• The Mk2 model, also based on the Porsche Cayenne, is lighter, roomier and more economical than the first
  • It may be a diesel, but the twin pipes look as purposeful as on any petrol car
  • The alloy trim plate on the sills gives the impression of a raised ride height
  • The gently rising waistline adds dynamism to the design
  • Bi-xenon lights include ‘curve lighting’ which enables better vision when cornering at night
  • Cabin quality is strong, as is basic equipment level, but interior design is flat compared to rivals
  • Burr walnut trim gives the cabin a premium feel, as does standard leather trim
  • Rear bench has plenty of adjustability and there’s plenty of leg room
  • The Touareg has a 1642-litre capacity with the seats down
  • Standard sat-nav is a great addition to the Touareg
  • Dials are easy to read. Central display has excellent resolution
  • Torque is something the 245 2.0 TDI Touareg has in abundance – 406lb ft of the stuff
  • Much-improved ride and handling make the new Touareg feel like a big Golf
  • 245 V6 TDI has stop-start tech; it’s seamless
  • The VW Touareg is fundamentally a safe car, but also a surprisingly fun one
  • The Touareg is quite incredibly well composed if you drive it quickly
  • The VW Touareg is the best-value car in the class and arguably the least pretentious

VW is proud not just of the Touareg’s weight loss but also its much-improved dynamic composure, and it doesn’t take long behind the wheel to realise why. On the move, the Touareg feels nimble and agile in a way you simply wouldn’t expect from a vehicle as big and cumbersome looking as this. 

Apart from its higher-than-usual driving position, in many ways it feels much like a slightly bigger Golf on the road. Even body roll – the normal bane of the large off-roader – is mostly kept in check. This, plus the soft damping, creates a well-resolved ride with decent levels of bump absorption, although there is still some noticeable body rock over bigger disturbances in the road surface.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Touareg feels nimble and agile in a way you simply wouldn’t expect

As for the steering, it’s almost spooky how well resolved it feels. Here more than anywhere, VW’s engineers have surpassed themselves, somehow managing to provide the Touareg with light, crisp, accurate steering that allows you to place it on the road with much the same precision as you would a Golf. As an on-road off-roader, it’s hard to think of any rival, at any price, that is more convincing.

If you are truly serious about your mud plugging, the heavier-duty 4XMotion Escape model will be more your thing. Even so, by rotating a simple switch down by the gearlever you can alter the ABS, EDS (differential) and ASR (stability/traction control) systems, while at the same time activating a hill descent control function and the gearbox software to make the Touareg instantly more capable off road. 

In practice, even the regular model has more ability off road than most owners would dream possible; we failed to get it stuck on several occasions, so think hard before opting for the more hardcore 4X version.

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