Next time you get stuck behind a car towing a caravan, count yourself lucky - you could be behind this...
To show off the towing capabilities of the 5.0-litre V10 diesel Touareg, VW decided it would be a good idea to hitch it up to a 155-tonne Boeing 747. We tried it, and it went without a hitch (other than the one connecting the car to the plane, but you get the idea).
It's simple – all we had to do was get in, select low-ratio, put it in second gear and feather the throttle. At around 1500rpm, with no wheel-spinning and very little drama, the whole thing started to move. Once going, it was only the faintly alarming sight of the Jumbo's massive nosewheels in the rear-view mirror that reminded us we weren't towing any ordinary load. And with no brakes on the Jumbo, you stop simply by coming off the throttle, but you’d be amazed at how much momentum there is.
The aeroplane was a disused Boeing 747-200. The eagle-eyed may notice that its engines look a bit different - that's because they're fake, the jumbo having been used as a film prop. But VW added extra ballast to take the 747 up to its normal operational weight of 155 tonnes. Other than the odd engines, the Boeing was all real - right down to the 500 seats on board.
The Touareg was also production-spec, though it too had a bit of ballast added. Around 4.3 tonnes, in fact. That wasn't all our driver, either… The ballast – steel plates under the front and bags of steel pellets throughout the interior of the car – helps prevent the Touareg from pulling a wheelie down the runway. It also takes the total weight of the car, including driver, to around 7030kg.
Amazingly, the Touareg's air suspension and wheels are standard. The tyres are also standard, though inflated to around twice their normal pressure at 65psi. In fact, the only modification to the car is that its axle ratio is from the V8 petrol model, rather than the V10's standard item. Even the towing connector was a standard US-spec item. And the engine (all 5.0 litres, 309bhp and 553lb ft of it) was also unchanged.