Volkswagen Touareg review
The VW Touareg off-roader is a capable and luxurious family car – but it doesn't come cheap
The Volkswagen Touareg is available in 'Escape' or 'Altitude' trims, with the former offering more off-road capability for buyers who do actually need the Touareg's mud-plugging talents. In reality the Touareg will spend much of its life on tarmac, and Volkswagen has ensured it shines on-road for that very reason. It's comfortable, refined, sharp to drive and there's even the option of a petrol-electric hybrid set-up – although the 3.0 V6 diesel is actually more efficient.
Our choice: Touareg 3.0 TDI V6 SE
The Touareg gets chunky off-road looks, but without the boxy shape of a Land Rover Discovery. Instead, it gets a more sporty look, much like the Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q7. If you opt for Escape models, you get a different front end, which allows for more ground clearance and underbody protection. Altitude variants get a more stylish but less practical design. High spec models, including the Hybrid get LED daytime running lights as standard – a costly option on all other variants.
If you're being sensible, the 3.0-litre TDI V6 is really all the engine you'll ever need. It's available with 201bhp or 242bhp, and the latter of the two feels extremely quick, especially during overtaking. The Hybrid model is quicker still and can be driven for short distances at low speeds on electric power alone, making for an extremely quiet drive. The range-topping 4.2-litre V8 TDI is quicker than most hot hatches. Ride comfort is top-notch, and the handling is as tight as you'll get in the SUV market – the steering could do with a little more feedback, though.
Euro NCAP hasn't yet tested the Touareg for safety, but the old car received a five-star rating, and we expect no different from this new model. It comes with nine airbags as standard and a host of hi-tech safety gadgets. As far as reliability is concerned, the Touareg should be as bulletproof as the rest of Volkswagen's range - even the hi-tech Hybrid model should prove to be completely trouble free.
The rear seats in the Touareg can be moved back and forth depending on the need for legroom or boot space. It's also incredibly easy to fold the seats down by using a button located in the boot. With the seats down the load area is a cavernous 1,642-litres. Rear parking sensors are fitted as standard and a long wheelbase means there's plenty of room in the rear for passengers. The middle seat may be uncomfortable but there’s room for three tall adults. The cabin is sleek with even entry-level SE models getting leather seats, climate control, DAB radio and rear parking sensors.
Strangely the Hybrid model is bettered for economy by the 3.0-litre V6 TDI. The Hybrid manages just 34.2mpg, while the diesel is capable of 40.4mpg. It's a similar story for CO2 emissions, and with a price tag that's substantially higher, we'd recommend avoiding the Hybrid. Unless you're really after a four-wheel drive rocketship, we'd also recommend avoiding the 4.2-litre V8 TDI, as fuel and tax costs will be sky high. A fixed-price service plan covers the Touareg for up to three years and 30,000 miles.