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Touareg starts VW fourward thrust

Four-whell drive: It's in Volkswagen's future.

Touareg is just the beginning for Volkswagen's 4WD ambitions

18 Feb 2002

VOLKSWAGEN'S foray into the four-wheel drive arena with the luxury Touareg will be followed by other entrants.

While the Touareg - named after a nomadic Middle-Eastern tribe - will take on the heavier end of the market, VW board of management member Dr Robert Buchelhofer has made it clear that was only the beginning.

He pointed to the Magellan "crossover" unveiled at Detroit as an example of what could be coming, saying a production decision on that vehicle would be made this year.

If given the thumbs-up, it could be on sale before 2005 in both right and left-hand drive.

"The whole off-road segment will definitely unfold further and whilst we enter this segment now with Touareg, there are more ideas because the segment will not disappear," Dr Buchelhofer told automotive e-news last week.

"Even if it does not grow further it will not disappear, so there are many, many opportunities for a brand like Volkswagen, based on the power of the brand, the size of the brand and the flexibility of the brand." As shown at Detroit, the Magellan is a six-seater powered by a 202kW W8 engine, has four-wheel drive with electronic differential locks, pneumatic suspension with active hydraulic shock absorbers and 19-inch wheels.

"Magellan is a very interesting concept, a cross-over estate car, very sporty - and reactions are very positive and the trend toward crossover seems to be strong and stable," Dr Buchelhofer said.

But he hinted strongly that there were more ideas in the pipeline, and they would not simply ape existing models offered by other manufacturers.

"I don't think copying things which are already around is the solution if you are later than others.

"You better show up with new concepts, or better quality, or better technology, or in the best case, everything be better," he said.

The Touareg, which debuts at the Paris show in September at the same time as its Porsche Cayenne sister-car, is set to become one of the fastest and most luxurious 4WDs on the planet.

Engine power will come from a choice of 315kW 6.0-litre W12 236kW 4.2-litre V8 and 180kW 3.2-litre V6 petrol engines, while turbo-diesel options include a 5.0-litre V10 with 750Nm and - in 2003 - 2.5-litre five-cylinder. The V10 and W8 are thought to be the favourites for Australian sale when the Touareg gets here in 2004.

On other future product, Dr Buchelhofer revealed the Microbus and Nardo supercar had still yet to be confirmed, that the Beetle convertible would definitely be launched this year, a Golf-based mini-MPV would soon be launched (due at the Paris motor show) and the company was investigating a replacement for the ageing Golf cabriolet.

Before that, VW will unveil its Benz S-class challenging Phaeton at this month's Geneva show.

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