Volkswagen Touareg Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Volkswagen Touareg

£ 44,110 - £ 61,020
810
Published: 09 May 2018
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Often forgotten in favour of more exotic fare, the Touareg’s a hidden SUV hero

Good stuff

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

Bad stuff

Same-price rivals wear more premium badges

Overview

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. 

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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. 

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Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

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

The Touareg has had its biggest makeover yet. Both inside and out it's been thoroughly modernised and really has something to shout about. Fully-loaded, it’s a proper tech powerhouse and the flagship that VW will be showing off for a while. But that technology is expensive, so be careful what you spec. Even so, the big VW has always been the thinking person’s large SUV, more understated and less ostentatious as its rivals, it’s more than capable of holding its own on the road, now in utter refinement. Even if it has sacrificed its off-road ability for it. But honestly, how many of you are looking to take it on the rough stuff anyway?  
 

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