Within the Volkswagen Group, you can get your big, expensive SUV at Audi, Porsche, or even Bentley and Lamborghini. However, Volkswagen wants to have their own SUV. It started back in 2002, when the first Touareg was launched. Now it’s time to meet the third generation. Because it’s a Volkswagen, the Touareg is quite a weird car. There are more household names with big SUV’s, like the Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe, but they’re positioned lower in the markets. In the USA, Volkswagen has such an SUV in range: the Atlas. That’s bigger, but also cheaper than the Touareg. This car is supposed to rival the premium SUV’s. Cars like the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90, but also its own cousins Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. It’s on the same platform as the Q7 and Cayenne as well, which is now called the MLB Evo. Because of that, the Touareg is now longer and wider than before.It’s been lowered at the same time as well. That means the measurements are very different, so it’s immediately recognizable as the new Touareg. If it’s still not clear enough for you, Volkswagen has mounted an remarkable front… with lots of chrome, so it’s impossible to mistake this car for something else. If you want to rival the cars of the big manufacturers, your technology has to be cutting edge. Volkswagen has done that by installing huge screens. You’ve already got a digital instrument cluster, if you get the right trim level that is, and next to that, you’ve got a screen which… when it comes to size, literally beats everyone, except for a Tesla maybe. For comparison, I’ve brought my laptop. It’s not the biggest laptop ever, but it’s of decent size with its 14-inch. It’s one inch smaller than the screen in the Volkswagen, there’s a 15-inch screen in here. It’s almost like you’re watching a TV-sized screen. That does mean almost all of the functions are hidden in there. So even for the climate control, you have to use the screen. That’s a big difference with screens you’ll get in smaller Volkswagens. And that has two sides to it. On the one hand, it looks very clean.You can also do lots of things. You can configure the screen any way you want to. Every button where you want it to be, but on the other hand, you’ll be searching for stuff for most of the time. If you want to connect your phone, or alter the safety systems, it could take up to half an hour. Also, the technology is very meddlesome. Everytime you get in the car, the lane assist turns
on, which you’ll have to turn off again. The rest of the interior is just like we’re used to from Volkswagen, it’s all neatly finished. It also features more premium materials, which you won’t find in less expensive Volkswagens.They’ve really tried to make it something special. Take the gear lever for example, that’s unique for the Touareg. This is not just a glorified Tiguan. Also, we’ve got nice sorts of wood, in this particular car that is. However, there are still some elements… which remind me of regular Volkswagens. The steering wheel for example, which you’ll find in almost every other Volkswagen. Also, the materials underneath the materials you can see and feel, because it’s the same plastic you’d find in a Polo or a Golf. That’s not a game changer, but it’s a little unfortunate. If we look at it as a whole, I can say there are cars which emit more wealth. It’s in the small things, and it might sound a little whiny, but the color of the leather isn’t natural enough, and the interior just doesn’t give you that ‘wow’-feeling, like you get in other rivals.What they’ve done very neatly, is the seating position. Everybody who gets in here, is able to find their optimal steering position in no time. When it comes to the drive, it’s the big and lumpy, but incredibly comfortable huge beast you expect it to be. Also, this particular car is fitted with air suspension, which adds to the comfort. It’s a fantastic travel car. I don’t think people buy this car to corner quickly, because you could always go for a Porsche Cayenne or a BMW X5, but if you do, it’s clear that it’s all very calculated. The car always remains stable, it’s always communicative, you’ll never get the feeling that you’re losing contact, or losing control or anything. It’s the ideal high-miler, but it feels as big and heavy as it is. When it comes to the drivetrain, a V6 diesel engine powers the car. A dying race actually. Volvo doesn’t even produce 6-cylinder engines anymore, but in the front, we have a good old 3.0-litre V6 TDI. An engine found in lots of Audi’s. In this case, it produces 286 horsepower. You can get a version with 231 horsepower as well, which sum up the available engines at the launch.In time, a petrol V6 will become available, and even a V8 diesel will be added to the range. If you ask me, you don’t need those, because this V6 is phenomenal. You put your foot down and because of the 600 Nm of torque,
you’ll fly off the line. It’s not ridiculously quick, but it’s quick enough. It’s also very quiet. The engine will always be connected to an 8-speed automatic, just like it always comes with four-wheel drive. It’s got the famous 8-speed ZF-gearbox, which is fitted in a lot of cars of this class, and it does a great job.If there’s one thing you could see as a flaw, is that when it’s in Sport-mode and you put your foot down, it might take too long before accelerating. That’s incidental however, and for a daily driver, this is a very pleasant drivetrain. The travelling has to be done by five people however, because this is no seven-seater. Despite that, you’ve got lots of room. On the rear seat, it’s incredibly spacious, which shouldn’t be a surprise in a car of this size, but the boot can fit 810 litres. That’s a record amount. There aren’t a lot of cars which trump that.All of the space is for free, but that’s about the only free feature on here. It’s a Volkswagen and it’s an expensive SUV, so you know the options list is going to be endless. Let me get it for you… The 286 horsepower V6 TDI… Prices start at €90.000. This particular car has the Atmosphere-trim, which is one of the two middle-versions, which applies to the kind of trim. So it’s a matter of taste, but the Atmosphere has this wood for example. The Atmosphere starts €96.500. Then, very important, the Innovation-pack. The pack where these screens are in, along with other stuff like LED-matrix headlights, a WiFi-hotspot, dead angle detection, et cetera. That’s an additional €7.500.If you think, that’s it, you’d be wrong. It’s also fitted with the Comfort-pack, which has air suspension which is very nice, a big panoramic sunroof and other small stuff. That’ll cost €4.000, and the list keeps on going. R-Line-exterior, bigger wheels, et cetera, et cetera. Before you know it, this car suddenly costs €120.000. And you don’t get separate climate control in the back, a heated rear seat or seat ventilation. Those things sound incredibly luxurious, but you can expect stuff like that for €120.000. You don’t have to choose the Touareg above the Q7… for the money, but why should you? For example, because you think the Audi-logo or BMW-logo is too flashy. Or maybe because you’ve driven a Volkswagen your entire life. So if you choose for this car, you might look relatively modest, but you’ll be incredibly comfortable. .