Volkswagen Touareg Review

Find out more about the Volkswagen Touareg in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • High quality cabin
  • Roomy
  • Solid off-road performance

Cons

  • No seven seat option
  • Expensive extras list
  • High running costs
  • MPG

    31 - 42

  • CO2

    173 - 203 g/km

Model review

The Touareg - named for the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara Desert - was introduced in 2002 as the largest Volkswagen car ever made. It's based on the same platform that the Volkswagen Group uses as the basis of the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne.

Originally, the Touareg was available with a number of different engines, both petrol and diesel, from around the Volkswagen Group. These included V6 and V8 petrol engines but also a remarkable V10 diesel and the immensely complicated 6.0-litre W12 also found in the Volkswagen Phaeton.

A hybrid was also available at one point. However, other than the US market, petrol engines were not huge sellers and eventually the range was resolved to just a 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel engine with the second generation car that arrived in 2010.

The Touareg is in a tough sector, as cars of this type often attract a premium. This sees the VW up against some tough rivals, including its platform siblings. Others include BMW's X5, the Mercedes GLE, the Volvo XC90 and the Land Rover Discovery.

Despite the size, the Touareg is exclusively a five-seater, which makes it a little less versatile than some rivals, but both generations have offered solid off-road performance in addition to being comfortable on the road. A good towing capacity completes the SUV portfolio.

A third generation car is due to arrive in 2018.

Latest model

The current Touareg arrived in 2015, as a facelift of the 2010 second generation car. The facelift restyled the car to meet Volkswagen's current corporate face and take advantage of new safety technologies.

Trim levels are broadly representative of the norm for Volkswagen, with the entry model being the SE, R-Line as the next step up and R-Line Plus capping off the range. Whatever specification is chosen, the Touareg comes with four-wheel drive as standard, along with electronic two-zone climate control, DAB radio, heated front seats, hill descent control, rain sensors, heated washer jets and safety assists like automatic post-collision braking, stability control and electronic differential lock.

Whichever Touareg you choose it will be powered by a 3.0-litre V6 'TDI' diesel, in one of two states of tune, driving an 8-speed automatic gearbox. VW's '4MOTION' system drivers all four wheels. Despite the 2,185kg kerb weight of the Touareg, this translates into decent performance, and emissions for all versions is 180g/km or less – around 42mpg.

Value for money

The Touareg isn't a cheap car. An entry-level model in SE specification is £44,295, and it rises to more than £51,000 for a top specification car. However, the base line for equipment is impressive and it's a very large vehicle indeed so there's a lot of metal for the money.

In fact the SE is pretty decent value, but the car makes less sense the more options you add. R-Line is essentially a styling package with lowered sports suspension – although it does add a standard panoramic roof. R-Line Plus adds the electrically-adjustable leather seats but little else.

Heading to the options list itself pushes the value equation even further out – air suspension will run you out £2,000 (more on the SE), any paint beyond standard is £770, and adaptive cruise control is £1,770. It can get very expensive, very quickly compared to premium rivals with the same kit.

All Touaregs sit in a rather high insurance group, but as each gets around 42mpg and 176-180g/km CO2 rating, their running costs are not especially high. Beware that all cars fit into the higher VED band thanks to the high list price. Depreciation may be a concern too – a £50k car might be worth less than £20k after three years.

Looks and image

Volkswagen, in general, has a rather positive image. Despite the name – German for 'people's car' – VW has a borderline premium image, with its cars almost becoming a subtle display of wealth; not showy enough to be a full premium model, but more premium in feel than mainstream marques like Ford. It brings with a reputation for high quality, reliable vehicles.

The Touareg does little to buck that. It's a handsome and imposing vehicle, at least from the outside. While it's undeniably well-built on the inside too, it does come across as a little boring and lacking the flair of its rivals. That does, perhaps, play into the rugged and utilitarian pitch of the Touareg as the car that can take anything you throw at it, but makes it a harder sell next to more luxurious or sporting rivals.

Space and practicality

You'd expect a great deal of practicality from the Touareg – it's 4.8 metres long after all – and it doesn't disappoint. The second generation car has a 40mm longer wheelbase than the first, and it results in copious legroom front or rear in a car that already has ample headroom.

The boot is impressive too. There's a wide, clear opening with no lip and 580 litres of storage, opening to 1,642 litres with the rear seats down. Ultimately it's not quite as good as some rivals – the XC90 manages almost as much with seven seats in place as the VW does with just five – but it's a lot of room that should suit most families. The lack of sixth and seventh seats is a bit of a sour note on the family front though.

EuroNCAP tested the first generation Touareg in 2004, and it scored the maximum five stars. The second generation car has not been tested in Europe, but US testing body IIHS has and found it to be 'Good' in all areas. Standard safety equipment includes electronic brake force distribution, stability control, traction control, differential lock, post-collision braking, a driver alert system and front and rear curtain airbags.

