“When we designed the first Touareg, we deliberately set out to make something different-looking; with this one, the brief was for a car that looked more like its siblings. That’s because eight years ago, VW was casting itself as a maker of even more premium, luxury cars, and Touareg Mk1 was a big part of that effort. This time around, our agenda is different.”

So says Klaus Bischoff, VW’s chief exterior designer, about the firm’s new Touareg SUV. “I would say this design is more typically, classically Volkswagen. It’s elegant and sophisticated; attractive and modern; but absolutely not stylised, not ‘fashionable’. Volkswagens must always go their own way, which is why this car doesn’t look like a Range Rover or a BMW X5. We will never make a ‘me-too’ design.”

VW Touareg unveiled

Looking at the new Touareg from the outside, its new grille and headlamp design is what immediately strikes you. It certainly suits the car better than the gauche, chrome-centric old one. That new face is strongly influenced by the new Golf and Polo. "This is the third car to get our new corporate brand look,” Bischoff says, “but there are 20 more in the pipeline for the next three years.”

Inside, VW has racheted up the Touareg’s plushness, material quality and equipment count. There’s more room in the back too – a lot more. The rear seats have 40mm extra legroom, thanks to that lengthened wheelbase, but they also slide fore and aft by 160mm now, as well as reclining. This’ll be a much more limo-like car to ride in than the last.

But it’ll never be a Range Rover rival.

“Our design mission for this Touareg was to create a responsible SUV,” says Bischoff. “We had to make a car as refined, comfortable and capable as a full-sized luxury 4x4, but at the same time make it car-like, because VW has no history of making big SUVs. And so we lowered the roofline a little for this version, and we retained the car-like seating position. And we tried to soften the design forms, and to keep the aggression that you find in so many 4x4 designs out of this one. W tried to communicate the strides that our engineering team made in making this car more fuel-efficient. And I hope we succeeded.”