Steady and sturdy
Photos by Low Fai Ming. Text by Regan Ong, sgCarMart.
Styling revisions add a bit of sparkle to the tough and dependable Volkswagen Touareg.
Styling revisions add a bit of sparkle to the tough and dependable Volkswagen
Competing with cars like the Audi Q7, the BMW X5, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the Porsche Cayenne, the Volkswagen Touareg is in some ways or rather, the overshadowed one of the large premium SUV sector.
Volkswagen hasn't ignored its big SUV and for 2015, the car receives updated styling inside and out with new driver aids and safety technologies to keep it top of mind in a very competitive class.
Up close and Personal
You'd be forgiven for missing the revisions on the Touareg as the big Volkswagen's
looks haven't really changed a great deal.
Instantly recognisable as a Volkswagen, the German automaker's current corporate face works well with the big proportions of a full-size SUV. The wide grille and rectangular Bi-Xenon headlamps are similar in design to those you'll find on a Golf or a Tiguan, while the LED daytime running lights add some flair to the front fascia.
What hasn't changed for this update then is the impeccable build quality and use of top-notch materials inside the big Volkswagen.
The Touareg's fit and finish elevates it to the premier leagues with the other premium SUVs. Details like the high-quality, easier-to-use graphics on its touchscreen interface and its completely rattle-free cabin also make the Touareg feel like a vault on wheels.
It is not a seven-seater but this SUV is a practical one. Whether you're in the front or at the back, there's always enough room. The Nappa leather seats are exceptionally comfortable so even if you have spent long hours on them, back aches will not be a problem.
Other practical features include a standard powered tailgate and this opens up to a capacious 580-litre cargo bay for all the luggage or groceries.
The six-cylinder oil burner under the hood of the Touareg puts out a rather modest
241 horses but it really shines in the torque department, cranking out some 550Nm
at just 2,750rpm.
There's no discernible lag when you need to get cracking off the line, with the turbo diesel cranking into life quietly and efficiently. There's almost no diesel clatter to disrupt the experience and there's a level of finesse about the way the Touareg's engine works that will have passengers wondering whether it's actually a diesel or not once it's on the move.
More importantly, the engine now gets a coasting function, which helps to reduce fuel usage by effectively disconnecting the engine from the drivetrain when there's no throttle load.
At the same time, improved aerodynamics, lower rolling resistance tyres and stop-start technology also play their part in improving consumption. As a result, Volkswagen now claims a fuel efficiency figure of 13.9km/L for its big SUV, although we only achieved 11.8km/L during our time with it.
The engine's broad strength is enhanced by the exceptional ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. The transmission works seamlessly, delivering creamy smooth upshifts and promptly serving lower ones when requested.
And when the time comes for the car to simply cruise, we can't help but be impressed by how comfortable the Touareg's ride is. Thanks to an optimised steel-spring suspension, the car soaks up road imperfections without a hitch.
Not surprising for a large and versatile SUV, the Touareg is quite heavy at 2,185kg. Fortunately, that mass is not all hindrance and a little extra bulk ensures the vehicle feels robust and remarkably composed on the road.
Congested city roads aren't necessarily strong points in a large SUV's curriculum vitae, but the Touareg is one of the most competent vehicles available to tackle them. The car may be wide and you'll notice that on tight streets and car parks, but it never feels cumbersome when you're on the move.
With a nicely trimmed cabin, impressive on-road manners, generous interior space and newly available features, there are no doubts the Touareg remains a competent, comfortable and impressive all-rounder in the large premium SUV class.
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