First Drive: Volkswagen Touareg
Sector: Large SUV Price: £43,000–£47,500 Fuel: 40.9mpg–42.8mpg CO2: 173–180g/km
You might be amazed to learn that the fleet market gobbles up 77% of all the Touaregs sold in the UK. Clearly it’s a favourite of corporate buyers, and it’s just been updated with a mid-term facelift. The grille has been restyled, as have the bumpers, both front and rear, none of which are hardly worth a mention, yet the introduction of a new and more efficient version of the 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine does demand further discussion.
It’s Euro 6 compliant and available in a choice of two outputs. Engine Stop/Start and battery regeneration technology comes as standard on both, with a coasting function fitted to the eight-speed automatic gearbox, that decouples the engine from the gearbox for better efficiencies. And, whilst on the subject of efficiencies, the smaller of the two outputs, the 201bhp, has had its emissions reduced by 11g/km to 173g/km, putting it in a lower VED band and making for a 2% BiK reduction. Economy is better too, improved by 2.4mpg to 42.8mpg.
Although the higher-powered 258bhp version – up from the previous 241bhp – also shows cuts in emissions, down by 15g/gm to 174g/km, with 40.9mpg, there seems little reason to choose this one over the 201bhp. The difference in performance 0-62mph figures are negligible; 8.7 seconds compared to 7.3 seconds of the 258bhp, and unless it’s going to be used for serious hauling or off-roading no one is going to miss the extra power.
Like all premium SUVs vying at this end of the market, the Touareg tries to make a case for itself by creating a sense of exclusivity. There’s now a choice of wood trims – either “Sapelli Mahogany” or “Engineering Ebony” – while the seats are covered in “cricket” leather upholstery. The switches and knobs have been upgraded too; replacing the old plastic ones with little pieces of turned-aluminium art. An 8-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard and becomes the control centre for things like SatNav, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and 2Zone climate control, all of which come as part of standard package.
Volkswagen has also upped the safety equipment too. Front and Lane Assist are now supported by Side Assist and Sign Assist, and the cruise control profits from radar-controlled stop and go. The bi-xenon headlights (another new standard feature) receive Dynamic Lights assist, which automatically dims full-beam when it detects an oncoming vehicle.
All of the above, however, does come at a cost (the clue here is in the word “premium”), and if you take the Touareg in its not-so-basic form, as the 3.0 V6 201bhp SE, then expect to pay £43,000. Opt for the best selling R-Line trim, and that price will move nearer the £47,000 mark.
The Touareg is compelling on so many different levels. It offers the sort of luxury expected at this end of the market, and, equally as important, is more than accomplished both off and on road.
The one facet the Touareg holds above and beyond its market rival is exactly the same beguiling