Bigger Better Faster More Lux
One thing that Volkswagen has been busy doing in recent years, is finding that sweet spot in the art of disruption. Well you see, BMW has the X5 and Mercedes-Benz the GLE. Group family brands Porsche and Audi have the Cayenne and first ever Q8 respectively. So what business does VW have in moseying into this middle-of-the-pack upper crust Deutsch party? Well, my experience tells me that the all-new Touareg may be the like guy at the party who’s just happy to be there… but because he isn’t worried about how others see him.
But perhaps, brand-wise, if you do think it… the Volkswagen Touareg does give you the “funny funnies”, like why would they produce a car which competes directly in a different market segment?
Well, Volkswagen is not new to this question mark, and the third generation Touareg seems to make (even more) sense this round, than the one before it, and the one before that.
The Touraeg is Volkswagen’s most luxurious offering since the Phaeton. Anyway, the latter was built as proof that a brand which carries the mark of the “everyman car” is able to out-engineer the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The Touareg, in a way does a little of this too, but with a more practical mission of delivering a large SUV, loaded with quality and luxury appointments usually found in cars in a different class. While the big German 3 would have to be forced to look quite the same as cars up and down the range. The Touareg on the other hand, easily stands out, with its expressive styling.
As the trend of massive grills go, the Touareg’s large horizontally designed grille dips seamlessly into the headlamp clusters, which gives it a sense of added girth; and it is wider than its predecessor by 44mm. Length-wise, the Touareg is 4,878mm in length, 77mm longer.
A pinch in the sheet metal on the side, visually splits the lower and upper segments of its side profile, while offering a sense of lightness. A slightly blistered rear quarters hint of a slightly wider rear track.
Volkswagen has also tidied up on rear-end styling, with slimmer LED tail lamps, and the car does look truly luxurious overall.
There is no escaping its ginormous 15” infotainment screen, which is part of the Innovision Cockpit. The system consists of the glass-covered infotainment display, which merges near-seamlessly with its 12.3” Digital Cockpit, which is further complemented by a windshield-projected Head-up Display. Operation is highly intuitive, with touch-hold-select and swiping functions; Inclusive of gesture control, which adds another dimension to operating the system. Unlike the system found on BMW cars, where the overhead sensor picks up a good number different gestures, the VW’s simpler forward-facing sensors on the other hand, only picks up left and right swipes.
Audio quality is simply lovely, and is supplied via a premium Dynaudio Consequence system, featuring 13 speakers with subwoofer, and is powered by a 16-channel digital amplifier.
App-Connect supports smartphone connectivity through Bluetooth and Volkswagen Media Control. Apart from a customisable user interface, the large 15” screen makes it easier to refer to, even when the map is not displayed in fullscreen mode. A digitised instrument cluster adds to flexibility, and works quite similar to the system used by Audi. Ambient lighting is also customisable, with up to 30 shades of your choice.
Unfortunately, the Touareg does not come equipped with a wireless charging pad, which should be quite common in this day and age. Another gripe I have is its steering wheel design, while it may suit the other cars in the Volkswagen stable, it does not look in the right place, surrounded by a more expensive interior.
The Touareg is heavily based on sister cars, the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q8, and like them, its spacious interior easily houses occupants in comfort, with plenty of legroom for three rear-seating passengers. Its large electric sunroof, coupled with plenty of window surface area, and subtle interior lighting ensures a well-lit cabin. Front electric seats are ventilated/heated and also offer massage; great for those longer days out and about. Its supremely large sunroof’s sunshade takes almost 20 seconds to retract, and I could not stop smiling at the whole process, as it does clearly demonstrate the scale of this car. The amount of light it allows into the cabin is certainly welcoming.
Cargo room is generous with 810 litres available (160 litres more than the BMW X5) and the foldable 40:20:40 style rear seats which can slide forward, adds to added cargo loading flexibility. Folding them down brings about another 1,000 litres of room for hauling. The air suspension on the R-Line trim car also can be further lowered by 40mm at the rear for easier loading and unloading.
Under the hood, the proven 3.0 V6 twin-scroll single-turbo charged Volkswagen/Audi Porsche unit delivers an impressive 340ps at 5,300rpm and 450Nm from a range of 1,340-5,300rpm, and delivers the drive to creamy-smooth effect. Mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox, and with Volkswagen’s 4-MOTION permanent all-wheel drive system. The 4-MOTION system is able to transfer up to 70% of its drive to the front and 80% to the rear, when required, ensuring optimum grip when weight is transferred. Acceleration to 100km/h is impressive, at a mere 5.9 seconds.
In R-Line trim, the Volkswagen Touareg is equipped with four-wheel steering, which reduces the turning circle (from 12.19m to 11.19m) by slightly facing the rear wheels in the opposite direction for better maneuverability; the equivalent of shrinking the the car’s footprint within confined spaces. At speeds above 37km/h, the rear wheels follow the ones in-front, essentially delivering higher speed stability, equivalent to a car with a longer wheelbase.
Ride comfort is further enhanced by a self-levelling air suspension, which also provides added stability at higher speeds by lowering itself by between 15mm to 25mm. The suspension is able to raise itself up to 70mm higher, for better clearance, which may come in handy once in 50 years in Singapore, at the twist of the ride height adjustment knob.
A well-insulated interior also adds to the Tourag’s refinement, with very little distractions from the outside entering the cabin.
Driving at night is also made easier with Volkswagen’s all-new ‘IQ.Light’ LED matrix headlight system. Consisting of a matrix of intelligent controls, the system works in tandem with a forward-facing camera, and is able to illuminate a course of a bend, before a driver turns into it. A complex assembly of 128 LEDs per headlamp is built to offer precise illumination, and ensures that selected LEDs are shut, so as not to dazzle other road users.
Also included in our test car, the Traffic Jam Assist, which lets the Touareg to respond to stop-and-go traffic situations, essentially drive itself semi-autonomously.
A suite of active safety features, like side assist with rear traffic alert, helps to prevent sideswipes. A radar sensor in-front is also able to monitor the distance of vehicles ahead, to speeds of up to 65km/h, providing warnings to the driver, and will activate the brakes if no action is taken. The system also is able to identify pedestrians.
While the Touareg might be feature-loaded, and is also able to auto park itself, the one crucial missing feature, especially for a car its size and at its price, is its 360-degree bird’s eye view camera.
Comfortable, luxurious and rather massive… the Touareg is a very capable SUV. Well-built from the ground up, we love how premium a car their flagship truly is.
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