2012 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Luxury SUV
Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.1 l/100 km
Fuel Economy (tested): 12.9 l/100 km
Volkwagen’s 2012 Touareg is a formidable contender in the prestige SUV segment. On price, while commanding a premium, it sits roughly in the middle ground of the larger SUV segment.
If you're looking for sheer grunt, the Touareg has a pair of torquey turbo-diesels on offer. But the V6 FSI petrol, the subject of this review, shows just how civilised an SUV can be.
Quality: Just when it looked like Volkswagen had reached a peak for interior craftsmanship the Touareg brings a new level of sophistication. It's familiar, but very smart.
Supple Nappa leather seating, touch-screen navigation, glossy inlays and silver highlights provide a quality feel and a premium contemporary ambiance.
Comfort: Powered front seats allow a broad range of adjustment, including height adjustable lumbar support and side bolster adjustment.
Front or back there’s no shortage of head or legroom, and,in the rear, three abreast fit with ease making long journeys a hassle-free affair, aided further by a reclining rear bench.
Equipment: Standard equipment includes a multi-function trip-computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB/AUX audio inputs, a six-disc CD stacker, cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, foglamps and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Storage: The Touareg’s load space measures 580 litres with the rear seats upright. With an electric tailgate and low floor, it is a breeze to load up with prams, golf clubs or a weekends worth of DIY projects. Seats down, luggage space grows to 1642 litres.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While the Touareg's peak power of 206kW at 6200rpm remains unchanged and maximum torque of 360 Nm comes online 200rpm higher, the big change to driveability comes courtesy of the eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the transmission delivers silken gear changes and offers a gear ratio for every driving situation, there’s also much to be said for the free-revving V6.
It's smooth and quiet for daily driving, but musters up a sweet engine note when hard at work. On the highway, or even a little way off the beaten track, and has no trouble hustling the Touareg’s 2097kg mass along.
Off Road: The Touareg’s 4Motion system offers constant 4WD and for tougher-tracks a dial to switch from ‘On Road’ to ‘Off Road’ mode modifies traction and stability control settings.
It's for lighter off-road duty - there's no dual-range transfer case or locking differentials; those features are available exclusively on the Touareg V6 diesel 4XMotion model.
Refinement: There’s little to fault here. Refinement is top-notch with a smooth engine and transmission working harmoniously and little intrusion of road or wind noise. Only occasionally would the start-stop system re-start with a jolt sending a ripple through the cabin.
Suspension: Four-wheel coil springs keep the Touareg well planted on the open road, yet there’s still a great deal of soft ride comfort. Over high-frequency bumps, shudders become apparent, but otherwise the ride is cosseting. Steering is also well isolated from any roughness beneath the front wheels.
Braking: The brake response is swift and secure courtesy of four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. The Touareg remains level under hard braking and doesn’t nose-dive the way some SUVs can.
ANCAP rating: Not Tested.
Safety features: The Touareg features nine airbags, with dual front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain and a driver’s knee bag.
Electronic aids like ABS, traction control, stability control, EBD, brake assist and hill hold assist help keep the car out of trouble, while all seats feature three-point seat belts.
Optional safety equipment also includes blind-spot warning, lane departure warning and active cruise control to maintain a safe following distance between safer traffic in front.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Standard scheduled services range in cost from $480 to $570, with major services costing around $1200.
Intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months, and major services are scheduled for 60,000km/48 months, 90,000km/72 months and 120,000km/96 months.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Volvo XC90 3.2 Executive ($71,490) - Like the Touareg, the XC90 represents good value amongst premium SUVs, and is $6,500 cheaper.
But it's getting long in the tooth, which shows in areas like handling and ergonomics. The engine also lacks the power and torque of Volkwagen’s V6. (see XC90 reviews)
Toyota Prado VX ($74,404) - Hugely capable off-road and able to get to places the Touareg can only dream of, plus seating for seven means more versatility. The trade-off comes in on-road performance though which makes the Prado less city-suitable. (see Prado reviews)
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland ($69,500) - With a luxurious equipment list and standard safety features to shame the opposition, the off-road ready Grand Cherokee offers incredible value.
The thirst of the Hemi V8 may hurt in the long term, but the available turbo-diesel is a viable option. (see Grand Cherokee reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Although the Touareg is priced in the middle of the premium SUV pack, it leads the way for refinement, interior comfort and its silky powertrain.
While its style is understated, perhaps a little bland, there’s a comprehensively engineered and delightfully easy-to-use package beneath the skin.