Since it was launched in 2002, Volkswagen has sold close to a million examples of the first two generations of its range-topping SUV, with its key markets Europe, China and Russia. And it’s the Chinese market, which loves SUVs and high-end motors, that has emboldened VW to make the new Touareg even more ‘premium’.
While Volkswagen hasn't been shy in developing higher-end models – such as the Arteon saloon – it is a delicate balance to strike, given VW's 'People's Car' heritage represented by the likes of the Golf and Beetle. Going upmarket also pushes Volkswagen towards the territory of VW Group sister brand Audi. But if done successfully – and the new SUV certainly looks the part – it could help the brand reach new (and wealthy) customers, in China and elsewhere.
Also worthy of consideration is the Touareg's differing customer base between the Chinese, Russian and European markets. According to Volkswagen in China, the average age of a Touareg owner is 41; in Russia, it's 43. In Europe, the average owner is 55.
It’s interesting to note, though, that VW’s flagship won’t, at least initially, be offered in the US - another market that loves an high-riding SUV. That could partly be down to the Touareg’s post-Dieselgate US sales slump, but is also due to VW’s SUV focus on the seven-seat Atlas (a five-seat version is set to be unveiled at the New York motor show). Apparently, it’s hard to convince US buyers to pay more for a smaller car.