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Beijing show: VW plugs in with T-Prime concept

Prime time: Volkswagen's Touareg is getting long in the tooth but it likely this Beijing show car will be the next-gen version if it progresses into production form.

T-Prime Concept GTE heralds overdue Volkswagen Touareg replacement


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25 Apr 2016

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed its Beijing motor show concept hybrid SUV, dubbed the T-Prime Concept GTE, that is likely to preview the successor to Volkswagen's second-generation Touareg flagship SUV.

While the German car-maker has made no link between the show car and the Touareg, its size and styling fit the bill for a replacement, particularly considering the existing model's age, which is nudging five years in its current generation.

With a hybrid drivetrain, the new model would qualify as one of the seven electrified vehicles Volkswagen has promised to launch into the Chinese market over the next four years, but whether other combustion-only engines will be offered is yet to be confirmed.

The concept is clearly aimed at the Chinese market with a luxurious four-seat layout, but it is expected that a production version would also be offered in a more family-friendly seven-seat arrangement, as it is in the current Touareg.

As a plug-in hybrid, the T-Prime can travel up to 50km on pure electric power, but reverts back to a combined combustion unit when in GTE mode.

Combustion power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol TSI engine that contributes 185kW/370Nm, combined with a 100kW/350Nm electric motor for a total output of 280kW/700Nm, enabling the SUV to accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 6.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 224km/h.

Charging the 14.4kWh battery takes eight hours when using a 230-volt mains system and 3.6kW, but faster 7.2kW public charging systems can fully charge the T-Prime in two and a half hours.

With a discharged battery, the concept is said to use 8.0 litres of fuel per 100km but in combination with a full charge, fuel consumption falls to 2.7L/100km on the combined cycle.

Power is sent to all four wheels – via an eight-speed automatic transmission – for genuine go-anywhere capability in “any terrain” but the concept is also “agile like a sportscar” thanks to “state of the art chassis technology”, says Volkswagen.

More luxury and comfort features include completely digital display and controls with all physical switches replaced by either gesture or voice control, while even the eight-speed automatic transmission is controlled with a glass scroll wheel.

The steering wheel is remit of conventional switches but has tactile sensors hidden beneath the leather that are discovered by delivering a tactile pulse when the driver's hand is in contact with the correct sensing area.

The various electronic systems can be monitored by a 15-inch Curved Interaction Area screen that ties all the other electronic displays together.

More screens are located in the rear of the car for the two second-row passengers to control various comfort and entertainment features of the T-Prime, including a 10.1-inch tablet.

In recognition of China's lifestyle, the concept is coloured using the themes water, earth, wood, metal and fire, says Volkswagen.

The possible Touareg successor is the German car-maker's party piece at the Beijing show, but it shares the stage with three other models at the event, including an MQB platform-based sedan named the Magotan, which is sold in other markets as the Passat.

The new Phideon premium sedan also made its Asian show debut as the only other production car offering on display, while the Budd-e concept that broke cover at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas also had an outing.

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