The next gen­er­a­tion

Volk­swa­gen’s Touareg flag­ship SUV ben­e­fits from a big in­jec­tion of style, tech­nol­ogy and pres­tige, which has done won­ders for its im­age

EADT Suffolk - - FINANCE - WORDS: Andy Rus­sell

Ial­ways felt Volk­swa­gen’s large Touareg SUV was stuck be­tween a rock and a hard place when it came to im­age – ex­pen­sive to be classed as a work­horse, but lack­ing the pres­tige im­age of classy ri­vals. Now the third-gen­er­a­tion de­liv­ers as its flag­ship SUV.

The bul­bous styling, and wheels that looked lost in the arches, make way for a bolder look. Longer, wider and lower, it picks up the strong, an­gu­lar lines of the smaller Tiguan, em­pha­sis­ing its width so looks more im­pos­ing and a classy con­tender.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

The 231 and 286PS, V6 3.0-litre turbo diesels will be the core, both with eight- speed au­to­matic and per­ma­nent all-wheel drive with on and off-road and snow modes.

The more pow­er­ful V6 diesel will be the best seller and, with 600Nm of torque, of­fers lusty, low-down pull, ef­fort­less mid-range punch, storm­ing top-end per­for­mance and re­turned 35mpg over­all, 40mpg on a run.

HOW IT DRIVES

For a large SUV, the Touareg is sur­pris­ingly good and, even with the R-Line mod­els’ 20in wheels and sports sus­pen­sion, soaks up big bumps so, with noise lev­els also well muted, this is a mighty com­fort­able cruiser. It also han­dles well, but on small, twisty roads, the sheer size is the lim­it­ing fac­tor.

Selectable driv­ing modes also tune the shock ab­sorbers air sus­pen­sion with elec­tronic damp­ing con­trol – all-wheel steer­ing and elec­tro me­chanic ally con­trolled anti-roll bars are op­tional.

SPACE AND COM­FORT

The Touareg only seats five, but with oo­dles of head and legroom, and rear seats slide 160mm and back­rests re­cline through three an­gles. Four-zone cli­mate con­trol means no pas­sen­gers will feel the heat. The boot ranges from 697 to 810 litres, ris­ing to 1,800 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seats folded flat.

The cabin looks classy with soft trim high up on dash and doors, but the hard plas­tics lower down, even on the cen­tre con­sole, are a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing.

AT THE WHEEL

The Touareg de­buts Volk­swa­gen’s new in­no­vi­sion cock­pit with its cus­tomis­able 12in dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play, to pri­ori­tise driver data, and a 15in in­fo­tain­ment touch­screen to cre­ate a wide, panoramic con­trol cen­tre. Once you’re au fait with the var­i­ous menus it’s easy to nav­i­gate, even on the move. A high-rise driv­ing po­si­tion and large win­dows give good vis­i­bil­ity, which along with park­ing sen­sors and, on R-Line, rear-view cam­era and park­ing as­sist, make ma­noeu­vring in tight spa­ces straight­for­ward.

FI­NAL SAY

This Touareg is a huge step for­ward when it comes to style, kit, tech­nol­ogy and, im­por­tantly, pres­tige im­age. It’s good enough to mix it with the high-spec ex­ecs, but it re­mains to be seen if the Volk­swa­gen badge will com­mand the pric­ing. N

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