Don’t be fooled by the Volkswagen Touareg’s weight (2155kg as tested) or by the fact that it has a mere 260bhp (badged 262) 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine beneath its high-set bonnet.
True, 260bhp may not sound like much with which to propel a two-tonne SUV, but it’s the torque that counts in cars such as this. And torque is something the Touareg has in abundance – 406lb ft of the stuff, to be precise, all of which is developed with as little as 2000rpm showing.
Initial step-off is extremely impressive for a vehicle this big, and the acceleration doesn’t fade until well beyond three figures. Zero to 60mph takes a scant 6.9sec in the V6, while even the 0-100mph time is below 20 seconds.
Even the stop-start system works largely without you noticing it, the engine only restarting when you release the brake. After five minutes you get used to it; after 10 minutes you appreciate the system’s worth.
Instead, the money conscious buyer looks instead to the lower powered 3.0 TDI, which produces 204 bhp and 295lb ft of torque. In our view, the economy and emissions benefits do not offset by the relatively lacklustre performance compared to the 262 model, especially as the price differential between the two is small.
The regenerative braking system is slightly more intrusive on the move, in that you can occasionally feel a sense of drag – as if you are driving through light treacle – when the throttle isn’t being applied, but again you get used to it.
The fact that it helps to improve economy by several miles per gallon over a long journey is well worth the acclimatisation period. The strength and feel of the braking system itself is harder, if not impossible, to fault. The high asking price means few people buy the hybrid, but for a niche of buyers it can make sense.