£43,990 - £49,950 Price range
The original Volkswagen Touareg was famous for offering a 5.0-litre V10 diesel engine that made it one of the most powerful models in its class.
Sadly, the second generation model (released in 2010) signalled its demise, but the new car offers much of what the old one did – it’s a big SUV that’s cheaper to buy than an equivalent BMW X5, Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90. That last point is particularly true if you factor in the average £5,890 saving you’ll make if you buy one via carwow.
Despite offering more space inside, the new Touareg is 10 per cent lighter than the model it replaces. Its interior is also solidly built, but lacks the premium feel of the upmarket models the Touareg competes with.
The quality of the drive is much improved. It may not offer the thrills of a BMW X5, but some testers report it feels like a big Golf to drive – an impressive feat for something so large.
Volkswagen hasn’t bothered offering a petrol option (sales would simply be too low) instead buyers get two 3.0-litre diesels to choose from, with either 204 or 262hp. Both offer decent performance, but fall behind the best in class in terms of fuel economy.
Take a look at our Touareg dimensions guide to see how it might fit into your life. If you’re not in a rush to buy one, check out our preview of the recently announced replacement for the Volkswagen Touareg – expected in late 2017.
Cheapest to buy: 3.0-litre 204 SE
Cheapest to run: 3.0-litre 204 SE
Fastest model: 3.0-litre 262 SE
Most popular model: 3.0-litre 262 R-Line
Get comfortable in the driver’s seat of the Touareg and you’ll be greeted by a dashboard that is neatly laid out and simple to use for a car that features such a lot of gadgets. Plastic quality is of a high standard and there are plenty of useful storage spaces, including two centre cupholders.
What’s not so great is the design its self. It lacks the modernity of the Audi Q7 or the sporty touches of the BMW X5. It can also be had with garish wood trim that we would advise steering well clear off.
Volkswagen Touareg passenger space
The wheelbase in the new Touareg has been increased by 40mm and that’s most telling in the back, where you’ll find an abundance of rear legroom and a seat that can be slid back and forth for even more legroom or extra boot space. Passenger space up front is also excellent and the VW’s tall SUV body means there is plenty of headroom, too. What there isn’t, though, is the option to fit a pair of extra seats in the boot, which puts it at a distinct disadvantage against models such as the X5 and Q7.
Volkswagen Touareg boot space
With 580 litres to play with, the Touareg’s boot sounds big enough on paper, and for most people’s needs it probably is. But most rivals now offer more – an Audi Q7 gives a huge 770 litres, the BMW X5 650 litres and the Volvo XC90 450 litres, even with all its seven seats in use. Nevertheless, the VW’s boot lid reveals a huge opening and there’s no lip to lift heavy luggage over.
Our Touareg dimensions guide gives a full break down of the car’s exterior and interior measurements.
We haven’t driven the new Touareg, but testers report it is almost as easy to manoeuvre as a VW Golf. Thy say the steering is accurate enough to make it easy to thread through tight city streets (helped by the excellent view from the high driving position), while on quick A-roads there’s little body lean and the car feels agile and nimble.
The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox offers smooth changes, but reviewers say it can be slow to change down gear for fast overtakes. Although you can always change down using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
Unlike some of its rivals (the X5 sticks out here), the Touareg is a handy off-roader thanks to a switch that lets you set up the car for a variety of off-road conditions. All models also come with hill descent, which allows the car to safely tackle steep inclines.
Volkswagen Touareg towing capacity
Thanks to being a heavy four-wheel-drive drive, all Touaregs have an impressive maximum towing capacity of 3,500kgs.
The Touareg is only available with diesels engines – buyers get two 3.0-litre models to choose from.
The basic car offers 204hp and 332Ib ft of torque. It’s the latter figure that is of most relevance in a car like this and allows the VW to get from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. Fuel economy comes in at 42.8mpg, while CO2 emissions of 172g/km mean that road tax is £205 a year.
Go for the more powerful model (with 262hp and 423Ib ft of torque) and running costs go up slightly – fuel economy now sits at 40.9mpg and your annual tax bill will be £225 – but, as it shaves more than a second off the 0-62mph time, we think it’s worth the extra cost.
