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.

Vicky Parrott

Deputy reviews editor
Initial step-off is extremely impressive for a vehicle this big

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.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Luxury SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Genesis G70
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Based on the Kia Stinger, Genesis' new G70 saloon shows plenty of promising signs that it could be a hit in Europe
  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Still visceral and dramatic as ever, but does the vast number of mechanical changes and tweaks help make the Lamborghini Aventador S more engaging?
  • Renault Koleos
    Car review
    22 September 2017
    Renault’s new crossover sees the Koleos name return, attached to an SUV of a quite different stripe
  • Nissan X-Trail
    First Drive
    21 September 2017
    On our first chance to get the facelifted Nissan X-Trail on UK roads, the petrol proves a viable alternative, although for outright pulling power the 2.0 dCi is the better bet
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2d 210
    First Drive
    21 September 2017
    Most powerful diesel version of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is swift and more frugal than its closest rivals, but makes less sense than the range-topping petrol version