First DriveThe newest version of Volkswagen's flagship SUV shares much with the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, but it's taking a different route to head upmarket
First DriveLowest-powered diesel Touareg offers decent performance with refinement, though pricing means you might as well go for the extra punch.
This is Volkswagen’s new range-topping Touareg, the R50. Its party trick is an uprated version of familiar 5.0-litre V10, which wrings a massive 627lb ft of torque and 345bhp from the ageing pump duse engine; an increase of 74lb ft, 36bhp and £3885 over the previous range-topper, the Altitude.
What’s it like?
Surreal. Stamp your right foot to the floor and you will roar past 62mph in 6.7 seconds – faster than you would in a Focus ST. In a car that deserves its own magnetic force field, weighing in at 2602kg, that feels similar to taking a step forward and discovering that the ground has dropped by two foot more than you were expecting.
Get your head around the sheer pace, and you find that the R50 has minimal body roll, and a ride that will cushion you from most road surfaces. Equally, turn-in is direct and the steering responds quickly and predictably, all of which makes this is a very comfortable and surprisingly nimble drive.
If you ignore the massively optimistic £61,990 price tag and abysmal mpg, disadvantages are that the six-speed auto can be caught out if you really hustle along, and tyre noise can get wearing – as could the gruff chugging from under the bonnet.
Should I buy one?
The sense of empowerment that comes with driving the R50 should be enough to entice the small number of buyers VW is hoping for. But there is a vast of array of more up-to-date competition that offers all the benefits of the Touareg R50 for five figures less. We suggest you look there first.