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Volkswagen Touareg V8
6/10

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Road Test

Volkswagen Touareg V8

Driven June 2010

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Imagine the brief at Volkswagen HQ. "You there, you engineers. Go and build an all-new Touareg. Oh, but don't think you've got a free hand on this one. Before you add any luxury or 4x4 hardware, you need to run it past the CO2 Committee."

Seriously - this Committee exists. It takes a German outlook on life to come up with this arrangement, but you can't deny the effectiveness of the outcome. The CO2 Committee vetted all the car's build processes, so this new Touareg is 220kg lighter than the last one - 10 per cent of the weight. Wow. Five per cent has been dropped out of the body, 21kg has been shaved from the transmission, even the electric parking brake has saved 3kg.

Impressive stuff. And very useful when it comes to making your two-tonne SUV that little bit more economical and eco-friendly. So the V6 diesel manages 38.4mpg, the V8 diesel (which replaces the flawed but still awesome V10 oil burner) does 31.2mpg and the Hybrid achieves an average of 34.6mpg.

In lottery world, the V8 is the engine to have. It's too much money at £56,000, but the amount of power (335bhp) and torque (590lb ft) means the V10 diesel won't be much missed. After all, 0-62mph takes 5.8 seconds in the V8, which is 1.6secs up on the V10. It's impressively quiet at all speeds and you never get any diesel clatter in the cabin. There's also a new eight-speed automatic gearbox, and it's a good 'un. It never feels like it's hunting around for gears and it's so smooth that you don't notice all those changes. Still, you do wonder why eight gears are needed. Surely two fewer cogs would have saved the Committee some kilos?

On air suspension (a £2,000 option on all models), the V8 rides superbly. If you want to do much off-roading in your Touareg you'll need the air system because of the versatility it gives. You can raise it by up to 78mm from a normal ‘road' setting, as well as ordering the car with a low-range box and locking diffs with the Escape spec, and there's also a button in the boot to lower the rear for loading - in this mode, there are ordinary hatchbacks out there with higher boot sills. But don't think the Touareg is another family-focused SUV, as you can only get it with five seats.

Unless you're a champagne-hippie, don't worry about the Hybrid. With a petrol engine it just doesn't suit our market. The diesels, though, are where it's at for the VW Touareg, and both make it a real contender in the big SUV market - don't panic about not having a Range Rover badge on your bonnet. Besides, the CO2 lot would never have let the extra weight of all those separate letters through.

Piers Ward

 

On your drive for: £1,381pcm

Performance: 0-62mph in 5.8secs, max speed 150mph, 31.2mpg

Tech: 4134cc, V8, 4WD, 335bhp, 590lb ft, 2222kg, 239g/km CO2

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