• Practicality, efficiency, safety, engines, transmission, interior comfort, technology, looks
  • Overzealous driver assist systems, sat-nav a little counter-intuitive

8 / 10

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

The new second-generation Volkswagen Touareg has arrived in Australia with prices starting from $62,990. While keeping all the things we loved about the first Touareg, the new one comes with a wide variety of technological and fuel-saving updates.

From the outside the new Volkswagen Touareg has been restyled to look more like the rest of the Volkswagen family with a definite and obvious similarity to the new Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Polo.

Although it sits closer to the ground than before, the new Touareg is bigger than the model it replaces. Measuring 4898mm long (144mm longer than previous generation), 1965mm wide (+37mm) and sitting 1732mm tall (+6mm or +16mm for 4Xmotion variant), Volkswagen has increased cabin space while keeping the overall shape relatively unchanged.

The new Touareg’s front-end is enhanced with restyled headlights and grille which give a more distinctive look. The updated rear-end makes do with more curvy tail lamps and pronounced twin-exhausts. Overall, the new shape is definitely an evolution of the old model as Volkswagen has played its styling on the conservative side. Even so, it does portray a sportier look than before.

Going by official sales figures, the Volkswagen Touareg has strong competition in Australia. In reality it’s not directly competing with the Japanese, but it’s also not on the same level as its Luxury SUV contenders (a category in which it’s placed).

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

The figures suggest it goes up against a wide and varied field of luxury SUVs from the Germans, Swedes and even the Brits. Since supply of the old model dried up some time ago, year-to-date the Touareg has been outsold by both its siblings: the upmarket Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne (which all share the same platform). So in a strange way, you will have more exclusivity owning a Touareg than you would a Cayenne!

Either way, there’s no doubt that Volkswagen Australia has plans to increase its market share with the new model.

In order to do that though, the new Touareg needs to appeal to buyers that want more than just a top of the range Ford Territory but are not willing to fork out the big bucks for a BMW X5. It also needs to persuade buyers away from the excellent but ageing Volvo XC90 and the mighty Land Rover Discovery 4. So how exactly does it differ itself, given it sits right in the middle of standard and luxury SUVs?

Although all Touaregs are capable of basic to moderate off-roading (more so if equipped with the 4XMotion four-wheel drive with low-range gear system), in reality not many will ever see the dirt. For that reason Volkswagen has omitted the low-range gears from all but one variant. The Touareg’s main drawcards are practicality, safety and efficiency.

To test the new Volkswagen Touareg, we spent a week with a Touareg 150TDI ($62,990) and another with a Touareg V6 FSI ($77,990). The base model diesel is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine that produces 150kW (at 4000rpm) and 400Nm of torque (2000rpm), while the petrol V6 gives you 206kW and 360Nm of torque.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

Our Touareg 150TDI press car was equipped with the Driver Assistance Package ($5400), which adds adaptive cruise control with front assist and emergency brake function, plus lane assist.

The adaptive cruise control system can be set to follow the vehicle in front at a given distance up to a set speed (using two radar sensors). For example, it can be set to maintain a 50m distance from the car in front and go up to 110km/h. The system will automatically adjust its speed to the vehicle infront, slowing down and speeding up to match traffic (up to set speed).

It works all the way from maximum speed down to a full stop, so it can even be used in traffic. However if the Touareg is stopped for more than two seconds, the driver will need to re-engage the active cruise control – pressing the resume button on the steering wheel will get you another 15 seconds to move with traffic.

Although it sounds complicated, in reality the system is very handy and not that hard to use once you’ve got the hang of it. We used it on the highway from Brisbane to Gold Coast and didn’t have to touch the brake or the accelerator pedal for the entire 45-minute journey. Simply set your desired speed and the car will slow down, speed up, and pretty much make sure you don’t hit anyone. It can be pretty useful for those long drives, so long as you don’t fall asleep.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

If there is a sudden emergency situation where another vehicle merges in front far too close for safety, the front assist system first provides a visual and audible warning to give you some time to back off. If that doesn’t happen it will give the brakes a gentle jab to slow you down, and if all that fails the system will go into emergency brake mode to reduce the severity of the crash. This gave us a bit of a shock when it sounded a loud audible warnings as we were trying to overtake and it thought we were getting too close for comfort.

You’re probably thinking, but won’t it steer for you too? Well, no, not yet. But it does half the job already. If you happen to wander out of your lane (without indicating) or attempt to merge into someone that’s sitting in your blind spot, the blind spot indicators in the mirrors will flash orange and the steering wheel will vibrate (much like how an aircraft gets a stick-shaker to warn of a stall). We found this to be a little too intrusive as the bright orange warning lights on the mirrors became a distraction at night and at times even made it difficult to look in the mirror (although you can dim the brightness, we couldn’t figure out how).

Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and many other makes have had similar systems in place for quiet some time, with much more subtle implementations. We turned lane assist off within a few days.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

Apart from the fancy driving assistance gadgets, standard across the Touareg range is Volkswagen’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. Mated to the 150TDI it provides smooth shifts and allows for start-stop technology. This means the Touareg can turn itself off when stopped and instantly turn back on when the time comes to drive away.

This helps save a good amount of fuel and is incredibly handy for traffic situations, with Volkswagen’s implementation being pretty good. When you come to a set of lights and stop, the engine will turn itself off, the second you let go of the brake pedal to go for the accelerator, it will turn itself back on. It does this so quickly you won’t even notice.

Even so, we would’ve liked to see the engine restart not just by monitoring brake pedal but also the steering wheel. If you happen to want to move the steering wheel when the car is in STOP mode, given the lack of power steering, it becomes rather difficult. Other makes have designed their start-stop technology to be responsive to steering movements as well as brake/accelerator pedals but this is not really a major issue. We found in the petrol V6 that the Bluetooth audio streaming was interrupted by the start-stop technology very frequently, however this didn’t seem to be as persistent in the 150TDI.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

Power delivery from the V6 diesel is smooth but can at times be a tad laggy. This can be fixed if you decide to engage sport mode or simply work the accelerator pedal harder. The 150TDI does the 0-100km/h dash in nine seconds flat and uses 7.6L of diesel per 100km (this will go down to 7.2L/100km from MY12)

The petrol V6 is by and large the pick of the two if fuel economy is not important to you. It emits a very sporty sound and helps the Touareg sprint from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds. It does this while drinking about 10.1L of 95RON (premium unleaded) fuel per 100km. You can also go for the higher spec V6 TDI models (same price as petrol) which provide 176kW (180kW from MY12) and 550Nm of torque. That results in the same 0-100km/h time as the petrol but fuel consumption of just 7.6L of diesel per 100km (down to 7.4 from MY12)

Ride and handling is pretty good even on rough surfaces and we found the cabin ambiance to be top notch thanks to very low amounts of noise coming in from outside.

Move inside and Volkswagen has done a good job of maintaining a more luxurious cabin over its Asian and Australian rivals. It’s no BMW or Mercedes, but it doesn’t cost as much either. Soft touch plastics are aplenty and there is an excessive amount of black used throughout the cabin. There is plenty of room in the front seats and the rear can accommodate three adults without too much hassle.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

The satellite navigation system could be a little more intuitive but it does have full Bluetooth audio streaming and phone connectivity. We couldn’t get our iPod or iPhones to work when plugged in via the provided cable, but they easily synched for wireless music streaming.

Overall it’s a very pleasant cabin to be in and you’d be inclined to go for the Sports interior package ($1000), which gives you a multifunction steering wheel with paddles, brushed aluminium dashboard and pedals plus scuff plates with aluminium inserts.

If the looks and the price have got you over the line, the next question for buying a Volkswagen Touareg is, which variant? The base model 150TDI actually uses the same engine as the mid-spec V6TDI but with a different tune.

The new Touareg currently on sale is the model year 11, which despite being the new-generation, is slightly different to the MY12 coming out later this year. It uses a little more fuel and has a little less power (V6 TDI) but not enough to be a concern. All new Touaregs are built at Volkswagen’s factory in Slovakia.

If your budget doesn’t stretch past $70,000, then the base model 150TDI ($62,990) with a few options is a pretty good choice. However, if you can spare another $15,000, the V6 petrol and V6 TDI (both $77,990) are excellent propositions as well. If off-roading means a lot to you, best to check out the Land Rover Discovery 4, or pay $82,990 for the Touareg V6 TDI 4xMotion.

Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review
Volkswagen Touareg Review

As with all Volkswagens, safety is top-notch with the Touareg equipped with nine airbags as standard. It’s also constructed with occupant protection as a high priority and has a 3,500kg braked towing capacity.

Volkswagen expects the vast majority of customers to go for one of the three diesel choices, which is a good indication that Australians are finally starting to get the benefits of diesel.

The Volkswagen Touareg is an excellent mid-point between the Asian and European offerings. It gives the technology, class and prestige of a European SUV but has a starting price low enough to entice new buyers into the brand.

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Volkswagen Touareg Review
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  • Jim sim

    So VW got rid of that craptacular turbo diesel V10?
    Thank god. Sick of hearing Toe-rag’s go through Turbos, High pressure fuel pumps, Transfer cases etc.
    Awesome car that one.

    • Bangel

      Dim sim you dream too much, all these stories of failures that never happen , you stick to stories of holden and ford failures they hold more water .

  • Pauly

    Yet another good car from VW. Not too shabby considering price. Shame we dont get the Hybrid.

    • KD

      Why would you want the Hybrid when the diesels use less fuel?!

  • me-all-day

    Nice improvement on the old model provided they have improved reliability.

    • Freddo

      Ill be putting money on the fact that they have not impoved reliability.

      • David

        I can only speak from personal experience, but we have had our Touareg for 4 years next month, and have NEVER had a single thing go wrong! And we are getting our new one in November.
        Have you ever owned one Freddo, or just speaking from forums? If so, every single is crap as they all have problems!!

