The Volkswagen Touareg is one of the world’s most popular SUVs. To find out why it is so popular Volkswagen invited us to spend a day with the 2015 Volkswagen Touareg facelift models in Munich.
First launched in 2002 the Volkswagen Touareg SUV was an immediate success. During the eight years the first generation was on the market it sold nearly 500,000 times. The second generation has been on the market for just four years now and just received its mid-life facelift. The success continues with the counter passing the 300,000 cars sold earlier this year. Continue reading to find out what the buzz is all about!
Engine & Gearbox
For the new Volkswagen Touareg models, the two V6 TDI engines have been upgraded extensively. This is logical because 90 per cent of all Touareg models sold across Europe are fitted with one of these two engines over the V8 TDI and the hybrid model.
Both six-cylinder engines have been modified and upgraded by adding an SCR catalytic converter. Using ‘selective catalytic reduction’, the amount of nitrogen oxides in the exhaust fumes is significantly reduced. Thanks to the SCR catalytic converter, the Touareg 4MOTION V6 TDI BlueMotion Technology, as it is called in full, meets the demanding EU6 emissions standard. Both engines also come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
A new feature of the V6 TDIs is also a coasting function. While the vehicle is coasting, the standard 8-speed automatic transmission is disengaged in order to utilise the kinetic energy during periods where no acceleration is required and therefore reduce fuel consumption further. Additionally, aerodynamic refinements to the body and underbody have contributed to improved fuel efficiency with new tyres providing lower roll resistance also a key contributing factor to the fuel-saving
The entry-level V6 TDI delivers a total of 204 hp. Importantly, it now drinks just 6.6-litres of diesel per 100 km compared to 7.0-litres of the older engine. Additionally, CO2 emissions have decreased from 184 g/km to 173 g/km. As for the more potent V6 TDI engine, it now produces 262 hp compared to the 245 hp it pumped out previously. Despite the extra punch it provides over the entry-level V6, this engine also uses just 6.6-litres of diesel per 100 km and emits 174 g/km of CO2.
As for the hybrid powerplant, it combines a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine paired with an electric motor. As a result, it produces 380 hp at 5500 rpm and 428 lb-ft of torque at a low 1000 rpm. Finally, the 4.2-litre TDI V8 produces 340 hp and a whopping 800Nm of torque
Alongside thorough improvements to the engine, the suspension of the latest Volkswagen Touareg has also been uprated and improved. Two of the key improvements include more agile steering while still providing better comfort. Available again as an option for the Touareg is an air suspension system, with which ground clearance can be increased to as much as 300 mm on off-road terrain. Meanwhile, at higher speeds (140 km/h and above) the air suspension automatically lowers the vehicle’s body.
From a visual standpoint, the 2015 Volkswagen Touareg is quite easy to identify from previous model years. Striking features at the front are the bi-xenon headlights, also redesigned and now standard on all models. At the back, new rear lights are used.
In the ‘Chrome & Style’ version, the new Touareg is enhanced by a chrome strip running around the lower part of the vehicle body. The range of colours has also been updated with new colours ‘Reef Blue Metallic’, ‘Sand Gold Metallic’, ‘Black Oak Brown Metallic’ and ‘Moonlight Blue Pearl Effect’ now available for customers to order.
Additionally, the designers have also given a new look to four of the total of 16 styles of alloy wheels available with the addition of the ‘Arica’ wheels (18-inch), ‘Salvador’ (19-inch from Volkswagen R), ‘Masafi’ (20-inch) and ‘Talladega’ (20-inch from Volkswagen R).
In line with the updated exterior features, the interior has also been redesigned with new features including a host of aluminium switches that appear as though they’ve been milled from a solid block of aluminium even though they haven’t. Furthermore, all buttons and switches are now illuminated in white (instead of red) to give the entire cabin a nice fresh and relaxed feel. The range of interior colours and styles of leather has also been extended, while two new decorative wood trims have been designed to match these colours and styles: ‘Sapelli Mahogany’ and ‘Engineered Ebony’.
The Volkswagen Touareg features a large touch screen in the middle which controls most of the cars infotainment features. Luckily there is a normal turning knob for the volume and to zoom the map in- and out. The center console is fairly clean with only necessary controls for the drivetrain, off-road features and gearbox.
For this review we tested both the high-end V8 TDI as the popular V6 TDI in its most powerful form. The V6 TDI pairs the Touareg package with a highly efficient, yet powerful engine. The V8 TDI on the other hand is the flagship Touareg on European roads.
This being my first time ever in a Touareg a few things catch my attention immediately. First of all it is and certainly feels quite a bit bigger than a Audi Q5 or even a Porsche Cayenne. The infotainment system uses a touch screen, which is not as user friendly as BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI system. The interior offers everything you can wish for but the materials used feel a bit less premium than they do in a similar sized but slightly higher priced X5 or Mercedes ML.
Our first drive with the new Volkswagen Touareg is with the V8 TDI version. A massive engine with mega statistics, 800Nm of torque! But on the road it feels hard to translate the statistics to the feeling. Especially at lower speeds it feels a bit lazy and throttle responds could be better. Only when you trade the country roads for the autobahn, the engine start to show its true qualities.
In this aspect the Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI is most suitable for people who drive long distances on the highway and look for performance at the higher end of the speedometer or those who are looking to tow a boat per example. However if you are looking at better low end throttle responds and dynamic performance you are probably better off with the V6 TDI.
In a direct comparison with the V6 diesel powered Gtspirit Audi SQ5 the Touareg impressed with its larger versatility and higher level of comfort. The standard sport suspension in the SQ5 is very hard and cannot be changed. Whereas the Volkswagen Touareg’s air suspension offers a wide range between its five different suspension settings. From a street setting that reduces body roll and increases steering feedback to a off-road setting that raises the entire car by as much as 30mm. The Audi SQ5 does offer a much louder sound and sportier performance with better throttle responds and reduced sprints.
The V6 TDI is ideal as a daily driver and provides effortless acceleration across the board. Only above 200 km/h you will start notice the limits of the engine and get a desire to chose the V8 over the V6.
The 2015 Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI comes optionally with the off-road package. And although we assume most Touaregs will never see any mud in their lifetime, it is interesting to report on the outstanding performance of the Touareg in rough terrain.
Thanks to various off-road settings like the 4th and 5th setting of the suspension that raise the car as much as 30mm, rear differential lock and low gearing, the Touareg is very suitable for the rougher off-road work. During our test we took it up- and down various slopes of rough and wet mud up to 80 degrees in grade. Both on the ascend as the descend the Touaregs systems are there to help you hold the car on the way up automatically or slowly descend by controlling each wheel individually.
Thanks to the raised ride height you can clear obstacles that even a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon would struggle with. Even crossing a mountain sideways at a 70 degree angle is not a problem – although it would be nice if the doors where a bit softer as you are leaning onto them.
With these off-road qualities it is a shame most of these cars never see the dirt. And we can really encourage current and future Touareg owners to make use of this and take the cars out in the terrain. Volkswagen offers regular off-road and driving experiences for owners to learn about off-road driving and find out what the cars are capable off.
The new Touareg is initially being launched in Western Europe this autumn as diesel (V6 TDI and V8 TDI) and hybrid (V6 TSI plus electric motor) models. Orders are already being taken in Germany. Launches subsequently follow in Russia (end of 2014) and North America and Asia (early 2015). In those markets, Volkswagen will also be offering the Touareg once again with V6 and V8 petrol engines, as it has traditionally done.