The flagship Volkswagen Touareg is a pretty low-key machine – at least until you feel the force of its 800Nm V8 engine.
Base price: $135,900.
Powertrain and performance: 4.2-litre turbo diesel V8, 250kW/800Nm, 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, Combined economy 9.1 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 5.8 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4801mm long, 1709mm high, 2893mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 580-1642 litres, fuel tank 85 litres, 20-inch alloy wheels on 275/45 tyres.
We like: Epic powertrain, chassis comfort, excellent value for money.
We don’t like: No disguising the age of this model, not even slightly sporty.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Think of the Volkswagen Touareg as the quiet achiever in its segment. It’s not as flashy or self-consciously prestigious as the likes of the Audi Q7 or Porsche Cayenne (two vehicles with which it shares a platform, albeit in different generations at times), but it really delivers in quality and performance.
Most of the volume lies with the V6 TDI (turbo diesel) model, but for a bit of wow-factor you can’t ignore the flagship V8 TDI. It has awesome outputs, an extensive range of mechanical and interior equipment and sits at a very attractive price point for such an impressively specified machine.
The latest Touareg is a facelift model that can be identified by some fairly minor exterior changes, including a new grille with four bars and some modifications to the brightwork. The V8 TDI comes as standard with the R-Line package, which includes special front and rear bumpers, a body kit and chromed angular exhaust pipes. Interior trim includes leather seats embroidered with the R-Line logo.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? It’s easy to lament the demise of the old V10 TDI-powered Touareg because the cylinder count looked so impressive on paper.
In reality, the latest V8 TDI has more torque and it’s faster overall – even when you factor in the sports-minded R50 V10 model that once headed up the range.
The key figure with the V8 TDI is 800Nm and it really speaks for itself. The rolling acceleration is tremendous, especially with the smooth eight-speed gearbox. There’s some lag from standstill, as the big diesel gathers up its strength and gets two-tonne-plus of sports utility vehicle (SUV) moving, but from there it’s all rather effortless.
It’s handling that sets the Touareg apart from its Cayenne sibling. While the Porsche is set up to be quite sporty, the VW favours comfort and off-road ability. It’s almost Range Rover-like in the way it combines soft initial steering and turn-in responses with tenacious mid-corner grip and traction.
Air suspension is standard on the TDI V8. You can set the stiffness and ride height to optimise it for a variety of applications. Crank it up to maximum elevation and there’s a lot of air between tyre and wheel arch. It’s pretty impressive and very versatile.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The cabin architecture is typical VW: quite conservative but undeniably impressive in terms of quality and build.
The V8 TDI certainly doesn’t skimp on luxury equipment. The seats are upholstered in Nappa leather, there’s power everything and a 360-degree camera system for parking. The Touareg facelift also picks up a new eight-inch touch screen from some of the newer members of the VW family, including the Golf.
About all that’s missing is adaptive cruise control technology, which is available as part of an option package. At the V8 TDI’s sharp list price, there’s room to spend the extra.
Note that the Touareg is still an old-school luxury SUV. Despite its considerable exterior dimensions, it’s still strictly a five-seater and was never intended to be anything else.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The Touareg V8 TDI is an expensive Volkswagen, but something of a bargain in the full-size SUV segment when you consider the epic powertrain and unashamed luxury on offer.
It’s not going to impress the neighbours as much as an Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche SUV. To be honest, the Touareg body shape is also a little too familiar to be considered fresh-looking, even in facelift form.
But you cannot argue with the performance, luxury and sheer value for money. The lack of pretension in this model might also be considered a plus by buyers who prefer substance over badge-snobbery.
- Blind spot warning: Yes
- Lane guidance: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Parking radar: Yes with 360-degree camera system
- Self-parking technology: No
- Head-up display: No
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Stop-start: Yes
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes
- Leather upholstery: Nappa with R-Line logos
- Power boot or tailgate: Yes
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40