tailgate, eight-inch touch-screen satellite-navigation with 40GB hard drive and DVD player, electrically adjustable front seats with pneumatic side bolsters and the Nappa leather upholstery.

Recognising that most Touareg owners rarely venture away from bitumen, VW has made optional the 51kg heavier beefed-up transfer case, low-range ratios and locking diffs that provided the previous-generation Touareg with its off-road credibility.

The ‘4XMOTION’ Touareg, which is $5000 more expensive than the 180kW diesel variant on which it is based, is also fitted with under-body transmission and engine guards, stylised lower body scuff panels and a larger 100-litre fuel tank – but even this version comes with only a space-saver spare wheel, with no full-size option available.

All models can be specified with a $5400 driver assistance package, comprising adaptive cruise control with front assist and emergency brake function, lane assist, lane departure warning, proactive occupant protection system, side assist and lane changing assistant.

The $1000 sports interior pack adds aluminium pedals, sill scuff plates, dashboard inserts, rear privacy glass, heated steering wheel with paddle-shifters and black headlining.

The Comfort package at $4500 includes four-zone climate control, memory function for the electric seat, mirror and steering wheel adjustment, heated/ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel.

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