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Which Volkswagen Touareg SUV is best for me?

  • The 286hp diesel is the only choice in the UK
  • Cheaper and pricier diesels, plus a petrol due in 2019
  • Plug-in hybrid model to follow on after that

Volkswagen Touareg: which is best for me?

Buying a Volkswagen Touareg in the UK will be straightforward initially: you only have the choice of the 286hp TDI V6 diesel. The lower-powered diesel, as well as a V8-powered TDI diesel will join the range in 2019, alongside a new 3.0-litre TSI V6 petrol.

Of more interest is the plug-in hybrid, which will follow later, and promises the usual PHEV benefits, allied with a potential 365hp maximum power. In reality, the V6 diesel is a great all-rounder, matching most users' needs.

However, the PHEV will come with tax benefits, and is likely to have strong appeal, as buyers continue to move away from diesels and into alternatively-fuelled cars. If you want a more rounded performer, it’s hard not to recommend the launch-spec 286hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

Volkswagen Touareg front end view


Driven: VW Touareg 3.0-litre TDI R-Line Tech

Tested July 2018 (Adam Binnie, New Cars Editor)

VW Touareg front

The Touareg is VW’s largest and most luxurious SUV, which has for 15 years been quietly providing a subtler alternative to the likes of the showier Range Rover Sport, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Thing is, the idea of a luxury Volkswagen – or ‘people’s car’ in German - seems a bit contradictory. Despite that, a flagship vehicle is an important tool for showing off new innovations, and that’s just what this new Touareg is - the pinnacle of VW’s current capability.

So, this is the people’s luxury SUV then – offering much of the tech (and more) you can enjoy in a Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q7, at a more reasonable price.

What tech?

Debuting on top spec R Line Tech cars like this (and optional on lower trims) is VW’s new Innovation Cockpit – comprising 12-inch digital dials and a 15-inch infotainment screen, arranged to look like one sweeping interface. In fact, they’re separated by a shutline to reduce the cost of replacing one of the screens, should it break, but the effect is very impressive.

VW Touareg interior

Screens in cars have been getting larger and larger over the years but even so, the Touareg’s set up is something to behold. It’s so big in fact that the main screen had to be tilted towards the driver, and its surface curved in order to enable those with shorter arms to reach its uppermost corner.

Ergonomically the menu layout has been given an uplift too – designed to work in a familiar way to smartphone or tablet, there is a permanent available home button and customisable layouts with a row of buttons where a combination of your 18 different favourite functions can be assigned.

The screen itself features a special surface that minimises fingerprints and there’s a swathe of chrome trim underneath, which not only echoes the design of the front grille, but gives you a place to rest your hand while scrolling through menus.

VW Touareg screen

While the Innovation Cockpit is largely button free, with even the climate controls migrated to the 15-inch screen, those resistant to touchscreen controls will be pleased to find a proper media volume dial in centre console. Still too advanced? The standard set up features a 9-inch infotainment screen with physical analogue dials.

What about driving tech?

There’s also some pretty advanced stuff used to mask the two tonne weight and circa five metre length of this car – namely active anti-roll bars, air suspension and all-wheel steering.

The former uses a 48-volt electrical system to deliver a previously mutually exclusive mix of taut body control and ride comfort, while the latter turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds to give you same turning circle as a Golf hatchback.

It’s impressively refined to drive and while it feels grippy and assured on the road, the Touareg is still a big car, and while that mass can be masked by technology, it can’t be fully overcome. A Cayenne beater this aint.

Air suspension promises a cushy ride with the option to raise the ground clearance of the Touareg by 70mm for enhanced off-road ability, or slam in down to the ground to ease loading and unloading of passengers or heavy items.

VW Touareg side

We found the 21-inch wheels on our R Line Tech car gave it a fidgety edge – certainly not uncomfortable, but you may want to investigate smaller wheels for the ultimate in waftability. Helping negate the effects of those wheels in our car are a set of optional 14-way ergoComfort seats with ventilation and massage function.

