2018 Volkswagen Touareg first drive

DSC_0826

The screen

Volkswagen has launched the third generation Touareg in New Zealand, and it’s bigger than ever, literally. It’s based on the MLB platform that also lies under the Audi Q7,

The screen…

Bentley Bentayga, and Porsche Cayenne, which means it’s much larger than the second gen model. The new Touareg is 77mm longer, 44mm wider, and just a tad lower than before. The boot space has gained an extra 112 litres to a total of

But the screen…

Uh.. a total of 810 litres. And due largely to the new platform the new Touareg weighs 106kg less than the second gen. There are currently two different engine options, both diesel with a displacement of 3.0-litres. The lower output engine has 170kW and 500Nm of torque, while the higher output engine boasts 210kW and 600Nm of torque. Options include a 48 Volt

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Oh, for fucks….

DSC_0835OK, the new Touareg comes with a massive screen called ‘Innovision Cockpit’ that takes up almost all the dashboard and it’s by far the first thing that anyone is going to notice about the car. It’s actually two screens, but with a glass sheet that covers the instrument panel and curves out into the middle of the dashboard. The dashboard section is entirely a touch screen and controls almost every function on the car, much like in a Tesla.

The system includes gesture control that can detect whether the gesture is coming from the passenger or the driver and while the whole system isn’t initially very intuitive it quickly becomes second nature to move through the menus and functions.

The instrument panel can be configured in many different ways, including becoming a large screen for the night vision camera. This optional system uses a thermal imager mounted just below the bonnet of the car and displays a very detailed view of the road ahead. The system also monitors things on and around the road, and outlines people and animals to alert the driver.

Is that enough?

Yeah, I suppose

OK, now the Touareg has an optional 48 Volt system (available only on the 210kW model) that controls an active anti roll bar system that stiffens up in corners for better handling and turns off when the Touareg is off road. It also incudes rear wheel steering which aid stability at speed and reduces the turning circle to only one metre large than that of the VW Golf.

The cars on the launch drive had standard suspension but even then the Touareg proved an extremely agile vehicle to hustle down a winding road. You can feel the lighter weight of the vehicle, especially through a quick succession of left-right corners.

The 210kW engine in the TDi S I drove has plenty of performance, but to get the most muscular acceleration and down changes I had to use much more of the throttle than I expected. The eight-speed auto is smooth but needs plenty of encouragement to get sporty. I got the feeling it’s tuned more towards smooth progress than outright neck snapping speed. There is a V8 petrol on the way though, so I expect that this would be a much more different animal.

DSC_0832The Touareg TDi V6 170 is priced at NZ$92,990 while the TDi V6 210 comes in at NZ$107,990. Be warned though, as a top spec model will have you digging deep, as the optional 48V full air suspension, all wheel steering and adjustable roll bars costs NZ$10,000. Then again, in this part of the market it’s likely to be selected just as an exercise in ticking every possible box on the list.

The new Touareg is essentially technology on steroids, packed into a convenient SUV size and shape. There’s no doubt that the minute you walk into a VW dealership the salespeople will guide you straight to the Innovision cockpit, but there’s certainly a lot more technology to be found under the skin.

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