Third-generation SUV gets new technology and road-biased styling as firm targets affluent buyers in Europe and China
James Attwood, digital editor
23 March 2018

Volkswagen says the new Touareg represents the “biggest leap forward” in the history of the SUV, as the car maker attempts to push its flagship model further into premium territory.

The third-generation SUV, unveiled in Beijing, has been redesigned with new technology, road-focused styling and a revamped interior that is dominated by VW’s new Innovision Cockpit.

VW boss Herbert Diess said: “The new Touareg sets a new benchmark at the top of the automotive world and shows what VW can do in terms of design and technology. It is a reflection of our brand.”

This Touareg is the first to have such a clear focus on the Chinese market because, aside from being the largest new car market in the world, it's seen rapid growth in SUV demand in recent times. SUVs accounted for 8% of the Chinese market in 2007, but by 2017 that had skyrocketed to 45%.

Despite a clear Asian influence in its design (read more about that here), the Touareg is a global model. Like its forebears the latest car will be launched in the UK, but it's not due on roads until the summer. It will come with a 3.0 V6 diesel engine with 282bhp and 442lb ft. A second 3.0 V6 diesel with 228bhp and 369lb ft will follow in the autumn, as will a 3.0 V6 petrol with 335bhp and 332lb ft. Prices will start at about £50,000, an increase of almost £5000 over the current car, which starts at £45,430.

New VW Touareg: should the people's car be a premium car? 

The Chinese line-up will also include a 362bhp plug-in hybrid that will arrive in late 2019. That variant is likely to go on sale in Europe, although no date has been set. A 415bhp, 664lb ft 4.0 V8 diesel will be offered in some markets, likely including the UK, from late 2018.

All of the engine options are powered through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with standard all-wheel drive featuring a centre differential lock, with five standard and four optional drive modes.

To aid the driving dynamic, the Touareg features electromechanical active roll compensation, which adjusts the anti-roll bars to smooth the ride when cornering. It also has air suspension to boost ride and intelligent all-wheel steering to aid handling.

Oliver Müller, the Touareg’s vehicle development boss, told Autocar: “We wanted to combine a sporty drive with comfort. The focus in on on-road handling, but it was important to make sure it was still good off-road. It’s part of the DNA of the car. The look is more on-road now, but it’s still an off-roader at heart.”

The exterior design of the new Touareg moves further away from the off-road styling of the original, with a bold front grille designed particularly to appeal to the Chinese market. While built on the same VWGroup MLB platform as the new Porsche Cayenne, the only exterior part the two now share is the front windscreen. Exterior designer Frank Bruse told Autocar: “The key difference is that we were allowed to do our own door panels – before we had to share with the Cayenne. That gave us more freedom.”

Q&A: Frank Bruse, Volkswagen Touareg exterior designer 

At 4878mm, the Touareg is 77mm longer than before. It is also 44mm wider (1984mm) but 7mm shorter (1702mm). With the rear seats up, the boot has a capacity of 810 litres, 113 more than the previous model. The aluminium and steel body helps make the car 106kg lighter than before.

The dashboard is built around VW’s new Innovision Cockpit, which merges a 15in infotainment touchscreen with a 12in digital instrument cluster. The customisable infotainment screen also controls features such as smartphone integration, air conditioning and seat massage functions, while analogue controls remain for the volume and other ‘frequently used switches’.

A range of driver assistance features come as standard, including traffic jam assist, lane assist, autonomous emergency braking, a night vision camera and a driver fatigue warning.

Standard equipment includes LED lighting all-round, multi-coloured interior LED lighting and a 1270mm long sliding panoramic roof.

The Touareg is designed with a range of customisation options based on three optional trim levels: the wood-dominated Atmosphere; Elegance, based on metal colours; and the sporty R-Line. All three will feature spoilers and side sills, with R-Line also gaining wheel arch extensions.

The Touareg will be able to tow trailers of up to 3.5 tonnes. 

Read more

Volkswagen Toureg review 

Volkswagen Polo review 

Volkswagen T-Roc review 

Our Verdict

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Comments
37

23 March 2018

Never was a Tourag fn because of its size, but this does look quite smart for its intended market. 

23 March 2018

at last, a dashboard that proves touchscreens can be beautifully integrated.   This really puts the fussy, chintzy design of Mercedes to shame.

23 March 2018
ovlov wrote:

at last, a dashboard that proves touchscreens can be beautifully integrated.   This really puts the fussy, chintzy design of Mercedes to shame.

I think this looks dull and generic. A beige lump of squishy plastic and a couple of fingerprinty screens. Mercedes puts pzazz into their interiors that makes them interesting and luxurious. You want to tweak a Merc's air vents.

24 March 2018
androo wrote:

ovlov wrote:

at last, a dashboard that proves touchscreens can be beautifully integrated.   This really puts the fussy, chintzy design of Mercedes to shame.

I think this looks dull and generic. A beige lump of squishy plastic and a couple of fingerprinty screens. Mercedes puts pzazz into their interiors that makes them interesting and luxurious. You want to tweak a Merc's air vents.

Personally I think he hit the nail on the head with the word Chintzy. Plus that IPad after-thought is horrific, at best.

24 March 2018
ovlov wrote:

at last, a dashboard that proves touchscreens can be beautifully integrated.   This really puts the fussy, chintzy design of Mercedes to shame.

Now ask yourself the question, whats easier and cheaper, a couple of LCD screens and a few software engineers, or actual buttons, dials and switches, trust me its the former. However they will likely charge more for the LCD screens, apparently thats what people want, because they cant get away from their smart phones for more than a few seconds. 

Who cares how well the vehicle drives, performs, or even looks, as long as I can fit my giant latte in the cup holders, its got Apple and android conectivity and cheap PCP. 

23 March 2018

Bold new styling? It's a Passat on steroids.

Happy motoring

24 March 2018

Passat?  No way.  A Maestro on steroids, perhaps.

23 March 2018

What does road-focused styling means? 

23 March 2018
Velvet Munchkin wrote:

What does road-focused styling means? 

 

My though exactly!

Crap, approach and departure angles on each end?

If I want an autonomous car, I'll take a taxi.

23 March 2018

I find this very unattractive. There's something clunky and slabby about the way the rear end end sits on the road, and the rearmost side window looks under considered, especially in its relationship with the rear wheelarch. It lacks something I can't quite put my finger on (flow, delicacy, subtlety, stylishness?), and afflicts the new Polo and Tiguan as well. It's like a toy model of a real car that doesn't look right because the proportions are off. I also find the curve of the front wing/bonnet where it comes down to the headlights a bit like a sneer (weird I know), and the massive crate grille just industrial and ugly, like an air conditioning unit on the back of of a warehouse. But to be fair to them, nobody else has yet managed to make a large SUV look really stylish or interesting. Not even Volvo. Land Rover and Range Rover probably get the closest actually, though the latest Discovery is disappointingly bloated. A Ford Transit is a masterpiece in comparison. 

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