A PAIR OF LEAKED photos late last month gave us our first look at the new SUV, but today the German carmaker has officially revealed the all-new 2011 Volkswagen Touareg.
Although a subtle evolution of the outgoing model - the new family face aside - the 2011 Touareg is an all-new beast, longer than its forebear yet some 200kg lighter.
As with the previous model, the new Touareg is powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines, joined by a hybrid drivetrain, as reported early last year.
Don't expect to see the hybrid model when the new Touareg launches locally in 2011, however. Speaking with TMR today, Volkswagen Australia's Karl Gehling said that the local Touareg will only be available with petrol and diesel powertrains.
"At this stage, we don't plan to offer the Hybrid in Australia. The decision was based on the reduction in weight and improvement in fuel economy of the new Touareg; we don't see that the demand would be that significant for a Hybrid model," Mr Gehling said.
"We'll offer petrol and diesel options as we currently do."
Mr Gehling added that, with its more luxuriously-appointed interior, the new Touareg will be repositioned to take on the likes of BMW and sister-brand Audi.
"We're looking to change the focus for the Touareg, to be more in-line with the X5, Q7, in terms of being a more on-road all-roader variant rather than off-roader. It doesn't make sense to position the Touareg down in the medium segment."
That doesn't mean the Touareg can't cop a light off-road assault, with the addition of an "off-road driving programme" designed to improve the Touareg's off-road ability. Whether we'll see that, and the 'Terrain Tech Packet', in Australia remains to be seen - but more about that later.
A solid 208kg lighter than the outgoing model, the 2011 Touareg still manages to offer torsional rigidity five percent greater than its predecessor.
As spy photos over the past year hinted at, and last month's leaked scale model images proved, the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg is an all-new design, albeit a subtle 'remix' of the outgoing model.
All around the new Touareg are the marks of Volkswagen's new styling language, from the new letterbox grille and slimmer headlights of its smaller siblings to the long taillights common across all of the newer VW cars.
At first glance, little seems to have changed along the new Touareg's profile, perhaps the least-changed part of the new model.
The plain yet clearly defined curves of the outgoing Touareg's sides have been replaced by a more flowing appearance, the low character line blending up into the body.
Either end of the wave-like doors, tougher and more pronounced guards jut out from beneath the rear quarter window and atop the front quarter panel, giving the new Touareg an overall stronger appearance than the comparatively simplistic first-generation model.
While the sportier roof-line and upward-arching belt line offer a faster look to the profile, the new headlights and taillights also extend further into the side of the new Touareg.
Volkswagen says the new model was developed to offer an improved drag coefficient (specific figures have not been offered), with a smaller front end and and a lower-to-the-ground design.
According to Volkswagen - and as to be expected with any new model - the interior of the 2011 Touareg is more functional, with seats more comfortable than before and rear legroom more spacious (thanks no doubt to the longer body).
Where the dashboard of the first-generation Touareg offered a somewhat utilitarian approach to its design, the new model takes interior styling more upmarket.
The bench-like centre console, extending in a straight box-like line under the dash in the outgoing model now curves up to join the centre stack.
The woodgrain treatment of the previous model continues into the 2011 Touareg, while aluminium highlights are featured more heavily than before.
Special features on the new Touareg will be offered under the new 'Exclusive' badge from Volkswagen Individual. Options include 19-inch alloy wheels, fine wood inserts and a Nappa leather interior in two colour combinations.
The rear bench seat now offers 160mm in longitudinal adjustment, with an adjustable backrest. On the options list are electronically folding rear seats, offering 1642 litres of rear storage space - 72 litres more than the outgoing model.
Equipment and Features
Volkswagen has offered few details on the 'mod-cons' of the new Touareg. Standard in the base model is a radio-CD infotainment system, controlled from a 6.5-inch touch-screen display.
A multi-directional camera system called 'Area View' utilises four cameras to detect the Touareg's surroundings, enhancing safety.
Depending on the model and specification, up to nine airbags are available.
Lane Assist keeps the Touareg on the right path, and Side Assist warns of vehicles approaching from the rear when changing lanes, minimising rear visibility problems.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with integrated Front Assist can brake to a stop in an emergency, tensioning the seatbelts as a precautionary measure.
Bi-Xenon headlights with Dynamic Light Assist recognise oncoming traffic and adjust the light beam to minimise glare, and adaptive roll compensation works to keep the Touareg level through corners.
While Australian specifications have yet to be confirmed, the international Touareg will be launched with two diesel engines and the petrol-electric hybrid system, brand new to the Touareg line-up.
The first of the two diesel engines is a 3.0 litre V6 TDI developing 180kW and 550Nm of torque, with a remarkably fuel consumption rating of just 7.4 l/100km.
The second diesel engine, the big 4.2 litre V8 TDI, produces 250kW and a massive 800Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is rated at 9.1 l/100km.
While we are unlikely to see it in Australia, the petrol-electric hybrid model is powered by a 240kW/360Nm 3.3 litre supercharged V6 TSI engine, paired with a 35kW electric motor.
The Touareg Hybrid can be driven up to 50km/h on the strength of electric power alone, but combined with the petrol engine, offers a 0-100km/h time of just 6.5 seconds.
The all important fuel consumption figures for the Touareg Hybrid sees it using 8.2 litres per 100km. By comparison, the Lexus RX450h, although smaller and slightly less powerful, returns 6.4 l/100km.
All three engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard - a first in this market segment.
The Touareg's all-wheel-drive arrangement is managed by Volkswagen's 4MOTION system and a Torsen limited-slip differential - offering a climbing ability of up to 31 degrees.
An 'Off-road driving programme' tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty. Hill Descent Assist is activated at the same time, while the automatic gearshift points are adjusted to suit.
Switching out the Torsen differential, the V6 TDI can be ordered with an optional Terrain Tech Packet, featuring a more rugged transfer case designed specifically for off-road use. With reduction gearing and centre and rear differentials - each with up to 100 percent locking - the Terrain Tech Packet increases the Touareg's climbing ability to 45 degrees.
Similar to the first Touareg generation, this version has a rotary switch to adapt the car to specific duty conditions over five levels, listed below.
- Off-Road (like 'Off-road driving programme' plus automatic control of the mechanical locks)
- Low (like 'Off-road' plus activation of reduced gearing, higher shift points, no automatic upshift in manual mode);
- Addition of centre differential lock
- Addition of rear differential lock.
Pricing and Availability
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg will be fully unveiled at next month's Geneva Motor Show, with a European market introduction scheduled for April. Pricing details have yet to be revealed.
The new Touareg is due to arrive in Australia in 2011, although Volkswagen Australia has not confirmed a specific launch date.