3.0 V6 TSI eHybrid 4Motion R 5dr Tip Auto
Like all the other large SUVs underpinned by the MLB architecture, the way that VW has managed to hide the Touareg’s porky two-tonne-plus kerbweight 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. 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.
You’ve a total of five to choose from: two 3.0-litre diesels, offering decent economy and happy torque and peaking at 228bhp or 282bhp, plus a 335bhp V6 petrol also on offer, but we’re talking fuel economy in the mid-20mpg range on a good day, so that’s one for those who really can’t cope with the thrum of diesel. Not that it’s that noticeable here anyway.
Then there’s the plug-in hybrids, either the lesser powered 376bhp unit (available for the first time on the entry-level trim and offering up to 31 miles of EV range), or the R with 462bhp, if you’re into your tax friendly sports SUVs. We can’t fathom why you’d need that much power in an SUV, particularly when chances are these won’t see much more action than the school and supermarket run.
And based on our experience you want one of the diesels anyway. The higher powered, 282bhp is our preferred choice as it shoves the Touareg along with gusto while returning decent fuel economy. With the extra grunt, clogging the throttle will see 0-62mph off in just under six and a half seconds and onto a top speed of 147mph. Claimed fuel consumption is (a realistic) 34.4mpg, while it kicks out 215g/km of CO2. The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox feels slick too.
Generally, 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.
On the standard steel springs of the basic trim the ride is a little unsettled, with bigger bumps and ruts in the road a little too jarring for our liking. Air suspension is a £1,705 option or standard from mid-spec trim upwards but well worth it, offering a far improved ride and soaking up any imperfections with ease.
One thing we would say is to be wary of wheel choice, as you’re now limited to 20s (best for ride, less for looks) to 22s (worst for ride, better for looks), which do the ride no favours on the firmer steel suspension, either.
We tried it on a short off-road route and came away pretty impressed. There are various off-road modes depending on spec, selectable via the touchscreen, the air suspension is height adjustable using the rotary knob on the centre console, and four-wheel drive comes as standard. Naturally.
It also gets hill start assist, hill descent assist and all-round cameras to help you out, and the wading depth is up to 580mm. We couldn’t help but admire how easily it managed the muddy climbs and descents. Finally, an SUV that takes the 'U' bit seriously.
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