Klaus Bichoff, design manager at Volkswagen, was very clear in defining the concept for the new Touareg: “Design and technology are combined to perfection, creating a car that represents the new Volkswagen flagship”. With the demise of the Phaeton, this honour passed to the Touareg. This is the third generation of the model, and it has raised the bar for the technology it incorporates, more than ever before. It is about 8cm longer than the previous version, and it has a sleeker design. The front of the car conforms to the new immediately-recognizable brand style, in which the headlights flow into the grille, while the sides have a profile that flares over the rear wheel. But the really special effects start inside, with two displays, 12” and 15” for instrumentation and infotainment respectively,. The latter functions have been given the new term ‘innotainment’ in this car.
Buttons, switches and levers have almost completely disappeared, because the large touchscreen is used to control all the car’s functions. It is so big that a small portion of it can be sacrificed to the depiction of some fixed buttons. Everything can be adjusted, and the controls are all touch-operated with very high precision. When it comes to interior space, the loading capacity has increased from 697 to 810 litres, in part by means of the new platform made from a combination of aluminium (48%) and high-rigidity steels (52%) which has enabled weight savings amounting to about 100 kg with respect to the previous model. The car can incorporate a plug-in hybrid power plant, which is already available in China. In Italy on the other hand, the new Touareg is available only with the 3.0 V6 TDI diesel engine, in two power options, 231 and 286 horsepower, though initially it will be available only with the latter power plant. That was the version that I tested.
The 600 Nm of torque generated by the turbocharged diesel engine have to propel 2,070 kg, but the engine succeeds effortlessly. The driving experienced is enhanced by some optional features such as all-wheel steering, pneumatic suspension and active stabilizing bars that compensate for roll. The result is a smooth, ‘magic carpet’ ride that is appropriate for a flagship car such as this. The engine’s considerable power is perfectly controlled by the 4Motion four-wheel drive system, and by an advanced braking system of an appropriate capacity. In addition, the Touareg has some specific features for towing, rated at a braked towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes. It has an electrically-retractable towbar, and the useful Trailer Assist function. When you are towing and you have to reverse, all you have to do is stop, select reverse gear and press a button, enabling the car to steer automatically during the reversing manoeuvre. The new Touareg is available in two versions, Style and Advanced, which have a price difference of €11.000. The two engine options, the 231-horsepower 3.0 V6 TDI and the 286-horsepower version, are separated by €4,500. So the car starts from a price of €61,000 and reaches €76,500.
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