Style and power: All-new Touareg is pinnacle of Volkswagon range
The all-new Touareg is the flagship of the VW range. It's a powerful combination of brawn, style, comfort and technology.
Everything, basically. The car is entirely new, and is the most advanced Volkswagen yet.
This is the third generation of the venerable SUV, a large premium vehicle produced by the German manufacturer since 2002.
The name comes from the nomadic Tuareg people, traditionally nomadic inhabitants of the interior of the Sahara desert in North Africa.
VW says the Touareg is characterised not just by its safety features, but also by its "trailblazing" fusion of assist, comfort, lighting and infotainment systems.
Consequently, the Touareg launches with the widest range of assist, driving dynamics and comfort systems that has ever been integrated in a Volkswagen.
The flagship vehicle is based on the group's MLB platform, which is also used for the Audi Q7 and Lamborghini Urus (and which Bentley has adapted for its Bentayga luxury SUV).
Looks and design
There's a new look to go with the new chassis. It's very much evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, taking the best bits from the second generation Touareg.
Sharp lines, a muscular stance and an imposing front end are amongst its strong points.
It needs to be distinctive - competitors like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 arguably have more badge appeal, but then the Touareg beats them on price.
The new car is 44mm wider and 77mm longer than the outgoing model, with a bigger boot now up 130 litres to 810 litres.
Despite its size, VW's engineers have managed to get it to shed weight: it's 106kg lighter, due largely to its mixed material construction of aluminium (48 per cent) and high-tech steels (52 per cent), and can therefore deliver increased fuel efficiency.
Inside the cabin & spec
The interior has received a further upgrade, with lots of quality leather and soft-touch materials.
The full spec range is SEL, R-Line and R-Line Tech. The entry-level model is fitted with 'Vienna Black' leather and LED white interior lighting. The gear knob is leather-trimmed with a gloss black inlay and aluminium trim.
The steering wheel is also leather trimmed, and includes paddle shift, gloss black inserts, and aluminium trim.
It is also equipped with the impressive Discover Navigation Pro infotainment system. This has a 9.2-inch touchscreen at its heart.
The Discover Navigation Pro system includes navigation with European mapping, Bluetooth telephone and audio connection, and a variety of other features such as DAB radio. Functionality is enhanced by voice activation for the navigation and telephone functions.
Taking infotainment a step further, a three-year subscription to Car-Net 'Guide and Inform' is included.
This gives online access to a range of useful features, such as traffic information, fuel pricing and a clever radio system that continuously takes the strongest signal from online, DAB and FM.
The system will also contact the emergency services if it thinks you have had an accident.
The Touareg SEL has 19-inch 'Osorno' alloy wheels and full LED headlights, which include LED static cornering lights. The rear tail lights are also LED, as are the rear fogs.
Like the SEL model the Touareg R-Line includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Front Assist. Additionally, the R-Line model has 20-inch 'Braga' Dark Graphite diamond-turned alloy wheels with sports suspension. Exterior styling is enhanced with sporty styling cues, such as a 'Gloss Black' rear diffuser.
The 4Zone climate control system, electric tailgate, a rear-view camera, and Park Assist bring even more technology to the car.
The R-Line Tech trim includes the Discover Premium infotainment system, which has a 15-inch touchscreen. Discover Premium has Nav-Gen4-Routing, which means routes are calculated online and take traffic conditions into account. The car will also learn frequent routes.
Volkswagen is presenting its fully digitalised Innovision Cockpit for the first time in the new Touareg.
Here the digital instruments (Digital Cockpit with 12-inch display) and the top Discover Premium infotainment system (with 15-inch display) merge to form a digital operating, information, communication and entertainment unit that hardly needs any conventional buttons or switches.
What's under the bonnet?
A new turbo diesel engine has now joined the all-new Touareg range. The 3.0-litre V6 TDI unit has an output of 231 PS and joins the 286 PS TDI engine that the Touareg launched with in June.
Both engines are available on the new model's three variants. The 231 PS engine delivers maximum power from 3,250rpm to 4,750rpm.
Peak torque is 500Nm from 1,750rpm to 3,000rpm and the new engine maintains the same CO2 figure (173g/km) and the same towing capacity (3,500kg) as the 286 PS unit.
All Touaregs are equipped with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox and all feature 4MOTION four-wheel drive and a limited slip differential.
VW fans hoping for the new plug-in hybrid will have to be patient, however. Although the manufacturer has let it be known that the hybrid unit will have 270kW / 367 PS of system power, it will be launched first in China, and no European launch date has yet been revealed.
Safety and driver assists
VW says the Touareg is launching with the largest range of assistance, handling and comfort systems ever to be integrated into a Volkswagen.
They include technologies such as the Night Vision assistance system (detects people and animals in darkness via a thermal imaging camera), Roadwork Lane Assist (semi-automated steering and lane keeping, accelerating and braking up to 60km/h), Front Cross Traffic Assist (reacts to cross traffic in front of the Touareg), active all-wheel steering (said to make the Touareg handle like a compact car).
Also included is new roll stabilisation with electromechanically controlled anti-roll bars, 'IQ.Light - LED matrix headlights' (interactive, camera-based dipped and main beam headlight control) and a 'Windshield Head-up Display' projected directly onto the windscreen.
VW says the driver experiences these systems as a "single unit" in the new Touareg.
They are "simply there" - interconnected via a new central control unit - working imperceptibly in the background and "making travel safer, more convenient and more intuitive than ever".
Who would buy one?
Anyone who requires a large, premium SUV with bags of technology and the latest driver assists should give the Touareg serious consideration.
It's roomy, competent, stylish and a great tower for the caravan or horse-box crowd.
It's arguably better value than its BMW, Audi and Mercedes competitors.
The latest engine addition has resulted in a lower starting price for the car. The all-new Touareg SEL with the new 231 PS V6 TDI engine is priced at £48,995 (RRP on the road).