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First look: Volkswagen's leaner new Touareg

Leaner: The all-new Touareg is said to be some 208kg lighter at base level.

Vastly lighter and more efficient new Touareg SUV emerges from Volkswagen

11 Feb 2010

VOLKSWAGEN has peeled the wraps off its second-generation Touareg SUV, gazumping the German giant’s newest brand Porsche, whose closely related MkII Cayenne will also make its world premiere at the Geneva motor show on March 2.

Described as the most technically advanced VW ever, the redesigned luxury SUV, which goes on sale in Australia in 2011, is headlined by weight reductions of up to 208kg and efficiency gains of nearly 20 per cent.

The latter is aided by a new range of engines, but the starring powertrain role is played by an all-new petrol-electric hybrid drive system that will not initially be made available in Australia.

"We think that with the improvements in fuel consumption brought about by weight reductions and more efficient engines the demand for a hybrid version won't warrant its inclusion in the new range at this stage," said Volkswagen Group Australia spokesman Karl Gehling.

In contrast, Porsche's new Cayenne - including a hybrid version - is also expected to emerge at Geneva before going on sale in Australia before the end of this year.

Volkswagen says the new Touareg “the first and only off-roader in Europe by a German car-maker to be available in a hybrid version too”.

Like the Cayenne Hybrid, the full two-mode parallel-drive hybrid version of the next Touareg can be driven at up to 50km/h in full-electric emissions-free mode. It is claimed to return average fuel consumption of just 8.2 litres per 100km – “the best value in the segment of genuine SUVs”.

3 center imageWith the new Touareg V6 TDI diesel said to return an even lower 7.4L/100km average, Volkswagen says the Touareg Hybrid and V6 TDI are “the most fuel-efficient petrol and diesel SUVs ever built in Europe in this large vehicle class”.

Both V6 models will also come with an automatic idle-stop system, which shuts off the engine at standstill and restarts it as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal.

The fitment of an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard across the range – which Volkswagen claims is “a first in this market segment”, despite BMW fitting the same number of ratios to its facelifted X5, due here mid-year – is claimed to help deliver fuel economy advances of up to 2L/100km on some models.

While Porsche has made significant improvements in both off and on-road ability with its new Cayenne – despite the abandonment of a standard low-range transfer case – both off and on-road oriented versions of VW’s new, more upmarket Touareg will be available this time round in the pursuit of fuel economy.

GoAuto understands only the road-oriented version of the new Touareg will be made available in Australia next year.

The entry-level ‘4Motion’ version features all-wheel drive with a Torsen limited-slip differential offering a climbing ability of up to 31 degrees, as well as a push-button ‘Off-road driving programme’ that, like the ‘Track & Field’ version of the smaller Tiguan, tunes the braking and stability/traction control systems for off-road driving, as well as activates hill descent control and adjusts transmission gearshift points.

In Europe, the Touareg V6 TDI will also be available with an optional ‘Terrain Tech Packet’, which instead of a Torsen centre coupling incorporates a transfer case with reduction ratios and centre and rear differentials with 100 per cent locking action, allowing inclines of up to 45 degrees to be scaled.

As with the current model, the ‘4XMotion’ Touareg features a rotary switch that selects between five drive modes: on-road, off-road, low-range, centre diff lock and rear diff lock. “Equipped like this, the Touareg can conquer any terrain on Earth,” says VW.

Along with a 200kg-plus weight saving at base level, Volkswagen says its newest full-size crossover wagon also offers five per cent better torsional body rigidity, making it “the leader in its competitive class”.

Also helping its efficiency drive, the Touareg is claimed to make significant gains in aerodynamics by featuring a smaller frontal area with VW’s new corporate look and a lower ride height than before.

Inside, the Touareg cabin is said to be both more functional and comfortable, with increased rear legroom via a bench seat that now slides 160mm fore and aft and features a reclinable seatback. When folded after pushing the electric unlatch button, it is said to liberate a larger 1642 litres of cargo space.

All models will come standard with new features including a 6.5-inch touch screen coupled to CD-radio and information systems, an electric parking brake and nine airbags.

New options will include automatic tailgate opening/closing via the key fob, a panoramic sunroof claimed to be the biggest of any SUV, a four-camera ‘Area View’ monitoring function, a ‘Lane Assist’ lane departure warning system, ‘Side Assist’ blind-spot monitoring, ‘Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist’, bi-Xenon headlights with ‘Dynamic Light Assist’.

Further options available under the ‘Exclusive’ badge from Volkswagen Individual include 19-inch ‘Girona’ alloy wheels, ‘Olive Ash’ woodgrain inserts and Nappa leather trim in Dark Burgundy/Titan Black or Pepper Beige/Titan Black colours.

The new Touareg replaces a model that attracted about 500,000 sales globally, including 762 examples last year – 28.5 per cent down on 2008 figures – in Australia, where it first went on sale in September 2003.

It goes on sale in Europe a month after its global debut in April.

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