Volkswagen Touareg £50,000 approx.
WE SAY: VW DITCHES OFF-ROAD CAPABILITY FOR A TECH MAKEOVER TO BRING THE FIGHT TO ITS RIVALS
When the Touareg was launched, VW was bombarding us with potty torque figures. Now it’s tech. For its MkIII, the flagship has sacrificed its off-roadiness to become more of a premium, hi-tech SUV. Using the same MLB Evo architecture as the Cayenne, Q7, Bentayga and Urus, the car has increased in size but dropped 106kg thanks to aluminium suspension, plus a body that’s largely aluminium too. Being 44mm wider, 77mm longer and lower than the MkII, it’s a bit easier on the eye. The somewhat dumpy looks have been sharpened up with more powerful, svelte lines.
But it’s inside where the engineers have gone to town. It’s one of the biggest cabin overhauls from VW in decades, repositioning the Touareg entirely and bringing it bang in-line and even ahead of its fiercest competitors. Some interior materials feel like they’ve suffered in quality to help finance the “fully digitised Innovision Cockpit”, or as you and I would call it, two enormous screens stitched together to look like one big one. But you’ll forgive them, as the whole thing looks fantastic and is easy to use. There’s also a tech artillery to back it up. Hardware like Night Vision to detect humans and animals in darkness via a thermal-imaging camera; Roadwork Lane Assist, to steer, brake and accelerate for you up to 60kph; 4WS to make it feel nimbler than it actually is; activeroll stabilisation, to magically reduce body roll and hide the porky 1,995 kg kerbweight.
For now, we’ll have to make do with a pair of V6 diesels: 228bhp or 282bhp. Soon, we’ll see a 335bhp V6 petrol and a 415bhp 4.0-litre V8 TD. The Chinese (its biggest market) have the option of a 362bhp plug-in hybrid version – although it’s inconceivable it won’t be offered in Europe. Shame, then, the variable steering rack is gloopy and overly light leading to a lack of feel. And you can no longer spec a rear locking diff. But, fully loaded, it’s a proper tech powerhouse and a flagship VW can be proud of. ROWAN HORNCASTLE
VERDICT:SPECIFICATION2967cc, V6 diesel, AWD, 282bhp, 600Nm6.9L/100km, 182g/km CO2 0–100kph in 6.1secs, 238kph 1995kg
The Volkswagen is just as good as rivals, with a high-tech interior plus engines for all situations.