If there’s little that’s really distinguishing about the performance, the same pretty much applies to the ride and handling.
The thing that marks out so many Volkswagens is that there’s a great consistency to the way they drive. The steering’s smoothness, control weights and pedal spacing on an Up are so in tune with the same elements on an Arteon. A Volkswagen feels like a Volkswagen feels like a Volkswagen. Which presents Volkswagen with an unusual situation when it comes to this big SUV.
With so many of the cars off of its platform, including those of Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley, the challenge is to give them characteristics distinct to their manufacturer. In the Volkswagen, almost the opposite is true: the Touareg needs to drive in that relaxed, easy, smooth, indistinct way that slips seamlessly into your life, as agreeable but forgettable as a bar of soap. Consider it job done with the latest Touareg, then.
Once you’re in the dead-straight, easy driving position, the control weights and consistencies are utterly familiar. The steering eases through its 2.4 turns from one lock to the other with nothing other than linear, predictable weight and accuracy, even if the same can’t quite be said for the throttle response, VW having to be sure that its emissions controls are active all the time, rather than just on special occasions.
Ride comfort is good and it doesn’t much matter which of the drive modes you put the damping in. There’s decent bump absorption and the kind of sophistication that usually comes with air springs. You hear small surface changes and joints but don’t feel them and the body stays pretty flat. But there are less flattering characteristics, too: the ‘sproing’ sort of echoey noise, a lack of lateral precision and some bump steer.
It doesn’t feel entirely honest and predictable like a good coil-sprung car does, but in tune with the damping control, it keeps body movements in check if you’re pressing on, which is something the Volkswagen neither encourages nor rewards you for doing.
Consider the following track notes more as an on-limit/ emergency safety section. Unlike some cars on this platform — a Porsche or Lamborghini, for example — the Touareg approaches brisk driving with no grander intentions than not to fall over or fall off.
As a result, then, it’s remarkably composed around Millbrook’s hill route. Setting the suspension to one of the dynamic modes, doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to the handling compared with the Comfort setting. Stability and security are the watchwords and you can make reasonable progress before the stability control is inclined to intervene. When it does, it does so unobtrusively.