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Volkswagen Touareg 4×4 (2010 – ) expert review

By Ian Robertson, 22nd November 2010

The verdict

The Volkswagen Touareg is both lighter and more fuel-efficient than the previous model, is better to drive, and now includes a hybrid edition.

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Expert rating:

3.6

Pros

  • Refined, with punchy performance.
  • Good ride and handling.
  • Economical, with low CO2.

Cons

  • No seven-seat option.
  • Cabin isn’t special enough.
  • Key is fiddly.

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Volkswagen Touareg has been redesigned to share its front end styling with the Polo and Golf, and looks all the better for it. The rear end adopts a smoother and slimmer appearance with the rear light clusters adopting a distinctive L-shaped signature at night. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Touareg appears less bulky, despite it actually being larger than before. It is 41mm longer than its predecessor, with most of the extra length having been added into the wheelbase to give greater cabin space. The new car is also wider and squatter.

Our rating: 3

2. Interior

Like all Volkswagen products, quality and attention to detail are excellent. And while the design and layout of the cabin is attractive, it narrowly misses the mark as it lacks the wow factor and plushness that other 4×4s of this ilk normally have. Everything feels reassuringly solid and well put-together, with soft-touch plastics and tactile materials used throughout. The metal finish on the dashboard lifts the ambience, though the wood trim looks old-fashioned. The instruments and dials are clear both at night and during the day, with neat and crisp graphics.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Space inside the Touareg is excellent, particularly in the rear where passengers have a vast amount of legroom, headroom and shoulder room. With the seats in place, there’s 580 litres of luggage space, and 1,642 litres with them folded, which is smaller than both the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. The boot space and rear seat accommodation can be balanced, though, according to the owner’s needs, thanks to a rear seat that slides back and forth, and also reclines. The driving position is comfortable with a command style view out on the road ahead, while the plush leather seats offer plenty of adjustment. For caravan owners, the towing capacity is a hefty 3,500kg on all models.

Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

The Touareg is no racing car, but feels well-planted, safe and secure. It is much more elegant in its operation than its predecessor and soaks up the lumps and bumps with aplomb. Body control is decent for a large sports utility vehicle (SUV) and belies its overall size, although the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport would be more suitable as a driver’s car. The steering is much more communicative than you would expect.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

There’s plenty of get up and go whichever engine you choose, with all models offering sub-eight second zero to 62mph figures. Depending on engine choice, the top speed ranges from 135 to 150mph. The new eight-speed automatic gearbox is both smooth and responsive but can be slow to kick down. The engine sound is therapeutic, ranging from the super smooth V6 thrum to muscular V8 burble.

Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

Thanks to the integration of some of the tricks Volkswagen has learnt from its BlueMotion technology, costs are pared to a minimum on entry-level V6 models. CO2 emissions of 195g/km and an average 38.2mpg put the Touareg close to the top of the tree, only beaten by the Lexus RX 450h hybrid. V8 TDI models aren’t quite so kind to the environment, achieving 31mpg and 239g/km of CO2. The Touareg hybrid emits 193g/km of CO2 and returns 34.4mpg.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Volkswagen never seems to do particularly well in reliability surveys, but owners tend to be pretty happy, and that is what really matters. The previous generation Touareg always turned in an average performance, and it is expected that the new car will equal, if not better that. Volkswagen dealers are well regarded for their customer service skills.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

The latest Touareg hasn’t yet been tested by Euro NCAP – the crash test safety watchdog. However, the previous model scored a five-star safety rating, and the new model is expected to perform just as well. All models come with driver, passenger, side and head airbags, though knee airbags and rear side airbags are relegated to the options list. As well as the reassurance of four-wheel-drive, there’s a full complement of electronic safety devices to keep both driver and passengers safe. Other innovative devices include a lane departure warning system and a blind spot information system.

Our rating: 3

9. Equipment

All models come with a decent level of standard kit, and include alloy wheels, leather seats, multi-zone air-con, sat-nav, digital radio, front and rear parking sensors and that innovative stop and start technology to keep fuel bills down on V6 versions. Key optional equipment includes air suspension, a panoramic sunroof and adaptive cruise control, along with a whole host of different alloy wheel choices and upgrades to the interior trim.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Compared with the opposition, the Touareg is well-priced, with all of its German rivals costing several thousand pounds more. It’s good to drive, with a surefooted feel to it, and doesn’t wallow like many large 4×4s do.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.6stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability3
  • Safety3
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Touareg SE 3.0 V6 TDI

Low CO2 emissions and a 38.2mpg average make it a winner.

Best seller:

Touareg Altitude 3.0 V6 TDI

Plenty of kit and a frugal engine lures the most buyers.

Blow the budget:

Touareg Altitude 3.0 V6 TDI

Great engine and lots of goodies makes this a dream drive.

Like all Volkswagen products, quality and attention to detail are excellent