What is it?
The Volkswagen Touareg is a big posh off-roader that can cut it in the muck. Less offensive than the related Cayenne, somehow.
On air suspension 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.
There's a choice of three-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 diesels and VW's first ever hybrid, a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine producing 330bhp married to an electric motor generating 45bhp. The hybrid doesn't trouble the smallest diesel on running costs, but what it does do is hand you a V6 petrol version with V8 performance and a sub 200g/km CO2 figure. Perfect for diesel haters, then. They're missing out though, because the V8 diesel is only fractionally more expensive, and it's a powerhouse. With 340bhp and 590lb ft of torque, it more than makes up for the absence of the V10 diesel. The 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds is 1.6 seconds 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.
On the inside
The seats are big, the engines sound a long way away and most luxuries are to hand. The only problem is a shuddery ride.
Nothing to fault in the cabin: VW quality reigns supreme. However, if we were to be picky the all-too familiar layout does scream overgrown Golf rather than a £50k SUV.
Unusually in this day and age of massive SUVs, Volkswagen has shied away from adding an extra row and so the Touareg remains a five-seater. But there's plenty of room inside for five adults and a 580 litres the boot is 80 litres larger than the old model. There's also a button in the boot to lower the rear for loading - in this mode, there are hatchbacks out there with higher boot sills.
This new VW Touareg is 220kg lighter than the last one - 10 per cent off the weight. 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 does 31.2mpg and the hybrid achieves 34.6mpg.