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 this had skyrocketed to 45%.
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.”
Three trim levels are offered at launch and the UK starting price applies to the entry-level SEL. Prices for the plusher R-Line variant, which comes with sportier bodywork details, start from £55,095, while R-Line Tech sits atop of the launch range with more standard kit (more on that below) and a starting price of £58,195.
The 3.0 TDI V6 top-end diesel produces 282bhp and 443lb ft of torque from 2250rpm, enabling the SUV to sprint from zero to 62mph in 6.1sec and reach a top speed of 146mph. A 228bhp diesel is also available.
New VW Touareg: should the people's car be a premium car?
The Chinese line-up includes 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, although no UK date has been set for its arrival either.
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 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 VW Group 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.”