True, it can’t offer more than five seats, but then neither can key rivals like BMW’s X5, Mercedes’ GLE-Class, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, the Lexus RX or Porsche’s Cayenne. If you’re looking at one of those contenders in this segment, then this under-rated Touareg offers a very complete package with a value proposition that could prove hard to resist.
You tend to approach a drive in a two-tonne luxury SUV with certain preconceptions – two in particular. There’ll be a luxuriously commanding high-set driving position – which is certainly the case here. And the car will be heavy and ponderous when it comes to twisty roads – which is where this Volkswagen has a few surprises in store. No, it’s not BMW X5-like in its ability to iron out the bends on a twisty B road but it’s far more capable on the tarmac than you’d ever expect a vehicle to be that can handle wilderness trails the Bavarian model couldn’t even think about attempting.
All Touaregs get 3. 0 V6 TDI power these days, this diesel unit solely matched to permanent 4WD and an old-school eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox. This engine comes in two states of tune: there’s an entry-level 204PS version with 450Nm of torque that manages 62mph from rest in 8. 7s on the way to 128mph. And the powerplant over 80% of users here choose, the 262PS unit with a thumping 580Nm of torque.
Whatever Touareg you choose, the ground clearance and climbing ability you get can be dramatically improved if you specify the optional air suspension system. This gives you a selectable, higher ‘Raised’ mode that can set your Touareg as much as 286mm off the deck.
For most, the straightforward ‘4MOTION’ 4WD system you get on the standard models will be more than sufficient for the slippery stuff. With this, once you’re off the beaten track, you simply twist this rotary dial by the gearstick into the designated ‘Off Road’ setting. This tunes the ABS braking, the EDS differential and the ASR anti-slip regulation traction control for ‘off piste’ duty, while at the same time activating Hill Descent Assist and adjusting the automatic gearbox change points.
Up front, though there’s the usual commanding SUV driving position, though it doesn’t deliver quite the all-round vision you’d get in, say, a Range Rover or a Land Rover Discovery because this Touareg’s window level is that little bit higher.
As previously in this car, there are supportive six-way-adjustable heated leather seats with lumbar support that position you perfectly in front of a thick three-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel that of course you can tailor for both reach and rake. The centre of the dash is, as you’d expect in this class of car, dominated by a large infotainment touchscreen.
All the usual accoutrements then, of 21st century motoring.