With a V10 diesel heading the Touareg line-up, the 2.5 TDi’s got as much chance of making headlines as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political opponents. But, unsurprisingly, this £28,600 option – nearly half the price of the V10 – is the one most likely to populate UK roads.
So half the price, but half the engine – literally – as it’s an in-line five-cylinder version of the 5.0-litre V10, sharing its basic architecture and the pumpe düse injection system. In this bisected form it produces 172bhp, optimised at 3500rpm, while 1500rpm lower down the rev range you get the full 295 lb ft slug of torque.
Despite the on-paper appeal, this isn’t another ‘VW diesels are good news’ story. The problem is refinement, or rather the lack of it. In an age of big, creamy diesels, the VW simply isn’t up to scratch.
There’s an unruly clatter right from start-up, and it never diminishes; there’s pronounced intrusion when ticking over in traffic or wafting along at cruising speeds and everything in between. And you don’t get the payback of lusty performance, either, especially not with the £1390 auto ’box. Lethargy off the line is frustrating, and so is the age it takes to pile on pace through the all-important 30-70mph zone.