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What is the Volkswagen Touareg?

The Touareg is the largest vehicle in Volkswagen’s ever-expanding SUV range, which now includes the T-Cross, T-Roc and Tiguan. Now in its third generation and, these days, is also the firm’s range-topping model.

Only one version costs less than £50,000 and it is easy to take the list price beyond £60,000 with options. However, the big VW has the engineering credentials to justify this: it is derived from the same architecture that underpins the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Bentley Bentayga. Key rivals include the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC90.

At-a-glance 2019 Volkswagen Touareg specs

  • Top-speed: 135-155mph
  • 0-62mph: 7.5-5.9 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 24.6-35.9mpg
  • Emissions: 173-203g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 810-1,800 litres

Which versions of the Volkswagen Touareg are available?

At launch, the Volkswagen Touareg was only available with a single 3.0-litre TDI V6 engine, producing either 231hp or 286hp. More recently, a petrol alternative has been introduced, a 3.0-litre TSI V6 producing 340hp. All models are four-wheel drive and have an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The pinnacle of Volkswagen’s car range is available in suitably upmarket trim variants: SEL, R-Line and R-Line Tech. A plug-in hybrid Touareg is expected at some point, but its arrival has not yet been confirmed. Those looking to cut their fuel (or tax) bills may prefer to hold on until it arrives.

The Volkswagen Touareg is not available in a bona fide performance derivative, but the 3.0 TSI 340hp petrol V6 is an intriguing Q-car. It is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, which is faster than a Golf GTI hot hatch, and it has a (restricted) top speed of 155mph. R-Line trim brings standard sport suspension and gives a reasonably racy look – as sporty as the Touareg is ever likely to be.

We should not expect an R version, as Volkswagen is unlikely to follow up earlier performance models such as the Touareg R50, which used a massive 5.0-litre V10 TDI engine.

Volkswagen Touareg styling and engineering

The Touareg certainly stands out. It is almost 4.9 metres long, nearly two metres wide – and is made even more imposing by the latest trademark VW full-width chrome grille. A distinctive LED running light pattern adds further to the effect. The appearance is also luxurious, though, with some nicely crafted details and elegant curves.

Its interior is built to a luxury-grade level and, in top-spec R-Line Tech trim, equipped with a large-format touchscreen dashboard called Innovision Cockpit. It is Volkswagen’s answer to the Tesla Model X. The cabin is optimised for five people and there is an abundance of space and comfort for everyone, plus a gigantic boot that exceeds 800 litres even with the rear seats in place.

Underneath, the Touareg uses the VW Group MLB vehicle architecture that, as mentioned, is also used by the Q7 and Cayenne. It’s thanks to this that Volkswagen is able to offer so many high-tech features on the Touareg.

How does the Volkswagen Touareg drive?

The Volkswagen Touareg is an extremely convincing luxury SUV. It is a car that punches well above its relatively mainstream badge, and could convincingly pass as a premium machine. Refinement is exceptional, the ride quality is pillowy and absorbent, and the 3.0-litre TDI engine is beautifully smooth-running and effortlessly powerful. It is an exemplary long-distance cruiser. The automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and the car corners with composure and confidence, if not with any real enthusiast-rousing feedback.

The TDI suits the Touareg better overall, although if you’re after the ultimate in inner-city refinement, the sheer hushed smoothness of the petrol alternative swells its luxury credentials even further.

How much does the Volkswagen Touareg cost?

The basic Touareg SEL 3.0 TDI V6 231hp is priced from £47,800, with the more powerful 286hp alternative priced £2,600 higher at £50,400. The most expensive engine is the 3.0 TSI 340, costing £51,340 in entry-level SEL guise. The equipment spec is hardly entry-level, mind: 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights, leather seats, adaptive cruise control and a 9.2-inch touchscreen are standard. R-Line trim is £3,500 more and adds 20-inch alloys, sport suspension, rear-view camera and four-zone climate control. R-Line Tech is an extra £3,100 and has indulgent ErgoComfort front seats and the 15-inch TFT central touchscreen that adds real wow-factor.

Discover what Touareg drivers think of their Volkswagens with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

Volkswagen Touareg Model History

Second-generation Volkswagen Touareg (2010-2018) 

Volkswagen Touareg Mk2

The second-generation Touareg was, visually, an evolution of the original, with a much higher quality interior and an even bigger haul of modern tech. The engine range wasn’t quite as extreme, but still included a 4.2-litre V8 TDI, although the UK preferred the 3.0-litre V6 TDI.

A Touareg Hybrid was available, which used a small electric motor combined with a supercharged V6 engine. It was of limited appeal, with most buyers sticking with the V6 TDI. An anorak fact is that the second-generation Touareg was the world’s first car to have automatic high-beam headlights.

Find used examples for sale and pore over our user-generated Mk2 Touareg owners' reviews.

First-generation Volkswagen Touareg (2003-2010) 

Volkswagen Touareg Mk1

The first-generation Volkswagen Touareg was introduced in 2003 as the most affordable version of an architecture that also spawned the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. It offered a broad range of engines, including some surprisingly extreme ones; the 6.0-litre W12 from the Bentley Continental GT was available, as was a 5.0-litre V10 TDI.

A mild facelift in 2007 softened the styling and introduced extra safety technology. All diesel models were now fitted with a particulate filter.

Have a look at used Touaregs for sale and find out more about them with our Mk1 owners' reviews.