The biggest problem for the Touareg is the competition. A new Q7 fitted with a 272hp diesel engine is not only quite a bit quicker than the VW, 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds, it is also cheaper to run thanks to an official fuel economy figure of 47.9mpg.
A read of the reviews below shows that this is the engine to avoid in the Touareg range. It makes big claims for fuel economy at 34mpg, but many testers found it hard to keep the car in its electric-only mode around town and efficiency suffered as a result. If you have a light right foot, electric-only range can be coaxed to two miles.
The engine itself, a 3.0 supercharged V6, offers more than enough pace for most people with 375bhp on offer, 60mph in less than 8 seconds and a 135mph top speed. It’s smooth and powerful but the 8-speed auto gearbox is criticised for being occasionally jerky and slow to respond. It has a manual mode, but no steering wheel paddles.
The 3.0 TDI Touareg is the volume seller of the range and offers far better economy for a lot less money than the hybrid, without too much to sacrifice in terms of performance. Reviews of the engine are positive all round, praising its torque and good responses, with refinement good enough to make you forget it’s drinking diesel.
Fuel economy of around 40mpg means road tax of £210 per year, making it the cheapest Touareg to run. Critics like the performance and the smooth shifts from the 8-speed automatic gearbox, and stop-start technology helps the economy too. Some testers do note that economy drops steeply if you use all of the car’s performance though.
Reviews of the V8 diesel Touareg are positive. It may be marginally the least economical and most expensive model in the range, but testers reckon day-to-day economy would beat the hybrid version and the V8 engine is excellent, with more power and greater economy than the huge V10 diesel found in the old Touareg.Critics say the engine is smooth, powerful and quiet and mates perfectly with the slick 8-speed automatic transmission. Performance is described as “deceptive” as the sub-6 second 0-60 time and 150mph top speed are incredibly easy to access, thanks to the V8’s refinement. The 31mpg economy should easily match the Touareg’s competitors. Road tax is £445 a year, so this still isn’t a cheap car to run!
Although Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the latest Touareg for its crash safety, but it is expected to pass the tests with a good score.
Rigid structure and four-wheel-drive system aside, the standard safety equipment list is long, with six airbags, Isofix child-seat mounts, and driver aids like ESP (Electronic Stability Program), ABS, hill descent control, and parking sensors, and a fatigue alert.
You can even add options like adaptive cruise control (complete with the ability to brake automatically!), and an Airbag pack – which adds another airbag for the driver’s knee and rear side impact airbags – thus taking the total airbag count to nine.
The Touareg can be had in three trim levels: SE, Escape and R-Line. Even the basic model’s equipment levels are hard to fault. It comes as standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, DAB digital radio, sat-nav and a leather interior.
Volkswagen Touareg Escape
Volkswagen is almost unique in offering an off-road-ready model of the Touareg. Called the Escape, it comes fitted with a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system than can send an equal amount of power to the front and back wheels, which helps it find grip in the slipperiest of conditions; guards that protect the underbody from scrapes, heavy duty off-road suspension and washers that keep the headlights clean.
Volkswagen Touareg R-Line
R-Line trim sits at the top of the range and come with a butch body kit and huge 20-inch alloy wheels that give the Touareg a sporty edge. It also gets luxury equipment such as keyless entry, a panoramic glass sunroof and an electrically operated boot lid.
Volkswagen Touareg R-Line Plus
The Touareg R Line Plus trim adds 21-inch alloy wheels, piano-black interior trim, four-way adjustable headrests and front, rear and side-view cameras to the standard R Line model’s specification.
The changes made to the 2010 Volkswagen Toureg have done a lot to keep the car fresh, but 2015 has brought a raft of new models – namely the new Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 – and both are better than the VW in almost all respects.
They feel more luxurious inside, offer more space, are cheaper to run and have the prized seven seats – crucial in this class. A relatively cheap price and some hefty discounts mean the Touareg is still worth a look, but there are much better SUVs out there.