Engines

There's only one engine available in the Touareg, although it comes in two forms. It's a 3.0-litre, V6 'TDI' diesel and it's available either as a 201hp unit or a 258hp version.

The 201hp option will accelerate the Touareg to 60mph in 8.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 128mph. It is rated to 42,2mpg combined, equivalent to 176g/km CO2 which puts it in the £800 first year VED band.

These economy figures do not change much for the 258hp model. Combined fuel economy falls to 41.5mpg combined, but the CO2 rating is still just 180g/km, putting it in the same VED bracket. However, the performance is improved significantly, with 0-60mph falling to 7.1 seconds and the top speed improving to 140mph.

Both versions use an 8-speed automatic gearbox and 4MOTION four-wheel drive. They have the same towing rating of 3.5 tonnes too.

Running costs

For the most obvious daily cost – fuel – the Touareg is a solid performer. Either engine returns around 42mpg combined, though be aware of the effect that fitting optional, larger wheels may have on fuel economy. It's not bad for a car weighing nearly 2.2 tonnes, even if it will be a little  worse in normal driving conditions.

Other costs are less wallet-friendly. Insurance sits in group 40 of 50 for all models, so you might be facing an unpleasant bill every year. Your pocket might sting a bit at the first year VED of £800 too, and don't forget that every car sits in a higher annual band due to the list price, so it'll cost the full £450 every year thereafter. You'll also need to top up the 19 litre AdBlue tank every 7,000 miles or so.

On the bright side, repair and service bills shouldn't be too bad. There's a lot of parts-sharing across the Volkswagen Group and this means that there's few specialist bits and a good availability of components, leading to lower prices.

Things to look out for

The Touareg is just about as robust as they come, with no reported major mechanical woes and only a small number of product recalls affecting bodywork on first generation cars.

You'll need to keep an eye on wear and tear then, and the Touareg is a bit hungry for some components. Tyres wear fairly quickly and because all four are driven you'll need to take care not to let them get too far out of kilter or it may impact how the car drives. It's a heavy car, so brakes will take a bit of a beating too. Although the Touareg is a very capable off-roader, damage from green-laning is less likely than parking scrapes and dings – it's a great family car, so will see a lot of family use.

It's worth being aware of the AdBlue requirement of the second generation cars, as the engine will not start if the tank gets below a certain level – though you get 1,500 miles of warning before that happens. Although not likely to be relevant to first owners, diesel particulate filters are also something to be aware of, especially if the Touareg is often used for short journeys like school runs.

Rivals

Volkswagen builds the Touareg on the same platform – and in the same factory in Slovakia – as the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Skoda Kodiaq, which immediately creates three rivals among its own siblings.

It has tough competition from outside too. The BMW X5 is one of the biggest names in the sector, along with the Mercedes GLE. There's also the Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery all occupying the same premium full-size SUV sector.

Depreciation warning

Volkswagens typically hold onto their value well, thanks to the reputation for good build quality. They provide an enticing proposition for second owners, keeping second-hand prices buoyant. However, the Touareg is a large, expensive car and these do not tend to hold value well.

Three-year values vary, but expect no more than 40% of your value back. It makes it all the more important not to go over the top on the expensive options list too much as, however tempting the extra kit is, most of it won't give you any better residuals.

Which Touareg to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion 231 SEL 5dr Tip Auto

Most MPG

3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion 231 SEL 5dr Tip Auto

Fastest Model (0-60)

3.0 V6 TSI 4Motion SEL 5dr Tip Auto

Trims Explained

There are three different specifications of the Volkswagen Touareg

SE

The SE comes as standard with bi-xenon headlights, leather seats (heated in the front and with six-way manual adjustment), DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, refrigerated glovebox, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, rain and dusk sensors, an electronic parking brake with hold function, parking sensors front and rear, and heated washer jets.

Prices start from £45,295

R-Line

R-Line upgrades the alloy wheels from 19-inch to 20-inch, adds lowered sports suspension, automatic tailgate opening and closing, panoramic sunroof, and keyless entry and start. It also gets an R-Line styling kit and badging, including 65% tinted windows and aluminium pedals.

Prices start from £48,295

R-Line Plus

The R-Line Plus adds a birds-eye 'Area View' monitor and 14-way adjustable Vienna leather seats. Other than this, the Plus trim adds some upgraded 21-inch alloy wheels and different interior inlays.

Prices start from £49,455

Summary

  1. No 7-seat option
  2. Diesel engines only
  3. Four-wheel drive is standard
  4. Automatic gearbox only
  5. DAB and climate control standard
  6. Expensive options list
  7. Steep depreciation
  8. High running costs
  9. Prices start from £45,295

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