Volkswagen Touareg

It's as hard as nails, but requires far less effort to drive in. No, we're not talking about an all-new DIY product. In fact, we're talking about the toughest version yet of Volkswagen's Touareg off-roader.

Creating an off-road image from scratch is never going to be easy, but as well as entering the Dakar rally, VW's decision to offer a focused off-road Touareg proves the firm is serious about diversifying into different markets. And while it might look rough and macho, the Expedition is a cool and composed companion from behind the wheel.

It's as hard as nails, but requires far less effort to drive in. No, we're not talking about an all-new DIY product. In fact, we're talking about the toughest version yet of Volkswagen's Touareg off-roader. Badged Expedition, the newcomer emphasises the luxury SUV's off-road abilities, in the same way as Land Rover did with G4 versions of its Discovery and Range Rover.

Unlike the British company, VW has no off-roading heritage to fall back on - the Expedition is charged with creating one. And the German firm's designers have pulled out all the stops, for this is no ordinary Touareg. Instead of simply bolting on adventure goodies, VW has redesigned the car from the ground up.

The most significant changes include a moulded spare wheel holder on the rear door, while the entire lower half of the body is clad in deformable plastic to absorb impacts from rocks and banks. The rest of the exterior is finished in an exclusive shade called Off-Road Grey Metallic, harbouring no secrets about the Touareg's mud-plugging intentions.

Differential, axle, steering and petrol tank guards protect the underside, while further distinctive touches include a bespoke roof rack with powerful spotlamps, a built-in pop-up roof tent and a winch mounted in the front bumper.

The 17-inch wheels look lost underneath the Touareg's meaty exterior, but there's a good reason for them being there. Not only do the smaller diameter rims mean there's less chance of the alloys being damaged on rough surfaces, but they also allow for special tyres with toughened sidewalls, designed to take rocks and ruts in their stride. So how does the Touareg Expedition fare when it comes to the mucky stuff? Well, it drives pretty much like the standard Touareg, but that doesn't mean off-road fans will be disappointed, for even without all the survival gear, VW's SUV is a tough cookie.

The adjustable air-suspension and excellent traction control system mean it will take almost anything in its stride, while the extra body and chassis protection give you confidence to scale obstacles that you wouldn't dare attack in a standard Touareg.

Yet despite the hard exterior, the Expedition is a comfortable companion on the road. The interior is just as luxurious as a normal model, with soft leather seats and a top-of-the-range stereo and sat-nav system.

Our test car was fitted with VW's five-cylinder 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine, which, in effect, is half a bank of the V10 fitted to flagship Touaregs. The unit provides good mid-range torque and cruising ability, but even in the standard car it struggles to give lively acceleration, so with the Expedition's extra kit it's never going to be first away from the traffic lights.

But that's not what this model is about. As a demonstration of what can be achieved by VW with its full-size off-roader, the Touareg Expedition is both an ultra-competent and imposing beast. However, buyers in the UK will have to wait for a decision on whether or not it will come here.

Elements of its styling will certainly be available as accessories via dealers, but whether we'll get the stand-alone model that's set to go on sale across Europe remains to be seen. If you want one, then get down to your local VW dealer and hammer the point home.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge - front
Volvo XC40

New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950

Volvo has revised the electric XC40’s pricing and trim-level structure, with a simplified three-tier system
22 Jun 2021