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Volkswagen Touareg TDI

SUV has been refined in all areas – so we deliver our verdict

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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There wasn’t much wrong with the old Touareg – but this fresh version is still a huge leap forward. The restyle is a great success, creating a sleek and attractive vehicle with a luxurious interior. Thanks to a drastic weight-loss programme and new engines, the car offers improved fuel economy, emissions and performance. VW has paid realattention to the details, too: the cockpit feels intuitively laid out, there’s much more space inside and added features such as the Area View cameras are very welcome. All in all, the new Touareg is a capable and desirable premium SUV.

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Leaner, meaner and greener... it’s the all-new Touareg! But Volkswagen’s popular SUV is still recognisable, despite a number of styling updates.

At the front it features the same family face as the Golf and Polo, with the addition of a U-shaped line of LEDs around the headlights. The model is bigger than before – 41mm longer and 12mm wider, with a wheelbase extended by 38mm – yet it seems smaller, more muscular and more focused.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Touareg

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Sharper lines and concave side panels help create a more agile look, as do the lower roof and the fact the body sits 12mm closer to the ground. VW has put the Touareg on a serious diet, too: thanks to the use of aluminium and a lighter powertrain, the SUV has shed more than 200kg.

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The leather and wood interior is luxurious and comfortable, while the chrome and aluminium flourishes finish things off nicely. Redesigned seats make long-distance driving a breeze, and that extended wheelbase gives a real sense of space in the back – something the old model lacked.

Eye-catching

The version we drove had an eye-catching seven-inch colour centre screen. However, this doesn’t come as standard on all variants – most get a smaller five-inch monochrome unit.

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The menu system is intuitive and the attractive black console sits neatly in a hi-tech, logically laid-out cockpit. Kit also includes all-direction Area View cameras, which offer a 360-degree scan of the Touareg’s surroundings on the centre console, while the bird’s-eye view set-up is a bonus.

VW is keen to stress that it has added stop-start on all engines, as well as regenerative braking and a newly developed eight-speed automatic box. As a result, fuel consumption is improved by around 20 per cent. The base 236bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel – the most economical variant – offers 38.1mpg. Other engine options comprise a 335bhp 4.2 V8 and a 375bhp 3.0 petrol hybrid (driven opposite), which promise 31mpg and 34.4mpg respectively.

We tried the V6 turbodiesel, and were impressed with its punchy and smooth performance. It covers 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and reaches 135mph. The auto shifts faster than in the old model, and the lighter kerbweight and excellent handling mean the Touareg feels like a much smaller and more nimble vehicle. It is comfortable and refined, too.

Rival: Mercedes ML300 CDI
Now that the new Touareg has headed upmarket, the M-Class is in its sights. The Merc certainly has class and quality, as well as amazing comfort and refinement. Latest BlueEFFICIENCY models such as the base 201bhp 3.0-litre diesel can return 33mpg and do 0-60mph in around eight seconds. At £40,165, the ML 300 CDI is more costly than the VW, though.

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