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Can second-gen Touareg deliver on hybrid's eco-promise?

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Touareg

The second-generation Volkswagen Touareg has gone on a diet and become more efficient

Matt Prior
11 March 2010
Volkswagen Touareg V6 Hybrid

What is it?

This is the hybrid version of the new Volkswagen Touareg. It is the range's most intriguing model, even though it won't be the best-seller. It's the only petrol Touareg that'll make it to the UK, yet it has the lowest CO2 emissions and the highest power output of a range that also includes 3.0 V6 and 4.1 V8 diesels.

At the hybrid's heart is a 328bhp, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine coupled to a 45bhp electric motor. They work in parallel so, like a Lexus RX450h, the engine can be uncoupled from the drive to shut down altogether.

Unlike the Lexus, which has an electric motor for the back axle, the Touareg's engine/motor combination both have a say in all four wheels, via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a Haldex four-wheel drive system.

That new transmission contributes much to Touareg's headline-grabbing 200kg weight loss between generations. A heavier-duty option, called 4XMotion, is available on the V6 TDI only; it has a low ratio and a centre differential lock for serious off-road use.

Another big weight saving comes on steel-sprung versions, whose suspension is 47kg lighter than before. Optional air-sprung cars, like our test car, lose 20kg underneath. There's about the same as from the body itself, which is a significantly overhauled first-generation Touareg shell rather than an all-new architecture.

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What's it like?

Inside, the Touareg is new and mostly decently appointed. A few interior surfaces on the lower – and a couple on the upper – part of the cabin are disappointingly brittle, but it's all efficiently laid out. Roominess is improved too. The rear seats slide and the boot is big, but there's no seven-seat option.

Performance is brisk, but the engine needs to be worked surprisingly hard to give its best and the gearbox can be sluggish to respond in auto mode. It can be overriden and, given it's better that way and has eight speeds, it's a shame there aren't steering wheel paddles to assist.

Refinement is sound, the ride is above average and, unsurprisingly, there's nothing here for the enthusiast. The Touareg is a more agile road car than a Discovery but far less so than an X5.

Should I buy one?

That depends on whether you were attracted to the Touareg in the first place. Because even the hybrid powertrain and improved overall refinement don't add much to the equation. The technology and emissions have moved on, but the Touareg's overall ethos remains unchanged.

Join the debate


12 March 2010

How can you produce a "First Drive" report of such a hybrid without real-life fuel consumption figures? Surely that is the only thing of relevance to it?

Or is perhaps the "First Drive" not actually about a first but more like a first look?

12 March 2010

My thoughts exactly, Grunt!

12 March 2010

Maybe because they drove it for the first time?

12 March 2010

So you buy a "328bhp, supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine", and are worried about fuel consumption?

12 March 2010

I think it looks really nice! In fact I would even consider one, but I think its too expensive, same sort of price as an ML - which I think I would rather have, especially when the new model comes out soon.

12 March 2010

Matt Prior, hang you head in shame. Factual errors plus an overriding tone of acute desperation to pick fault.

First, its four wheel drive is Torsen, not Haldex. Second, can you please justify the statement that this is not a new Touareg? What was carried over? The VW badge? Everyone else, but you, says it is an all-new product, with its sister Porsche Cayenne II. If we're going to get all philosophical about what constitutes 'all-new' as opposed to heavily updated, perhaps we can look forward to Autocar's description from now on of the 'new' Jag XJ as a moderately updated version of the old XJ, as, as you know, that car reads across the old XJ's floorpan and mechanics largely unchanged, as indeed did the XF from the latest iteration of the S-type, both dressed in albeit radically different clothes. Come off it, Mr Prior, the Touareg is new. You're tilting at windmills.

Overall, an astonishingly poor and unbalanced review of what is a landmark car, especially for markets where diesel is still shunned or largely shut-out through legislation.

Your nitpicking of German products is tiresome and transparent in its intent and is only matched in its irksomeness by your slavering over 'home' products.

12 March 2010

The CO2 emission figure is 193g/km not 195.


12 March 2010

Well I was quite underwhelmed by the article I have to say and thought it was maybe just the way I had read it that made it seem so negative. Obviously not just me after all. I thought the article really did try and put the car down - though why I don't know.

12 March 2010

373bhp! It wasnt that long ago that you needed 500 cubic inches and 8 cylinders to make that much power. And the first VWs had a tenth of that. What is it we do now that means we need so much power?

12 March 2010

[quote noluddite]What is it we do now that means we need so much power?[/quote]


'There's a style of launch control here called Power Start (which your VW dealer will perhaps not even know about). With your foot on the brake, start the engine, put the transmission lever in the Sport setting at bottom, release the brake and then just floor the accelerator. In this moment, all power supply sources are told to hook up and work together, and it's like someone swinging the business end of a sledgehammer into your chest when the electric motor and forward clutch snap into the V6's flywheel. Really, it does a truly hard-core launch that only Koenigsegg or Pagani or a Ferrari FXX can approach. We repeated it several times and nothing broke, and the VW personnel were practically urging us on to try it again and again. All in the interests of science, you understand.'

Koenigsegg-like acceleration experience for £70k?

[quote R32]Well I was quite underwhelmed by the article I have to say and thought it was maybe just the way I had read it that made it seem so negative. Obviously not just me after all. I thought the article really did try and put the car down - though why I don't know.[/quote]

Funny how Mr Prior, being an ace test driver and all, didn't come across this astonishing quality piece of dragstrip-like engineering in the new Touareg Hybrid in his time with the vehicle, which should have appealled to any red-blooded, hot-shoe driver, unlike the test driver, Matt Davis from Edmunds. But then Mr Prior's preset objective was to 'diss' the vehicle, wasn't it Matt, as nothing can be seen to threaten Land Rover in UK, right?


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