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30 Jun, 2019 12:00pm Pete Gibson
First report: the stylish new Volkswagen Touareg SUV has splashed down on the Auto Express fleet. What are our first impressions?
This is the newest addition to our fleet, the Volkswagen Touareg – and as you can see, it’s already making a splash. Our model is fitted with air suspension, which is a fantastic extra. It means the car can lower itself for better aerodynamics on the motorway, boosting economy, or raise the body for more ground clearance.
This function is perfect for taking on fords, which has already come in very handy. Recently, on the way to pick up my kids from a camping trip, I found my route blocked by water – yet the Touareg’s raised ride height made fording the flood easy, and I arrived in good time to collect them.
Our car also includes a self-levelling function, off-road modes and rear-wheel steering, which has been really useful for parking. This Touareg doesn’t only have air suspension, though – it features the Professional Chassis Pack (£4,890), which includes all of the above as well as an innovative set-up that incorporates electromechanical anti-roll bars. These work to eliminate body roll and improve stability on rough, uneven road surfaces. We’ll learn more about the system once we have spent more time in the car, but the Touareg’s agility with this set-up included is quite remarkable. It’s much more tied down than I expected considering its huge size.
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Our new VW has so much technology on board that I’m having trouble taking it all in. I reckon it’ll be several months before I get used to everything. A huge 15-inch touchscreen is fitted on the dashboard, blending into a digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.
It’s called the Innovision Cockpit, and it hasn’t failed to impress anyone who gets in the car so far. The huge screen is a sign of things to come in the automotive world, because buyers are getting used to ever-larger digital displays in all areas of their lives. However, the VW’s is one of the biggest I’ve come across. It makes seeing where I’m going on the sat-nav easy, although I can also display that on the digital dashboard.
The rest of the cabin is great, too, with comfortable seats and plenty of good-quality materials, so I have no complaints about spending time behind the wheel.
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The engine is another highlight, because it’s a real powerhouse. With 228bhp, ours is the least powerful motor available in the Touareg range, yet I can’t see why you would want more. It has 500Nm of torque, which is more than enough for me; I can overtake pretty much anything I want with a small squeeze of the throttle. It doesn’t need to be revved hard to add speed, because all that torque is produced low in the rev range. This means it stays nice and quiet, too.
When I first saw the Touareg in the company car park, I did worry that it might be too big for me. However, this model is so easy to drive that I’ve forgotten all about my concerns – and that’s partly thanks to the rear-wheel steering, which reduces the turning circle at low speed.
Also, all the various cameras and sensors work really well, and I haven’t felt uncomfortable parking the big SUV at all. A testament to technology is that it can turn one of the biggest cars I’ve ever run into something that’s as easy to park as a family saloon. The car’s hi-tech nature also means that it resists body roll much more than other SUVs of this size that I’ve tried.
Of course, such a huge car means there’s loads of boot space as well: a gigantic 810 litres with the seats in place. This isn’t a seven-seater model, so there’s extra room in the luggage area compared with rivals such as the Audi Q7. It’s a bit odd that VW doesn’t offer a version of the Touareg with seven seats, but I have no need for the extra people capacity so this doesn’t bother me.
In fact, the huge boot meant that when I went to collect my kids from camping, I had no trouble fitting all of their gear in the back. And now that the VW has started work as my photographer’s transport, I’ve discovered it eats up all of my camera and car-cleaning gear without any trouble at all. I love spending my working week travelling in comfort, too – so the next six months with the Touareg should be great.
* Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
4.5 The new Volkswagen Touareg is making waves already on our fleet. It offers photographer Pete all the space and comfort he needs for his job, along with a big helping of technology.
- Model: VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 231PS 4MOTION R-Line
- On fleet since: April 2019
- Price: £52,635
- Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel, 228bhp
- CO2/tax: 173g/km/£455
- Options: Premium paint (£1,780), Driver’s Assistant Pack Plus (£860), Professional Chassis Pack (£4,890), leather seats (£820), heated seats (£250), keyless entry (£50), 21-inch alloys (£750), tyre-pressure monitoring (£170)
- Insurance: Group: 39/Quote: £678
- Mileage: 2,367
- Economy: 46.3mpg
- Any problems?: None so far