Impressively luxurious full-size SUV majors on comfort and tech
- Impressive luxury-car refinement
- Clever new multimedia system
- Adaptable handling characteristics
- 3.5-tonne towing capacity
- No seven-seat option
- No hybrid yet, one diesel offered
- There's no disguising its bulk on the road
- Another entry in a crowded market sector
Volkswagen is keen to remind buyers that the Touareg SUV is now, and will always be, its flagship car. It's always been an imposing technical marvel, but since the departure of the Phaeton (remember that?), it sits alone at the top of the VW price list – and up against some very impressive rivals.
Considering this opposition includes the Audi Q7, the BMW X5, the Land Rover Discovery and the Mercedes-Benz GLE, it's understandable that Volkswagen has thrown its developmental kitchen sink at this car. This explains why it has packed the new Touareg with a range of newly-introduced technology to make it the sharpest driving, most tech-laden vehicle it offers.
On paper, it looks like the Touareg is more than capable of answering the questions posed by its rivals, as well as its interesting, but discontinued Phaeton saloon in-house alternative.
Volkswagen Touareg: bold styling and engineering
The new Touareg is wider and longer than the outgoing car, but boot space grows from 697 litres to 810, and there's more room for passengers, too. The good news is that the new Touareg's body is 106kg lighter than the old one.
The third-generation VW Touareg receives an extensive package of all-new technology inside and out. The new look more than hints at the smaller VW T-Roc, while the interior takes a huge step forward over what came before. In the metal, it disguises its bulk very effectively, and has the air of a less-imposing baby Bentley Bentayga about it.
The big news is that the new interior's centrepiece is what VW calls its Innovision Cockpit. This is dominated by a 12.0-inch digital instrument display that we’ve already seen in other VW models. This is combined with another even larger display (up to 15.0 inches) in the centre of the dashboard.
Other state-of-the-art technology includes a new roadwork lane assist system, cross-traffic warnings, four-wheel steering, active lighting and cornering roll stabilisation. The height-adjustable active air suspension system and all-wheel steering promise to combine to make this an agile car on the road.
It's an inherently safe car, as confirmed by its five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating in autumn 2018.
There is no seven-seat option (there never has been on the Touareg), unlike its principal rivals, the Audi Q7 or Land Rover Discovery. The interior is a masterclass of quality materials and precision-fit assembly.
VW Touareg: engine options
The Touareg launched with a 286hp 3.0-litre diesel motor, and Autumn 2018 sees a 231hp version of the same engine added to the range.
Your only gearbox option is an eight-speed automatic Tiptronic, while all cars get 4Motion four-wheel drive as standard. The launch model also boasts a 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity, which is the most any car is allowed to have under UK law.
We're expecting a 340hp petrol engine to arrive in VW dealerships in early 2019.
A 367hp plug-in hybrid powertrain will join the line-up at some point too, but at time of writing VW is remaining tight-lipped on when it'll reach Europe. China will get this model first.
Volkswagen offered a relatively strong PCP deal from launch, reflecting the way most people obtain cars nowadays. It was set out as below:
- £3,000 deposit contribution
- £10,459 deposit
- £499 monthly payments over 47 months
- 3.29% APR
- Two services can be included for £299
The Parkers Verdict
Based on our early drive of the new Touareg, and the confirmed tech and spec, it feels like a big leap forward over what came before. Its refinement and lack of noise are impressive, and combined with a compliant ride and superb seats, places this firmly in the luxury sector of the SUV market.
Overall, it's a big step over its predecessor, and it's going to cause the makers of its closest rivals, the Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes-Benz GLE, some sleepless nights. The Touareg's motorway talent, high quality, tastefully-designed interior, and supreme comfort, see it competing for overall class honours.
We'll have to wait and see how it drives on UK roads to see if they've actually pulled it off.