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.
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.