BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
A new-generation Volkswagen Touareg was released in mid-2011 and was upgraded in 2013 and 2015. The new model received a much-needed boost in interior space.
The Touareg has struggled to match the success of other European luxury 4WDs in the Australian market and that’s partly due to persistence with low-range gearing that made RRPs uncompetitive with less-specified BMW, ‘Benz and Audi competitors.
It seems that VW originally thought it could compete with the Discovery 3, Range Rover Sport and LandCruiser 200 Series in the true off-road stakes, but has accepted a more realistic luxury-SUV role.
Low-range gearing was retained in one model until 2015, when it was dropped. As with the Amarok and Crafter, when automatic transmission is specified, low-range gearing is deemed unnecessary.
Despite being lower, the current Touareg is larger than the previous model. It is almost 50mm longer in wheelbase and overall length has increased by 144mm, yet it weighs up to 90kg less and is said to be up to 20 percent more fuel-efficient.
This efficiency is aided to a large extent by the standard fitment of an eight-speed automatic transmission.
New options in 2011 included an advanced Driver Assistance Package which incorporates a range of features such as Lane Assist, Side Assist and ProActive Occupant Protection System.
All new Touaregs featured BlueMotion technologies including brake energy recuperation and Start/Stop functionality.
Standard equipment across the range included nine airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Auto Hold and Hill Hold Assist, ASR, EDL and ESP with active rollover protection function, EBC and Off-road Function with Anti-lock Braking System (ABSplus) and Hill Decent Assist.
Entertainment and technology equipment fitted as standard included coloured Multi-function Display and Bluetooth® connectivity.
Pricing in 2011 for the new range started at $62,990 for the five-cylinder diesel and peaked at $82,990 for the low-range equipped V6 TDI model.
In early 2013, Volkswagen expanded the range with the introduction of the V8 TDI R-Line with 4MOTION four-wheel drive. The V8 TDI R-Line offered a more dynamic exterior look with 21-inch “Mallory” wheels, R-Line bumpers and oval tailpipes and was powered by a 250kW/800Nm, 4.2-litre V8 turbo diesel engine.
The ZF eight-speed automatic driveline had brake energy recuperation, resulting in claimed combined fuel
consumption of 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres (242 g/km CO2).
Inside, the R-Line logo featured on the front stainless steel door sill plates and on the heated, leather rimmed multi-function steering wheel with R-Line logo and gear shift paddles. Rounding out the styling were stainless steel pedals and a leather gear shift knob with aluminium inserts.
The R-Line came fully loaded, with every electronic gadget in the VW catalogue.
In early 2015 Volkswagen announced a revised line-up.
The streamlined range consisted of the 150TDI, V6 TDI and V8 TDI R-Line model variants, all with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard features across the range included: bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive and RNS850 satellite navigation system.
A refreshed look for the Touareg was achieved inside and out, with new front and rear bumpers, fog lights, ventilation grilles, alloy wheel designs, new interior system buttons and white-light interior illumination.
Multi-collision brake was standard and designed to trigger automatic controlled braking once an initial collision has been detected, to reduce the severity or even potentially avoid subsequent accidents.
Other standard assistance and safety features included Driver Fatigue Detection and Coasting Function to save fuel when the driver’s foot was off the accelerator pedal.
Featuring a revised 150kW V6 turbo diesel engine with 450Nm of torque at 1250 – 2750rpm (+50Nm over the 2013 Touareg), the Touareg 150TDI scored: Vienna leather appointed seat upholstery with heated front seats; front and rear parking sensors with Rear View Camera; electrically adjustable front seats, with 14-way adjustment including electric lumbar adjustment and electro-pneumatic side bolsters; rear seat backrest with ‘remote’ 60:40 split/folding from luggage compartment; safety optimised front head restraints with height and longitudinal adjustment; and new 18-inch “Arica” alloy wheels.
The Touareg 150TDI upgraded V6 engine delivered a claimed 7.2 litres/100km fuel consumption.
The next model in the Touareg range, the V6 TDI, extended on the list of features of the Touareg 150TDI. The 180kW V6 turbo diesel engine was revised to offer maximum 550Nm of torque from 1750 – 2250rpm.
Additional features included: Nappa leather appointed seat upholstery with heated front seats; air suspension with adaptive dampening control; alarm system with interior monitoring, tilt sensor and central locking; automatic opening and closing tailgate; new “Masafi” 20-inch alloy wheels; and “Sapelli” mahogany ornamental wood decorative inserts in dashboard, centre console and doors.
Customers choosing the Touareg V6 TDI also had the option of Technology Package and Driver Assistance package. The Technology Package included: area view, 360-degree exterior view; electrically adjustable door mirrors, front seats and steering wheel with memory function; automatic kerb view function when reversing, passenger’s side exterior mirror; increased 100-litrefuel tank capacity and keyless entry and starter button.
The Driver Assistance Package included: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Front Assist function and City Emergency brake (City EB); heated, multi-function leather steering wheel; proactive occupant protection system; and Side Assist, lane changing assistant.
