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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen Touareg

Overall verdict
The VW faces an uphill struggle against brand laden rivals, but is actually just as good.


Sophisticated and high-tech interior plus engines for all situations in the pipeline


Same-price rivals wear more premium badges


What is it?

VW’s new flagship. The most intelligent and technologically advanced production car to come out of Wolfsburg, no less. Now in its third-generation, Volkswagen’s big SUV has sacrificed its off-roadyness to become more of a premium, hi-tech SUV for the road. 

Put simply, it’s Volkswagen’s incredibly stylised answer to the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes GLE and BMW X5. Now, that’s a heavyweight battle if ever there was one. 

Built off the incredibly flexible ‘MLB Evo’ parts matrix, the Touareg uses the same architecture as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. That means there’s aluminium suspension, a body that’s largely aluminium too, and a whole lot of other weight-saving in the powertrain, cooling, exhaust, electrics, seats, whatever.

The Touareg’s somewhat dumpy looks have been sharpened up with more powerful and svelte lines that add an air of sophistication and modernity. Thanks to the new platform-sharing, the car has actually increased in size but dropped 106kg. Compared to the last car, it’s 44mm wider and 77mm longer but lower than its second-generation brother; helping its proportions and making it a bit easier on the eye. Another win is that there’s even more boot space, up 113 litres to 810 in total with the rear seats in place. So you can lob pretty much all you can think this side of a medium-sized elephant back there and it’ll probably fit. 

Back in 2003, when the first Touareg was launched, it was the outrageously torquetastic V10 TDI that had everyone talking. As well the choppy ride quality. This time it’s all about the tech. Inside has seen one of the biggest cabin overhauls from VW in decades, repositioning the Touareg entirely and bringing it bang in-line and even ahead of its fiercest competitors. Some interior materials feel like they’ve suffered in quality to help finance the incredible dual screen display, but you’ll forgive it, as it looks fantastic, is incredibly minimalist and has a tech artillery to back it up.

These include: ‘Night Vision’ to detect (and hopefully avoid) humans and animals in darkness via a thermal imaging camera; Roadwork Lane Assist, to steer, brake and accelerate for you up to 37mph; four-wheel steering to make it feel nimbler than it actually is; active roll stabilisation, to magically reduce body roll, and a head-up display projected directly onto the windscreen. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but will start at £49,000 and, we suspect, will go rapidly north from there. 

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
3.0 V6 TSI 4Motion Black Edition 5dr Tip Auto
5.9s 205g/km 31.4 340 £61,020
The cheapest
3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion 231 SE 5dr Tip Auto
7.5s 173g/km 42.8 231 £44,110
The greenest
3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion 231 Black Edition 5dr Tip Auto
7.5s 173g/km 42.8 231 £57,410