Revisions make Volkswagen's five-seat SUV a better car all round, meaning it is worthy of consideration in a tough market segment

What is it?

A subtly revised version of Wolfsburg’s luxury SUV touting what is quite possibly the longest full name in the business: the Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI SCR BlueMotion Technology 4Motion.

The well-equipped five seater forms part of a limited, diesel-only line-up of facelifted Touareg models set to reach UK dealerships in November. Priced at £44,500, it competes head-on with the likes of the BMW X5 xDrive 30d, Land Rover Discovery SDV6 and Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec, to name but a few upmarket rivals.

The stylistic changes brought to the second-generation Volkswagen Touareg some four years after its introduction are more noticeable than what we have seen on other recent facelifted Volkswagen models – a measure perhaps of the level of competition it faces.

At the front, there is a newly designed bumper with larger air ducts for more efficient engine bay cooling and fog lamps set low down underneath a prominent horizontal chrome strip, a wider grille boasting four rather than the previous two horizontal elements and reshaped headlamps housing standard Xenon main beam projectors.

The rear also receives a re-profiled bumper which, like that now used at the front, features a heavily chrome strip to accentuate width. There are also new tailpipes and, on models fitted with the optional R-line package, a shiny black valance panels styled to resemble a diffuser. Additionally, the new Touareg gets revised alloy wheels in sizes ranging from the standard 19in of the base model in the UK up to optional 21in items.

Inside, the Touareg adopts a lightly redesigned dashboard with new rotary switchgear, front seats with standard lumbar adjustment and a revised range of trims. Among the equipment upgrades is a standard automatic post collision brake function – as seen on all recent Volkswagen models.

Under the bonnet sits a reworked version of the Volkswagen Group’s widely used 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel engine. The 90-degree unit offers 13bhp and 22lb ft more than the previous powerplant, producing 258bhp at 3800rpm and 427lb ft of torque on a band of revs between 1750 and 2500rpm in this particularly Touareg model.

It also adopts a selective catalytic reduction system with AdBlue urea injection technology to provide it with combined average consumption of 42.8mpg, CO2 emissions of 174g/km and EU6 emission regulation compliance – figures that place it in a lower band for a two per cent benefit in company car tax.

UK buyers can opt for a less powerful version of this engine in a slightly more affordable base model that costs £1500 less at £43,000. Its output remains the same as before with 201bhp at 3200rpm and 334lb ft between 1250 and 3200rpm. However, its consumption and emissions are little different to the more powerful variant of the revised diesel at 42.8mpg and 173g/km.

As part of efforts to introduce greater efficiency to the Touareg, its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox now receives a coasting function in models boasting the BlueMotion Technology designation.

It decouples drive to provide a freewheeling effect and added economy on a trailing throttle. Further fuel saving functions on the new model include automatic stop/start and brake energy regeneration.

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Drive continues to be channelled to all four wheels via Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system. Depending on the trim level you choose, it can be had with rear mechanical differential locks and a five-stage air suspension to provide the Touareg, which shares its genes with Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne alongside which it is produced in a Volkswagen factory in Bratislava, with outstanding off-road ability.

What's it like?

In this particular form, the Touareg remains a spacious and well-built alternative to the current crop of luxury SUVs, offering improved performance and excellent economy at a price that should see it appeal to quite a wide group of buyers.

The exterior styling changes are quite successful, endowing it with an instantly sharper appearance from many angles. The alterations to the interior also bring improved ergonomics and a further lift in perceived quality.

It hardly gives the impression of being a new model, but you are at least aware of the efforts Volkswagen has gone to in attempting the raise the appeal of its luxury SUV, which is not something you can say about all of its recently facelifted models.

The reworked 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine doesn’t serve up the frankly outlandish omnipresent energy of the range topping 4.2-litre V8 oilburner that is no longer offered in the UK, but it does deliver strong enough performance across a reasonable spread of revs to provide the Touareg with class competitive accelerative qualities.

With highly responsive step-off qualities and convincing mid-range urge, it certainly feels faster and a more deal more agile than you would expect from something that laden with a 2110kg kerb weight. The gearbox also shifts smoothly and intuitively between its eight ratios in any one of the three driving models: Comfort, Normal and Sport.

If there is a criticism of the engine, it is its slightly noisy nature. Under moderate-to-heavy throttle loads the operation remains pleasingly smooth. However, quite a bit of chatter is transferred back into the cabin – enough at least to make you aware it is a diesel.

Considering its weight, the Touareg handles with aplomb. It possesses plenty of grip and boasts impressive body control, resisting understeer and roll particularly well when hustled along winding back roads.

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The trade-off is a rather fidgety ride. With quite firm spring and damping rates, the new Volkswagen lacks the inherent comfort and relaxed nature some more recent luxury SUV rivals.

Should I buy one?

The facelifted Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI is clearly a better car all round than the model it replaces – faster, more powerful, surprisingly agile and, with combined cycle consumption of 42.8mpg, quite economical for something so substantial.

The trouble is, it competes in a market that is littered with convincing alternatives, including the BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes-Benz M-class.

Its pricing is quite competitive given its high levels of standard equipment, so it is well worth consideration. Just don’t expect the last word in refinement and comfort.

Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI

Price £44,500; Top speed 140mph; 0-62mph 7.3sec; Economy 42.8mpg; CO2 174g/km; Kerb weight 2110kg; Engine V6, 2967cc turbodiesel; Power 258bhp at 3800rpm; Torque 427lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic

Add a comment…
audiolab 17 September 2014

@ Ski Kid

I don't think it accelerates quite that fast !
Ski Kid 17 September 2014

heavy depreciation and not classy

Considering it's price it lacks class and the depreciation will be even quicker than it's acceleration.
jer 17 September 2014

Agree with above

I think it's a good deal especially with a discount. I'm not sure why it drives so differently from the Porsche variant and it's a shame the engine is not as hushed as some but overall it's a good big 4wd.