The sheer lack of pretence about the Touareg’s character makes it a car of which the spectacular would be a surprise.
It’s the kind of big, laid-back, premium SUV whose appeal to its customer base isn’t likely to be adversely affected at all by the news that it’s a touch reluctant to be hurried along. But when a hesitant powertrain begins to erode the overall drivability of a new car, as the Touareg’s just begins to, it’s worth pointing out.
Despite having a slightly more powerful 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine than the Q7 we tested in 2015, our Touareg test car needed a second longer than the Audi (a car with which the VW shares a platform and plenty else besides, don’t forget) to accelerate to 60mph from rest. The eight-speed automatic gearbox and Torsen four-wheel-drive system take their time to respond when you want to urge the car quickly into motion.
Likewise, if you need to pick up a bit of haste while the car’s moving, along a slip road or similar, you’ll find the transmission hesitates for a moment when you dig deep into the accelerator pedal, before dropping one too many gears and generating a surge of performance that feels quite treacly at first.
In-gear, part-throttle acceleration is certainly better, though, so most of the time the Touareg gets along with the authoritative ease that you’d want from a big SUV. It’s easy to drive in the flow of traffic and, once you’re used to the moment’s pause it needs to get going, in stop-start situations, too. And if you have something heavy to tow or tricky terrain to cover, the car’s slightly circumspect step-off might be useful to you, of course.
The cabin isolation of our test car was good, beating our measured noise benchmarks for both the Q7 and XC90 by several decibels. Over coarser Tarmac, road roar creates a bit of a background hum in the Touareg, although not a bothersome amount of it. Wind noise is generally well suppressed, but you do notice some fluttering around the door mirrors at motorway speed.
In light of all that, you’d say the Touareg is a qualified success if VW’s aim was to show it can do anything the better-established players in the luxury SUV class can do. There is little about its performance that ought to grate or offend, but also little that really distinguishes it.