Volk­swa­gen Touareg 3,0 V6 TDI Ex­ec­u­tive R-line 4Motion AT

The next gen­er­a­tion of Volk­swa­gen’s lux­ury SUV has ar­rived. Can it shake its peren­nial also-ran rep­u­ta­tion in this seg­ment?

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

THE Volk­swa­gen Group may be known as the maker of peo­ple’s cars but it has also pro­duced a few no­tably ex­treme ones. Think of the Bu­gatti Vey­ron and W12 Phaeton grand sa­loon, plus the 5,0 TDI V10 ver­sion of the rst Touareg (there was even a lim­ited-run W12 petrol); all projects driven by the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous head, en­gi­neer Fer­di­nand Piëch. Fast-for­ward to 2018 and we now wit­ness the in­tro­duc­tion of the third-gen­er­a­tion Touareg, an SUV based on the Volk­swa­gen Group’s MLB plat­form. As you may know, it un­der­pins a num­ber of sim­i­larly sized ve­hi­cles in the com­pany’s sta­ble, in­clud­ing the Bent­ley Ben­tayga, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and even the Lam­borgh­ini Urus su­per-suv (with ob­vi­ous chas­sis­setup dif­fer­ences be­tween them).

The new Touareg is an un­de­ni­ably stylish ve­hi­cle with an im­pos­ing grille dom­i­nated by a se­ries of bold, chromed lou­vres. Side-on – both in de­sign and sil­hou­ette – the DNA it shares with the Q7 is clearly ev­i­dent in a rel­a­tively low, long stance. It’s only the rear that ar­guably looks mun­dane, with slim rear lights which don’t quite have the char­ac­ter of those tted to its smaller Tiguan sib­ling.

Climb in­side and, much like the new Ar­teon, the de­sign of the grille is echoed through to the Touareg dash­board. And it’s a dash dom­i­nated by some of the largest in­fo­tain­ment screens in the busi­ness. Called the In­no­vi­sion Cock­pit, this R74 000 op­tional ex­tra com­prises a 12-inch vir­tual bin­na­cle clus­ter and a 15-inch cen­tral dis­play. With a fa­cia tilted

to the driver, there is an enor­mous sense of oc­ca­sion when you start the car and the crisply de­fined in­ter­face switches on. It over­sees a wealth of an­cil­lary func­tions, in­clud­ing cli­mate con­trols and all man­ner of me­dia and ve­hi­cle set­tings in be­tween.

Ahead of the steer­ing wheel, a sec­ond screen shows the in­stru­men­ta­tion, as well as a sum­mary of the in­for­ma­tion con­tained on the larger screen. As in­tu­itive as the sys­tem’s lay­out is, it does take a few days to learn all the short­cuts and to fully utilise the range of func­tions and fea­tures. Also, us­ing it on the go takes up time be­cause there’s no place to rest your hand to keep it steady. A quirky ad­di­tion to the sat-nav mode is a dis­play that shows the num­ber of satel­lites the car is con­nected to, plus your alti­tude.

The per­ceived qual­ity through­out the cabin is read­ily ap­par­ent, from the tac­tile so­lid­ity of the (ad­mit­tedly few) but­tons to the soft-touch ar­eas along the top half of the cabin. Lower down, on sur­faces which will re­ceive more wear and tear, the plas­tics are harder and more ex­ten­sive than you’ll find in the Touareg’s ri­vals.

The elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats are fan­tas­ti­cally com­fort­able, and so too are those in the sec­ond row, where there’s co­pi­ous amounts of leg-, headand shoul­der­room.

Open­ing the elec­tric tail­gate to a size­able 400-litre boot re­vealed our test car to be equipped with the handy op­tional cargo pack­age of­fer­ing a net par­ti­tion, mat, vari­able-height floor, lug­gage net and roll-up sun­screen for rear side win­dows. It’s not cheap at R6 850 but the sys­tem feels sturdy and is a dod­dle to use.

This flag­ship Ex­ec­u­tive model (sup­ple­mented with a Lux­ury de­riv­a­tive) comes stan­dard with height-ad­justable air sus­pen­sion. It also of­fers seven dif­fer­ent drive modes tai­lored to var­i­ous onand off-road ter­rains.

In the com­fort set­ting, the Touareg dis­plays a soft, floaty ride akin to older grand sa­loons, the com­fort lev­els fur­ther aided

by those ex­cel­lent er­go­com­fort seats and supreme lev­els of re­fine­ment. Our press unit was fit­ted with 20-inch wheels that are just about the right size for a big SUV; the 285/45s front and rear have a high-enough pro­file to jug­gle both com­fort and lat­eral-sta­bil­ity re­quire­ments.

