Volkswagen Touareg R-Line: long-term test review

2 Aug, 2019 1:00pm Pete Gibson

Second report: How does the petrol VW Touareg compare with our diesel car?

Verdict

4
We think the specification of our Touareg is spot on, even with some expensive options added. An encounter with another model has proved our point, and the diesel engine makes a lot of sense, too.

Mileage: 7,691
Economy: 46.3mpg

I’m loving life with my big Volkswagen Touareg SUV for all sorts of reasons. 

But a chance encounter with a different variant of the car got me thinking about which version of the Touareg I would choose if I were to buy one myself, and which options are most important to me.

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My car has a 228bhp V6 diesel engine and it’s in R-Line trim, which is a mid-range specification. The other car I found myself in, briefly, was a newer 3.0-litre petrol Touareg with 335bhp, but it was in a lower, SE L, spec – and it costs £52,675, just £40 more than my diesel version.

An initial look at some numbers suggests that the petrol version probably wouldn’t work for me. It sits in the same 37 per cent company car tax bracket as my diesel model, so there’s no saving to be made there, and while I didn’t have enough time to tell what its real-world economy would be, the WLTP figure of 25.9mpg is way off my Touareg’s official 34.4mpg. I’m actually getting 46.3mpg without even trying – I don’t purposely drive more slowly to maximise fuel economy – so it’s hard to imagine the petrol car saving me any money.

So why might you want one? Probably because it has over 100bhp more than my car, which is a big chunk of extra power. Yet I still can’t see myself needing any more grunt than my car already has. That might be because the V6 TDI has 500Nm of torque at just 1,750rpm, so it has loads of shove even at low revs. The petrol Touareg might have more power, but it has a bit less torque, at 450Nm (although it’s produced slightly lower in the rev range, at 1,340rpm).

My car is claimed to go from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds, which is more than fast enough for me – especially considering the excellent fuel economy for a massive SUV. I’d stick with diesel power, then.

Another thing that the encounter with my TDI’s sibling made clear is that the Touareg’s Innovision Cockpit is a core reason why I love the car’s interior so much. You see, this other model was fitted with the basic set-up, called Discover Navigation Pro. 

This uses a decent 9.2-inch touchscreen (right), which would be huge in any other model. Yet the Innovision Cockpit in my car (a £3,560 option) brings a 15-inch screen and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster that replaces the traditional dials. Together, they give the whole cabin a completely different look and feel. It’s way more upmarket and hi-tech, so I would go so far as to say that it’s a pricey but must-have option.

The two screens stretch across the dash and are customisable and easy to operate, with a responsive interface and clear menu buttons. The sat-nav is really easy to work as well. I’ve loved using it, so I really would want this option if I were buying, despite it coming with a fairly hefty price tag.

There are a few other extras that I’d be keen on, too, including my car’s plush leather seats (£1,790). Like the Innovision Cockpit, these really lift the interior and make the Touareg stand out; luxury appeal is one of the main reasons why large SUVs are so popular, and the seats are key to that. The 20-inch alloys and black accents on the R-Line car’s exterior look great too, although I wouldn’t call them a must-have. Perhaps the best compromise is to go for an SE L car, but with these key options added.

However, R-Line does come with four USB sockets as standard, which has been really handy for me – my two daughters are always needing to charge their devices in the car, so the extra ports are helpful. Plus, there’s four-zone climate control, which means that when they’re in the back they can change the settings to suit them.

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So, as much as I like this petrol Touareg’s more subtle colour and styling, I’d still choose my diesel car. Its useful optional extras and powerful – but economical – engine mean it’s perfect for me.

First report: Volkswagen Touareg 

The stylish new Volkswagen Touareg SUV has splashed down on the jumbo-bg fleet. What are our first impressions?

Mileage: 2,367
Economy: 46.3mpg

This is the newest addition to our fleet, the Volkswagen Touareg – and as you can see, it’s already making a splash. Our model is fitted with air suspension, which is a fantastic extra. It means the car can lower itself for better aerodynamics on the motorway, boosting economy, or raise the body for more ground clearance.

This function is perfect for taking on fords, which has already come in very handy. Recently, on the way to pick up my kids from a camping trip, I found my route blocked by water – yet the Touareg’s raised ride height made fording the flood easy, and I arrived in good time to collect them.

Our car also includes a self-levelling function, off-road modes and rear-wheel steering, which has been really useful for parking. This Touareg doesn’t only have air suspension, though – it features the Professional Chassis Pack (£4,890), which includes all of the above as well as an innovative set-up that incorporates electromechanical anti-roll bars. These work to eliminate body roll and improve stability on rough, uneven road surfaces. We’ll learn more about the system once we have spent more time in the car, but the Touareg’s agility with this set-up included is quite remarkable. It’s much more tied down than I expected considering its huge size.

Our new VW has so much technology on board that I’m having trouble taking it all in. I reckon it’ll be several months before I get used to everything. A huge 15-inch touchscreen is fitted on the dashboard, blending into a digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.

It’s called the Innovision Cockpit, and it hasn’t failed to impress anyone who gets in the car so far. The huge screen is a sign of things to come in the automotive world, because buyers are getting used to ever-larger digital displays in all areas of their lives. However, the VW’s is one of the biggest I’ve come across. It makes seeing where I’m going on the sat-nav easy, although I can also display that on the digital dashboard.

The rest of the cabin is great, too, with comfortable seats and plenty of good-quality materials, so I have no complaints about spending time behind the wheel.

The engine is another highlight, because it’s a real powerhouse. With 228bhp, ours is the least powerful motor available in the Touareg range, yet I can’t see why you would want more. It has 500Nm of torque, which is more than enough for me; I can overtake pretty much anything I want with a small squeeze of the throttle. It doesn’t need to be revved hard to add speed, because all that torque is produced low in the rev range. This means it stays nice and quiet, too.

When I first saw the Touareg in the company car park, I did worry that it might be too big for me. However, this model is so easy to drive that I’ve forgotten all about my concerns – and that’s partly thanks to the rear-wheel steering, which reduces the turning circle at low speed.

Also, all the various cameras and sensors work really well, and I haven’t felt uncomfortable parking the big SUV at all. A testament to technology is that it can turn one of the biggest cars I’ve ever run into something that’s as easy to park as a family saloon. The car’s hi-tech nature also means that it resists body roll much more than other SUVs of this size that I’ve tried.

Of course, such a huge car means there’s loads of boot space as well: a gigantic 810 litres with the seats in place. This isn’t a seven-seater model, so there’s extra room in the luggage area compared with rivals such as the Audi Q7. It’s a bit odd that VW doesn’t offer a version of the Touareg with seven seats, but I have no need for the extra people capacity so this doesn’t bother me.

In fact, the huge boot meant that when I went to collect my kids from camping, I had no trouble fitting all of their gear in the back. And now that the VW has started work as my photographer’s transport, I’ve discovered it eats up all of my camera and car-cleaning gear without any trouble at all. I love spending my working week travelling in comfort, too – so the next six months with the Touareg should be great.

* Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • Model: VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 231PS 4MOTION R-Line
  • On fleet since: April 2019
  • Price: £52,635
  • Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel, 228bhp
  • CO2/tax: 173g/km/£455
  • Options: Premium paint (£1,780), Driver’s Assistant Pack Plus (£860), Professional Chassis Pack (£4,890), leather seats (£820), heated seats (£250), keyless entry (£50), 21-inch alloys (£750), tyre-pressure monitoring (£170)
  • Insurance: Group: 39/Quote: £678
  • Mileage: 7,961
  • Economy: 46.3mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far