Do you get lots of driver assistance systems?

Yes – as well as (optional) redesigned matrix LED headlights you can also pay extra for a head up display the projects onto the windscreen.

Adaptive cruise control and lane assist are standard, as is park assist on all but the entry spec car but you’ll have to pay extra for the night vision camera, traffic jam assist and front cross traffic assist, the latter two making up part of the Driver’s Assistance Pack Plus.

If you’re into towing – an VW say 60% of Touareg owners are – you get a 3.5-tonne towing capacity and an optional Trailer Assist system which helps you reverse more easily and accurately.

What’s it like to drive?

As we mentioned before while this is a confident and assured car it’s not particularly rewarding to drive fast thanks to numb and at times unpredictable steering, plus on this model an automatic transmission that seems overly keen to drop several gears at a time in order to accelerate.

VW Touareg gearbox

Still, 0-62mph is over in a brisk 6.1 seconds thanks to 286hp at 3,500-4,000rpm and 600Nm of torque at rpm 2,250-3,250Nm. The top speed is 146mph, but you’ll need to be significantly slower than that if you want to achieve VW’s claimed 42.8mpg and 173g/km of CO2.

Those after better economy should look out for the lower-powered V6 diesel debuting later in 2018, or the hybrid model soon to arrive after.

Verdict

The Touareg has always been an understated alternative for the less badge-conscious SUV buyer – the new car adds extra desirability by offering you next-generation tech that was previously the reserve of substantially pricier cars.

VW Touareg rear

Volkswagen Touareg SUV model history

  • All-new third-generation model in 2018
  • Likely to remain in production a long time
  • Now the undisputed flagship of the VW range

Volkswagen Touareg: is it an up-to-date model?

June 2018 – Third-generation Volkswagen Touareg goes on sale in the UK with just one engine: the 286hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. The model line-up will be made up of SEL, R-Line and a new top-tier model known as R-Line Tech.

Buying and selling the Volkswagen Touareg SUV

Buying a new Volkswagen Touareg SUV

  • R-Line models likely to be most popular
  • Don't expect cash discounts, but work for best PCP deals
  • Some costly options won't pay you back when you sell

Buying a new Volkswagen Touareg

The Touareg has never been a big seller for Volkswagen, but it's popular and numerous enough to expect dealers competing for your business. This probably won't be the case in the months following the launch, but a more long-term view is that this will change.

You're probably best going for an SEL model to avoid the price going through the roof. Although the R-Line and R-Line Tech are probably going to be the most popular models. Bear in mind that a specced-up SEL is likely to cost more than a standard R-Line Tech, do take time to play with the configurator, and get the best price.

If not there already, you should spec the Car App connectivity suite for the infotainment system. Not only will it benefit you but it will be really useful for subsequent owners.


Buying a used Volkswagen Touareg SUV

  • Supplies of this car will be limited until 2020
  • Don't pay a premium in the short term
  • Consider casting your net further afield

Buying a used Volkswagen Touareg

Stocks of used models will take time to build up, with the first examples being limited to Volkswagen dealerships. Supplies will be limited for a while, so if you have your heart set on one, you probably can't afford to be too picky about colour and specification.

With that in mind it’s worth taking time to find exactly the specification you’re looking for, so have a good trawl through our Equipment section to get your head around what was available when new. Test all interior fixtures and fittings for rattles and damage, and ensure all electric systems work as they should.

As ever, carry out a Parkers Car History Check to uncover any hidden nasties.

Sell your car with Parkers Selling your Volkswagen Touareg SUV

A comprehensive advert will be your best friend here. List every relevant bit of spec and all optional extras so that people know what they’re coming to look at.

Take lots of clear, high-quality pictures but make sure you clean the car thoroughly first. A professional valet may be sensible if it’s particularly dirty.

To find out exactly what your car is worth, carrying out a mileage and optional extras-adjusted valuation from Parkers. To learn more about selling your car, click on the Parkers' seven-steps to selling your car article.