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Driven: VW goes X5 hunting with new Touareg

Third-generation Volkswagen Touareg sees upmarket shift for brand’s halo model

3 Jun 2019

VOLKSWAGEN is benchmarking its all-new, third-generation Touareg large SUV against the segment’s heavy-hitters including the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, saying it can go toe-to-toe with its hot-selling compatriots.
Replacing the second-gen version that first arrived locally in mid-2011 with an update in 2015, Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) product marketing manager Jeff Shafer said the all-new version can compete with the best that the premium large SUV segment has to offer, and will attract customers from within and outside the brand.
“It’s got a high loyalty rate from within our range, but having said that I think it’s going to be looked at by a lot of people in that segment,” he said.
“The value that we can show in terms of what you get for your money is huge, and it’s not about compromising just to hit a price point, I think when you look at the features and the quality and level of luxury, it’s not a compromise at all. 
“It’s every bit as good as more traditional brands for luxury, but it can go toe-to-toe with BMW and Mercedes, no problem.”
VGA is launching the new Touareg with a single 190TDI Launch Edition, which will be superseded by two full-time specification grades, due to arrive locally by the end of the year.
The Launch Edition is priced from $89,990 plus on-road costs, which the brand points out is $900 cheaper than the outgoing TDI180 variant when equipped with the optional Driver Assistant pack.
It also undercuts key rivals in the premium large SUV segment including the BMW X5 30d ($112,990), Mercedes-Benz GLE350d ($110,300), Land Rover Discovery SD4 HSE ($99,750), Volvo XC90 Momentum ($93,900) and 200kW version of the Audi Q7 3.0TDI ($106,900).
All variants make use of Volkswagen Group’s widely-used 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine, which in Launch Edition guise produces 190kW at 4000rpm 600Nm of torque at 2200rpm, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Torque can be distributed up to 70 per cent to the front wheels and 80 per cent at the rear, with an electronic differential lock aiding traction.
The Launch Edition’s V6 sips a combined 7.4 litres of diesel per 100km/h, while carbon emissions are pegged at 194 grams of CO2 per km.
Further engine tunes are yet to be confirmed, however it is likely the 3.0-litre will be used across the range for the foreseeable future.
It is understood an entry-level version will eventually be introduced – likely in a 170kW/500Nm state of tune sold overseas – while a top-spec version could come in the form of the 210kW/600Nm 210TDI found in New Zealand.
Built on Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform that underpins the likes of the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, the new Touareg has gone on a 48 per cent aluminium diet and as such has trimmed down by 120kg to a 2086kg tare mass, despite increasing in size over second-gen version.
Measuring 4878mm long, 1984mm wide and 1686mm tall, the third-gen Touareg is 77mm longer, 44mm wider and 46mm lower to the ground, while its wheelbase is 5mm shorter at 2899mm.
On the new platform, luggage space is up considerably from 580 litres to 810L, increasing to 1800L with the rear seats folded (up from 1642L).
Air suspension is included as standard with a new system that uses pressurised ambient air in place of nitrogen, while steel springs will likely find their way into future entry-level versions.
Five-link MacPherson strut suspension is found on the front axle, with a five-link set-up at the rear.
Inside, the cabin features a 9.2-inch DiscoverPro touchscreen infotainment system, however for a considerable $8000, customers can option the Innovision system that combines a 15.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, ambient interior lighting and a scrolling volume dial, which Mr Shafer described as one of the biggest improvement over the previous generation.
“So the outgoing model was really strong as a chassis and engine, it towed really strongly and still felt quite premium, but the RNS – which is the navigation system – was really starting to show its age and it didn’t have the app connect for example, and the rest of the range did,” he said. 
“To contrast that with a vehicle equipped with the Innovision package with that 15-inch screen, that active info display that is so customisable, that for me is one of the big changes.”
Other interior features include heated, ventilated and massage front seats, Savona leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, tinted rear windows, wireless charging, ambient interior lighting and an electrically operated tailgate.
On the outside, the Touareg scores new intelligent IQ Light matrix LED headlights with 128 individual LED nodes per headlight, 20-inch Braga black alloy wheels and a Reef Blue Metallic paint exclusive to the Launch Edition. Other hues include Pure White, Silicone Grey Metallic and Deep Black Pearl Effect.
Safety systems extend to Front Assist with city autonomous emergency braking and predictive pedestrian monitoring, lane assist with adaptive lane guidance, park assist, traffic jam assist, emergency assist, side assist with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear cross-traffic assist, proactive occupant protection, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.
Options include the Innovision package at a considerable $8000, a panoramic sunroof at $3000 and metallic paint for $2000. More option packages will be offered once the Launch Edition is phased out.
Sales of the ageing, outgoing Touareg have plummeted with the new version around the corner, registering 105 sales to the end of April, down 75.3 per cent over the same period last year.
The Launch Edition is available for sale now from local Volkswagen dealers.

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