- 3.0-litre V6 TDI only from lauch
- Punchy performance, excellent refinement
- Relaxed, rather than exciting, delivery
The 3.0-litre TDI diesel V6 under the bonnect of the Touareg is all-new, and it feels it. Refinement is impressive, and VW claims a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds with a maximum speed of 146mph.
That's an impressive set of numbers for what will – in effect – be VW's second-from-bottom of the range Touareg. It doesn't feel that quick when you drive it for the first time, and you can put that down to a couple of factors: it feels a little sleepy to accelerate unless you're in Sport mode, and it's so refined, it does tend to mask its speed.
What other engines are available?
Disappointingly for eco-conscious Europeans, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Touareg goes on sale in China first, but no UK on-sale date has been set. That's a shame because the 365hp hybrid looks extremely interesting.
In fact, when the car goes on sale in the UK in July 2018, it will be offered with only a single engine option until production ramps up. That engine will be the new 3.0-litre TDI V6 diesel, which develops 286hp and 600Nm of pulling power.
Volkswagen says that a lower-powered 231hp version of this engine will be added in the spring of 2019, along with a 340hp TSI V6 petrol. A 420hp TDI V8 turbodiesel will follow later.
- This is a two-tonne car, and you won't forget it
- Body roll is nicely contained
- It's hard to place on narrow roads
Once familiar with the Touareg, you can play with the various drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Normal and Off-Road.
Rear-wheel steering points the back wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed to help manoeuvring and parking, and in the same direction at high speed to aid stability. This system really comes into its own in town, giving this full-size SUV a turning circle similar in size to a Golf, while on the motorway, it makes quick lane changes feel safer.
But on A- and B-roads, it feels like the large car it is, and you don't get the sense of agility that you'd hope for (and do get in a Range Rover Sport). The handling and steering are both excellent, but there's a heaviness and feeling of unweildiness that you can never escape from – so, it always feels like you're piloting a two-tonne-plus vehicle.
- Innovision Cockpit is clear and easy to use
- Well-equipped and packed with tech
- Build and trim quality are very impressive
Your view from behind the wheel is dominated by what VW calls its Innovision Cockpit set-up. It's a pair of screens running from the instrument binnacle and right across the dash and, currently, nothing in its class comes close in terms of scale or sophistication.
Being able to group all of this technology behind a screen means the cabin is now clutter-free and elegantly realised with lots of airy space.
The Innovision system takes a leap forward in usability for three principle reasons: finally a car touchscreen operates as your phone might, swiping quickly and pinching accurately.
What the Innovision Cockpit dashboard is like to use
Tiles can be personalised easily to arrange your key data into sections. Because of the acreage, virtual function buttons are easy to access without the need to guide your finger home.
In a nutshell, it's a warm, friendly place to spend time, with big, comfortable multi-adjustable seats, and there's a huge amount of room to play with. But given the car's generous external dimensions, this shouldn't be a surprise.
- Ride quality on motorways is superb
- Seats are well-shaped and supportive
- Some pitter-patter on potholed roads
The overall refinement and low levels of mechanical noise are what dominate your first impressions, and that colour your overall perception of the comfort of the car. Up front, the driver's seat is supportive and large, and comes with a massive range of adjustment.
We raise this point because on a car that's tuned for cosseting motorway driving, this is very clearly important. Once underway, you'll be impressed by how compliant the ride quality is, and how this car compresses distances by being so effortlessly comfortable.
And so it should be – our model was fitted with active air suspension and weighs in at a bump-flattening 2,045kg. Aside from some pattering on broken urban roads and potholes, it's impressively smooth and flat – in short, this isn't so much a go-anywhere SUV, as a high-riding luxury car.