Third-gen SUV is longer and wider but lighter than before
Inside, the Touareg showcases VW’s new Innovision Cockpit
The Touareg will launch in the UK later this year...
...with a pair of V6 diesel engines
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.
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.”
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.