Volkswagen Touareg Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Friday 2nd June


What is it like to drive?

Like all the other large SUVs underpinned by the MLB architecture, the way that VW has managed to hide the Touareg’s porky 1,995 kg kerbweight (more in heavily-specced trims) is pretty much Ouija board witchcraft. It’s thanks to the electro-mechanically 48V adjustable anti-roll bars working in conjunction with the active all-wheel steering, which simultaneously levels out body roll while virtually taking a slice out of the wheelbase.

These are complex and expensive ways to disguise over two tonnes of car, and you’re always aware of the forces they’re fighting, but they really work. In a world of electric cars that regularly crest the two-tonne mark, the Touareg actually feels quite sprightly.

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What are my engine options?

The engines of choice are pretty much either of the two 3.0-litre diesels, offering decent economy and happy torque, and peaking at 228bhp or 282bhp. There’s a 335bhp V6 petrol also on offer, but we’re talking 25.7mpg on a good day, so that’s one for those who really can’t cope with the thrum of diesel. Then there’s the plug-in hybrid R with 462bhp, and that seems to be a very tax-friendly and absolutely surprising sports-SUV. 

Of the two diesel V6s available, the higher powered, 282bhp one is the choice of the lot as it returns decent fuel economy while shoving the Touareg along with gusto. It’s seriously refined too. Same story for the slick eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

Sweet. And what’s the ride like?

With the optional adaptive air suspension the ride is refined, soaking up small and large road imperfections with ease. The variable steering rack is direct and light but lacks feeling. One thing we would say is to be wary of wheel choice, as you can spec everything from 17s (good for ride, bad for looks) to 21s (bad for ride, good for looks).

But with the inclusion of all the new geeky tech, the Touareg’s off-road ability has been slightly compromised for the latest model. There’s still permanent four-wheel drive and a centre diff-lock acting as the transfer box between the front and rear axles (sending 70 per cent of torque to the front wheels and up to 80 per cent to the rear) but there’s no rear locking diff, so the Touareg has a tendency to unnecessarily spin its wheels on far from arduous off-road terrain.

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Are there modes? Tell me there are modes?

There are four off-road modes (Snow, Sand, Gravel and Expert) as part of the Off-Road pack, but they’re all just throttle, ECU and steering maps. Saying that, if you do tick that box, you also get two towing eyes, a 15-litre larger fuel tank (90-litres) and some underbody protection.

Generally though, the Touareg is impressive on the road. There’s plenty of cruising calm, it’s tight and responsive and capable of winding its way down a back road with minimum fuss. More so than some of it’s more ‘premium’ priced competition.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TSI PHEV 4Motion R 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-625.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP462
  • MPG
  • Price£77,855

the cheapest

Volkswagen Touareg 2.5 TDI SE [Leather] [DPF] 5dr Auto
  • 0-6212.9s
  • CO2286.0g/km
  • BHP174
  • MPG28
  • Price£33,517

the greenest

Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion SEL 5dr Tip Auto
  • 0-626.3s
  • CO2173.0g/km
  • BHP286
  • MPG42.8
  • Price£57,090

Variants We Have Tested

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