The new Volkswagen Touareg’s 4x4 capabilities may have been somewhat diluted, but you’ll search far and wide for a more versatile towing vehicle.
Volkswagen recently released the third generation of their Touareg, and they claim that when it comes to technology, this flagship SUV is their most advanced vehicle yet. When you hop in behind the wheel, you know exactly what they mean. For some time now, Volkswagen have made use of the Active Info Display instrument panel, which is an entirely digital display. But the Germans have now improved upon this with a larger, additional screen. This screen is in front of the driver, and extends to the left – forming a unit of over half a metre in length. It makes you feel like you’re captaining a spaceship from a sci-fi movie, and clearly the suits at Volkswagen agree, because they’ve dubbed it the “Innovision Cockpit”.
And with the Touareg’s towing capacity, nothing is lacking. In fact, it’s lighter than its predecessor, which was available in several engine options (from a 3,6 ℓ petrol engine to the 3 ℓ and a 4,2 ℓ diesel engine). Today you can choose from just two models, both with the 3 ℓ diesel engine that kicks out 190 kW and 600 Nm – that’s 10 kW and 50 Nm more than the previous 3 ℓ engine.
And then there’s the Touareg’s tow bar, which was previously optional, but now comes standard on both models.
The welcome wagon
The towing capability of the 3 ℓ model that we tested three years ago was set at 3,5 t, with a maximum nose weight of 140 kg. The new Touareg’s figures look the same, but the new model’s Bosal tow bar deploys electrically. The tow bar is tucked away behind the bumper, and when you push the button at the back right of the boot, the tow bar swings out and locks into position. This whole action takes 8 seconds (when stowing itself under the bumper, it requires 9 seconds). The hitch itself has a D-value (which refers to a specific load test) of 16,4 kN, which is comparable to 1 672 kg.
A computer detects when you’ve hitched a caravan – the alarm system even keeps an eye on it when activated. But if your trailer has LED rear lights, the alarm won’t be set off if someone tries to detach your trailer or caravan. According to the Volkswagen manual, the reason for this is “of a technical nature” (read: because we say so – Ed). When you connect the caravan’s plug to the socket, the onboard computer’s blind spot sensors and the reverse camera sensors that warn you of cross traffic are both >
As expected, the Touareg is kitted out with Trailer Sway Control. There are a few things that need to be in place before this system works the way the engineers intended: your caravan must be equipped with overrun brakes; the nose weight must be the prescribed maximum weight on the ball of the tow bar; and you need to tow faster than 60 km/h.
The Touareg’s Trailer Assist system (a system that we also encountered in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Arteon) comes in handy when you need to reverse a caravan down a tight alley.
Both models are automatic, but Volkswagen have done away with the traditional gear selector. The new gear shift has a flat head and is about as wide as the palm of your hand, but the shaft doesn’t slide back and forth; you push the head forward if you want to change from Park to Neutral or Reverse, and pull it back if you want to put the gearbox into Drive. You push the button on the right of the lever when shifting gears, and press another button to put the vehicle into Park.
When you switch off the Touareg in any of the gears (except for Neutral), the gearbox automatically puts it into Park. And if you switch the Touareg off in Neutral, it stays in this mode for 30 minutes before automatically switching to Park.
The Touareg that we towed with had four height settings for the air suspension – the button for this is also in the centre panel by the gear lever. For towing, Volkswagen recommends the Street ride height.
The Touareg also has seven ride modes, including Eco, Comfort, Sport and Off-road. For example, if the suspension is set to Street height, and the ride mode is on Comfort, the air suspension will automatically drop when
VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 3.0 TDI EXECUTIVE
SPORTY SPICE. The R-Line package offers a bit extra over a standard Touareg. The white stitching on the seats, the special emblems and trick alloys speak of a playful nature rather than a conservative approach.