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.

Top 5 Large SUVs

  • Range Rover Sport
    The new Sport, from a keen driver’s point of view, might just be the best SUV in the world at the moment

    Range Rover Sport

    1
  • The Porsche Cayenne is available as a hybrid for the first time

    Porsche Cayenne

    2
  • BMW X5
    The X5 uses in effect the same platform as the previous generation, but it's been substantially revised

    BMW X5

    3
  • Land Rover Discovery
    The Discovery really is the defining go-anywhere super-utility vehicle

    Land Rover Discovery

    4
  • The Mk2 model, also based on the Porsche Cayenne, is lighter, roomier and more economical than the first

    Volkswagen Touareg

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volkswagen range

Driven this week

  • The new X5 M costs from £90,170
    First Drive
    27 April 2015
    Whether the original BMW X5 M has diluted the brand is a moot point. However, there's no doubt that this second iteration is a cracking car
  • First Drive
    27 April 2015
    The original S-Max was a game changer – your only option if you wanted a fun, seven-seat MPV. The new model aims to be the same, only better.
  • First Drive
    24 April 2015
    Space and practicality has never been an issue for the Seat Leon ST, and thanks to a Cupra 280 engine it's now fast, too - but does it gel as a package?
  • First Drive
    24 April 2015
    Ariel's third model is the best yet - in fact, it's one of the best driving experiences we've ever had
  • Car review
    23 April 2015
    Mazda's Skyactiv tech revolution transforms its cheapest model