18 June 2004

Volkswagen is about to launch what will become the only 12-cylinder off-roader: a Touareg with the company’s unique 6.0-litre W12 engine, tuned to produce 450bhp. That sort of power should guarantee the top Touareg will become one of the fastest four-wheel drives around, challenging Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo which has an identical power output. The VW should rival the Porsche’s 158mph top speed and 5.4sec 0-60mph ability.

The W12 will be a limited-series production car, ordered through Volkswagen’s Individual outfit that tailors top-end cars to customers’ requirements with specific trim and tuning options. Around 100 cars will be sold in Europe, although it is not clear at this stage if they will be available in right-hand drive. Most of the 500-car production run will be destined for the lucrative Middle East market.

The regular W12 produces 414bhp in the Phaeton limousine, but has been tuned to extract a further 36bhp, as in the Audi A8 W12. The air suspension will be extensively retuned to handle the extra grunt and nose weight.

Land Rover was considering a 12-cylinder Range Rover, but there now appears to be little need as the replacement Jaguar-sourced V8s, including a supercharged 400bhp version, arrive next year.

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