The Touareg R-Line remained the pinnacle vehicle, with a 250kW turbo-diesel V8 engine. It featured unique R-Line design elements, including: R-Line front and rear bumper design; R-Line radiator grille badge; Multi-function leather steering wheel with R-Line logo, with gearshift paddles; and two colour Nappa leather appointed seat upholstery, with R-Line stitched logo on front driver and passenger head restraints and heated front and rear outer seats.
Furthering the equipment list were: 21-inch “Mallory” alloy wheels; dark tinted rear side and rear window glass; Dynaudio confidence 620W premium audio system, with 12 channel digital amplifier and 12 speakers; and aluminium “Silver Lane” decorative inserts for dashboard, centre console and doors.
As the top-of-the-line model in the Touareg range, the R-Line also received both the Technology Package and Driver Assistance Package (excluding Lane Assist) as standard, adding even further value.
An ongoing issue we have with the new Touareg is the fitment of a temporary spare wheel and tyre. We won’t test any vehicle that comes with this totally unsuitable equipment and would recommend a Touareg only if it came with a proper spare and mounting system free of charge.
The VW Touareg was released in September 2003, with a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel engine. Priced from $67,600, the Touareg had a choice of 3.2-litre 24-valve V6 and 4.2-litre 40-valve V8 petrol engines and diesel overkill in the form of a V10TDI twin-turbocharged diesel powerplant which, with 230kW and 750Nm, was then the world’s most powerful passenger-car diesel engine. However, there was no mid-powered diesel option to let the Touareg compete with other Euro wagons and the Japanese.
There were four Touareg models: V6, V6L, V8 and V10TDI.
V10TDI Touaregs came with standard satellite navigation; an option on other models. Four-zone climate-control air-conditioning was standard on V10TDI models and optional on V8 and V6 models, which came with two-zone as standard).
With a 60/40 split rear seat, luggage compartment volume varied from 555 to 1570 litres.
Standard transmission was a six-speed electronic automatic and V8 and V10TDI models had steering column-mounted paddles for manual shifting.
Power was transmitted through a transfer gearbox, with switchable off-road low-range gearing, to front, rear and centre differentials. A centre differential lock was standard and an electronic rear differential lock was optional.
In normal conditions, power was split 50:50/front:rear, but up to 100 percent drive could be transferred to either front or rear axle. The driver could also activate the centre diff lock manually, using a rotary switch.
Standard on V10 models and optional on V8s, Volkswagen’s Continuous Damping Control (CDC) air suspension increased standard ground clearance from 237mm up to 300mm.
Combined with a three-part door seal system designed to keep water out; waterproof headlights and connectors; a special air intake and sealed drive shafts, the Touareg could ford creek crossings up to 500mm deep (580mm with air suspension).
Body innovations included plastic front mudguards and an aluminium bonnet.
Bi-xenon headlights were standard on V10TDIs and optional on V8s.
Ergonomics were thoughtfully worked: steering column wands were employed for only basic functions (turn signals, headlight flasher and wipers) while all other systems were activated by separate switches.
V8 and V10TDI Touaregs had standard 12-way adjustable electric front seats with a memory system and the steering column also had a memory function.
In addition to front and side airbags, there were curtain airbags that covered the entire window surface between the A and C-pillars. The Touareg also boasted belt tensioners for window passengers, with force limiters for driver and front passenger, five three-point seat belts with height adjustment for front and rear passengers.
Recommended retail prices were: V6 – $67,600; V6L – $75,800; V8 – $99,950 and V10TDI – $138,500.
In November 2004 the Touareg was awarded a five star collision safety rating after Euro NCAP barrier testing.
For 2005 the long-awaited five-cylinder turbo diesel model, R5 TDI, was released, providing a second diesel option in the lineup.
Volkswagen’s 2.5-litre five cylinder turbo-diesel produced a claimed 128kW of power with 400Nm of peak torque. As with the petrol V6 Touareg, there were two R5 TDI models: the standard (R5 TDI) and luxury (R5 TDI L) variants. With a RRP from $69,900, the R5 TDI Touareg was no great bargain.
The 2007 model year Touareg represented much better value for money, thanks to the introduction of a 3.0-litre 165kW/500Nm V6 TDI diesel engine.
The V6 petrol FSI and V6 TDI models were fitted with with an alarm system, walnut wood and brushed aluminium inserts in dashboard and doors, leather seats, electrically adjustable front seats with 12-way adjustment, as well as individually heated front seats.
Pricing for the R5 TDI dropped to $64,990 and the V6 diesel had a RRP of $74,990, identical to the petrol V6 model.
In mid-2007 The Touareg scored a new frontal appearance that a chrome grille, distinctive headlights and new wheels and colours.
In addition, the interior was outfitted with two seating systems.
The V10 diesel was already over the top in our view, but that didn’t stop VW giving it the tuning treatment in late 2007.
The new Touareg R50 boasted 258kW and 850Nm from the souped-up V10.
VW reckoned the R50 accelerated to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds, with a top speed of 235 km/h.
Touaregs never sold in sufficient quantities to cause much interest in the after-market, so there’s very little in the way of off-road kit available.