New Volkswagen Touareg ride review

We taken for a ride in the new Volkswagen Touareg SUV ahead of its official arrival

The new Volkswagen Touareg is being put on ice – literally. In preparation for a refresh that will see it through the second half of its lifespan, the brand’s flagship SUV has come to Arvidsjaur in northern Sweden to undergo cold-weather testing, and we’ve joined the development team to get an early taste of what we can expect.

The Touareg is more than two decades old as a model, and the current version was introduced in 2018 – so this is a relatively late facelift, by car industry standards. And on initial inspection it looks like a fairly mild tweak; there are presumably fresh bumpers beneath the complex camo wrap, but as far as the VW’s engines are concerned, for example, things do appear to have been frozen pretty solid.

The V6 diesel is still available, and with the same two power levels – 228bhp and 282bhp. The V6 petrol is still there too, again with 335bhp – and across Europe, VW will continue to offer it as part of a plug-in hybrid set-up with two variants: 376bhp or, as the R model, 456bhp.

However, there are some subtle changes beyond what’s happening under the bonnet. This Touareg gets a new look at the front, courtesy of triple headlights incorporating a new light signature and high-definition matrix-LED technology that features 19,200 micro LEDs in each lens. In the frozen gloom, the new system certainly does a better job of lighting up the road ahead. What’s more, the tech automatically adjusts its glare to the correct lane.

The biggest shift could come in how the Touareg itself behaves – because while the vehicle will continue to be offered with a choice of steel springs or air suspension, VW’s engineers have revisited the chassis tune in a bid to create a greater spread between its various driving modes.

So, Comfort mode will be softer than ever, whereas Sport will offer a greater dynamic focus to match the car’s performance. A new roof-load sensor, connected to the chassis electronics, is supposed to help deliver this shift – and, in the right conditions, allow the car to be more agile than before. There are active anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering, too; but winter test conditions being what they are, sadly we’re not able to put the elements to the test just yet.

The interior remains broadly the same, with a digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel, and a 15-inch touchscreen in the middle. However, there is news on the software front: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now work wirelessly, and the in-house navigation system has been treated to better mapping data, along with overall improvements in voice control. The cabin’s USB-C sockets get an upgrade, too; they’ll be able to charge at 45W, triple the capacity of the existing set-up.

The new Touareg will be unveiled in full in May, and it’s expected to go on sale in the summer. Full specs and prices remain under wraps for now, but given the increases in specification, we’d expect a small rise in base price, probably to around £58,000.

Model: Volkswagen Touareg
Price: From £58,000 (est)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Power/torque: 228bhp/500Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds (est)
Top speed: 138mph (est)
Economy: 35mpg (est)
CO2: 213g/km (est)
On sale: Summer

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