2012 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Wagon/SUV, five doors, five seats.
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.2l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.4l/100km
Volkswagen's long-in-the-tooth Touareg landed with an all-new platform and design makeover mid-year - it's longer, has more interior space and also scored a couple of heart transplants.
The result is much-improved looks and fuel-efficiencies across the 2012 model range.
The 150TDI, under test here, stands out as the green choice with stop-start technology, an efficient V6 diesel and a hefty 150kW on command – hence the name.
Quality: The Germans do a restrained and beautiful, if somewhat-Spartan, interior. The Touareg executes these guiding principles with soft-touch surfaces and instruments, cohesive design lines and excellent vision and light.
Comfort: With standard leather and lovely adjustable seats, most travellers will have no complaints spending time in the Touareg. There is no third row, so all travel first-class (and you can leave the garden gnomes at home).
Equipment: The specification list is long and generous in the Touareg – it’s hard to believe the car sits in the low $60ks.
The only options are a ‘driver assist pack’ of radar cruise-control, blind spot and lane-departure warning system, and a heated leather steering wheel for $5400, a moon-roof for $3000, air suspension at $4900 and bi-Xenon headlights for $3500.
Unfortunately, GPS is a pricey $4900 option, but metallic paint is only $1500.
Storage: The 150TDI has a large flat boot offering 1642 litres of space with the rear seats folded, 580 litres with them in place.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: There’s a good reason for VW to put the ‘150’ in the V6 diesel’s name - it’s not often you’ll find an SUV diesel over the 120kW mark, much less the 150kW in the Touareg.
The 3.0-litre V6 develops 150kW at 4000rpm, and a fat 400Nm at 2000rpm. VW claims a 7.2 l/100km fuel sip, we managed a 8.4 l/100km. For a 2150kg car – the technology truly is awesome.
The stop-start system is not as quick as some (ie. Jaguar), but starts smoothly with about two turns of the crank after shutting down under full braking.
Vibration is minimal; you know it has switched off and back on again, but after the first few applications, it becomes invisible.
However, if you have a habit of braking then releasing slightly when coming to a complete stop, the stop/start won’t operate – some competing systems are less sensitive about this.
One debit was the slow speed steering, which we didn’t like much. The electronics overcompensate and make the wheel feel remote at speeds of up to about 30km/h.
The drive otherwise is easy and relaxed, with excellent vision through the big windows and standard cameras for parking and reversing.
Refinement: It is a beautifully refined engine/gearbox combination. But despite claiming a sub-10 second 0-100km/h time (9.0 secs), it doesn’t feel that agile off the mark.
This is largely due to a rather heavy-handed, ultra-sensible eight-speed gearbox which doles out the power and torque judiciously, keeping the fuel use low.
It boasts 190g/C02, which is excellent for a car this size, but only gets a 3.5 star nod for its green rating.
Suspension: The ride in the Touareg is comfortable and communicative; the 17-inch alloys with fat multi-surface tyres do no harm to the sublime ride (we question the need for the expensive air-suspension option).
Braking: The brakes are marginally over-sensitive at the pedal, but have no trouble hauling the heavy 150TDI to a stop.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, front active headrests, Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hill Holder, Hill Descent Control, Rollover Control, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, forward and reverse parking sensors
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three year with roadside assist
Service costs: Check with your VW dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI ($129,300) - The Q7 is an immense car by comparison, both in dimensions and price. The Audi is superbly appointed, that’s why it sits at double the price, but why would you not look at the Touareg? (see Q7 reviews)
Mazda CX-9 Luxury ($59,233) - It ain’t a diesel, but it’s a seven-seat 3.7 litre V6 that threatens the Touareg at the price point and for on-road manners. However, the level of specification is nowhere near the VW’s. (see CX-9 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Surprised with the overall rating? So are we – but the numbers don’t lie. It's our third look at the new Touareg and we're warming to it.
When pitted against the top-dogs in the premium SUV segment, it makes very good sense. Dollar for dollar, feature for feature, the value-equation for the 150TDI Touareg is a very strong one.
An excellent interior, superior on-road manners, a strong 150kW V6 diesel in the nose, and remarkable fuel economy for such a large and capable car, all add up to make the 150TDI an appealing and versatile package.
Priced at the lower end of the luxury SUV category, the 150TDI should be high on your list.