The Touareg was introduced to the Australian market in 2003 as Volkswagen’s first attempt at a 4x4. Originally intended to compete with the serious 4x4 market – Land Rover’s Discovery 3 and the Range Rover Sport for instance – it has found its niche in the luxury 4x4 bracket and is slowly gaining ground on the competition.
The Touareg is certainly pleasing on the eye, combining classic VW styling with sleek curves to give it a contemporary feel. Its sheer size lends it an air of gravitas that simply cannot be achieved with a smaller vehicle, and for that alone, the Touareg is worthy of consideration if you are in the market for a decent-performing luxury 4x4.
The year 2007 saw a facelift for the Touareg, though largely in its styling rather than under the bonnet, while a whole raft of additions and developments have been incorporated in models dating from 2011 onwards.
The first Touaregs offered a choice of three engines. Two petrol options included a 3.2L 24-valve V6 and a 4.2L 40-valve V8, and a huge diesel option came in the form of a V10 TDI, delivering a whopping 230kW and 750Nm of torque. At the time, it was the most powerful passenger diesel engine in the world, which certainly lent some gravitas to the diesel Touareg; however, it also resulted in a feeling of overkill for some. Still, if it’s performance you’re after, the Touareg has it in spades. All the early models came with a 6-speed auto transmission as standard, with a manual option for the V8 and V10TDI.
The year 2005 saw the introduction of the 2.5L 5-cylinder turbo diesel, the R5 TDI, filling a void that had been left in the original model line-up. The R5 came in a standard and luxury trim and boasted a luxury price tag to match. Better value for money is probably represented in the 2007 TDI with its 3.0L engine, although the updated R5 – known as the R50 – which was also released in 2007, has its fair share of fans. The R50 boasts a decent 258kW and 850Nm of torque, offering a 0-100km/h speed of just 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 235km/h.
The Touareg has continued to evolve with its increasing popularity, with 2011 seeing some fine-tuning to the engine options and further updates on 2013 models, which will be working their way onto the forecourts over the next few years.
Four models formed the early Touareg offering – the V6, V6L, V8, and V10TDI. The top-of-the-range V10TDI offered a super-high spec as standard, with satnav and four-zone climate control air-conditioning. If you’re in the market for all sorts of neat facilities to ease the drive, this is the model for you. CDC (Continuous Damping Control) air suspension provides increased ground clearance, enhanced by a three-part door seal system, which is designed to keep the water out – proof enough if you need it that this really is a vehicle suitable for being driven off road.
All Touaregs come with a raft of luxury features. Expect to find leather upholstery, alloys (17 inch for the entry-level model and 18 inch on the higher spec variants), two-zone climate control, parking sensors to front and rear, touch-screen display, Bluetooth connectivity with integrated steering-wheel audio and telephone controls, heated foldable wing mirrors, automatic headlights and fog lights, heated washer jets, and much, much more.
Comfort is guaranteed for the driver, with plenty of adjustable features to seating position and wheel, while the front passenger seat comes with pneumatic bolsters to the side, and the rear seat has a recline function and adjustable central arm rest.
Safety has always been a major consideration for Volkswagen, and the Touareg represents the pinnacle of VW safety technology. Early models featured front and side airbags, wide curtain airbags, belt tensioners and force limiters, and three-point seat belts with height adjustment. If you are looking to buy a later Touareg, expect to find an even higher level of safety kit as standard, including 9 airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), brake assist, auto hold and hill hold assist, active rollover protection system, hill descent assist, and an off-road function with ABSplus.
Initially competition was perceived to be from the heavy-duty 4x4 market, however, the Touareg really comes into its own in the company of its fellow luxury German-manufactured 4x4s from BMW and Audi.
The Touareg has become increasingly popular, with later models offering significantly better value for money than their earlier predecessors and stacking up strongly against the competition. It has the size and space to compete with some of the biggest and most luxurious 4x4s whilst sharing its pricing with some of its mid-size contenders – with some serious Volkswagen technology thrown in to boot.