Up front, the V6 twin­tur­bod­iesel de­liv­ers 190 kw and 600 N.m. of twist and, even though the Touareg tips the scales at 2 212 kg (fully fu­elled), the en­gine of­fers a wide per­for­mance en­ve­lope for good in-gear ac­cel­er­a­tion times as well as brisk off-the-line sprint­ing. The slick-shift­ing eight-speed torque­con­verter trans­mis­sion is per­fect for an ap­pli­ca­tion such as this, where su­per-quick dual-clutch swaps aren’t re­quired. A mi­nor crit­i­cism is a de­lay in get-go from the en­gine when pulling away from stand­still. Once go­ing, the re­sponse is more im­me­di­ate.

On our grippy test strip, the Touareg hit 100 km/h from stand­still in just 7,22 sec­onds, while the stop­pers also im­pressed in our brak­ing test. Con­tribut­ing to an ex­cel­lent av­er­age of 2,80 sec­onds across 10 emer­gency ma­noeu­vres was one sports car­rivalling 2,61- sec­ond stop.

This ve­hi­cle is fit­ted with the Ad­vanced Safety Pack­age (R59 150) in­clud­ing lane as­sist, side as­sist and night vi­sion with head-up dis­play. How­ever, it’s only re­ally the lat­ter that’s of ben­e­fit to a South African driver be­cause the sys­tem clev­erly high­lights pedes­tri­ans in low-

light con­di­tions; an alarm sounds and there’s a vis­ual in­di­ca­tion on the in­stru­ment screen where the night vi­sion points out where the pedes­trian is, with said per­son re­ceiv­ing an au­to­matic ash of the head­lamps. And this is not merely at low speed, ei­ther; the sys­tem works even when the car is driv­ing at high­way speeds. All the sup­ple­men­tary safety sys­tems can be dis­en­gaged but, an­noy­ingly, the in­tru­sive lane­as­sist sys­tem switches it­self back on every time the en­gine is restarted.

TEST SUM­MARY

In the com­pany of the Big Three’s es­tab­lished pre­mium SUVS, plus those from Volvo, Porsche, Land Rover and Lexus, past gen­er­a­tions of VW’S Touareg suf­fered – some­what un­justly, it must be said – from side­line syn­drome. This lat­est model, how­ever, should rmly lay that sen­ti­ment to rest. The new Touareg is one of the lead­ers, it is that good. It might not be as dy­namic as a Cayenne but it has a level of re ne­ment, tech­nol­ogy and com­fort mak­ing it a force with which to reckon.

We do have reser­va­tions about its pric­ing rel­a­tive to the Audi Q7. The In­gol­stadt prod­uct is sat­is­fy­ingly so­phis­ti­cated and less ex­pen­sive than this Ex­ec­u­tive model (there’s just one Audi de­riv­a­tive). Yes, it isn’t quite as well equipped, and its in­fo­tain­ment tech­nol­ogy looks de­cid­edly old-school against a Touareg equipped with the pricey In­no­vi­sion op­tion. But the Audi comes with a more il­lus­tri­ous badge and a cabin that boasts even higher per­ceived-qual­ity lev­els.

To that end, our rec­om­men­da­tion would be the Touareg Lux­ury at R999 800, which shares all of the SUV’S vast range of ad­mirable at­tributes at a price that makes it even more ir­re­sistible.

Beau­ti­fully crafted and im­pres­sively re­fined. I hope it gets more at­ten­tion than pre­vi­ous mod­els Gareth Dean

A bril­liant evo­lu­tion of one of the most un­der­rated SUVS on the mar­ket Ian Mclaren

be­low Touareg uses the same plat­form as the Bent­ley Ben­tayga, Porsche Cayenne and Lam­borgh­ini Urus. op­po­site Stan­dard-fit LED head­lamps and DRLS neatly in­te­grated into the chrome grille.

Up there with the best in terms of re­fine­ment and qual­ity Steve Smith

clock­wise from above Mod­els without the In­no­vi­sion Cock­pit boast a smaller cen­tral screen and con­ven­tional in­stru­men­ta­tion; tail­gate op­er­a­tion elec­tric; seats are sub­limely comfy; seven driv­e­train set­tings.

The Touareg’s least dis­tinc­tive an­gle, but still the de­tail­ing is su­perb and those wide-set ex­haust out­lets give it a squat ap­pear­ance.

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