        • Ample Parking

          Some people seem desperate to boost their self esteem by pushing this idea that VW’s are crap quality and not worth what you pay for them. I agree that some of their optional extras can bee a bit pricey, and it’s normal for newly introduced technologies to sometimes have some kinks to iron out. But I get the impression that there are a lot of people who own Fords and Daewoo/Holdens or even some Japanese cars, that feel insecure about their lack of a classier car and just want to bring them down a peg to feel better about themself. VW’s aren’t even that expensive when you compare like for like (including size, the safety, technology and comfort options included, and ignoring the artificial categories that they are wedged into) and the small premium you pay on most models does buy a much nicer interior and much lower depreciation.

          • Mr Gaspo

            My personal experience with 2 VW Golfs (both purchased new) was a long list of failures and faults… really poor when you consider what I paid for these cars. Others may have had better experiences, however mine where not good. In contrast Toyotas an Subarus I have owned before have been totally trouble free.

          • hehe

            Just look at all the VW with faulty rear lights on the road, even new ones. If they cant even get their lights right that speaks alot about their reliability.

            And you sound like an arrogant yuppie with a european car

        • Thema

          I”ve owned 2 new Golf and just like my wifes best friend Toureg all were riddled with issues and costly service and repairs.

          We have all moved on to more reliable cars and will never recommend a VW to anyone due to poor experiences with this brand.

          • Paulo

            You bought a brand new Golf that turned out to be “riddled with issues” so you then decided to buy another new Golf? Either you are talking rubbish or are stupid!

  • Don Quay

    A really nice looking vehicle, but I can’t believe that they still fit a space saver spare tyre without the option of a full size spare. This is particularly bad for the TDI 4xMotion model. It is supposed to be the heavy duty off-road model and it is ridiculous to promote it as off road capable without a proper spare. The other models will probably never go off the bitumen, so perhaps not such an issue with them. Come on VW, it is possible to build an SUV this large with space for a full size spare! (And 7 seats too. It doesn’t have to be as large as the Q7 to fit an extra row, Ford and Volvo manage it)

  • John Citizen

    I’m not liking the one brand one look fad that’s happening at the moment. Each model should have it’s own distinct look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1715760895 Charles Dean

    Why would anyone seriously pay 82k when you can get say a Lexus RX350, which is more powerful at 204KW, smoother, more luxurious etc etc?..

    • Ample Parking

      Personally I think it would be a line ball decision between an entry-level premium option like this VW, or the equivalent luxury Toyota.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1715760895 Charles Dean

        Sorry but a Volkswagen is not premium marque.. That’s like saying the Aurion is premium car because it has leather upholstery and wood trim..
        Volkswagen for some reason in Australia have managed to convinced the market that It is luxury, it’s certainly not..

        And Lexus is made by Toyota but they’re totally different to Toyota’s..

        • Bangel

          MATE a toxus is a toyota and thats life just like a vw is an audi , all pinching bits from each, other get over it , lexus is a tarted up toyota .

          • Brenn

            SO what if Lexus is tarted up Toyota? Have you ever driven or at least even been inside a Lexus?

            If you have then you will not be negative because i can say Lexus by far makes the highest quality cars..

            Look at this image of the interior of a Lexus


          • Bangel

            Get over over it i have been is250 and 350 , whats so exciting about it , no better than an audi, merc or bmw , definately does not have the aura of the euro brands , all i see is an upmarket toyota with extra sound deadening .

          • diddlio

            It’s not a VW thread without Bangangel.

            Tarted up Toyota? So I suppose you’d say the LFA is just what, a Camry suped up?

        • Ample Parking

          I said entry-level premium, not premium. Compact and sub-compact are also different to eachother.

          And I’ll second Bangel’s comments.

          BTW, did you ever see that Robert DeNiro movie where he got sacked from being a Lexus car salesman because he was telling the customers that they were crazy to pay so much for a Toyota?

        • Phil

          Lexus is made by Toyota but they’re totally different to Toyotas? Wow that makes a lot of sense.

          So when they make a Aurion Presara and stick a Lexus ES350 badge on it (which they do overseas), it suddenly becomes totally different? Please explain how?

          • Bangel

            Wht makes me laugh is the lexus sales in oz , for all the noise the fan boys make this is the result in august

            MERCEDES 1965
            BMW 1305
            AUDI 1080
            LEXUS 567

            After 20 years in the market they are not even making a dent in the euro sales .

            Still that perception with mates is that its just a toyota in drag , trouble is ,line them up side by side and you see the design DNA , they need to get some fresh euro designers , and break away from the jap look .

    • Phil

      Why would anyone seriously pay 82K for a Lexus RX350 when they could just get a Toyota Klugar (it’s the same car!) for $38,990 drive away (or if u want the same kit as the Lexus, just go for the $58,990 Grande version).

    • Golfschwein

      The answer is that Touareg purchasers/drivers probably wouldn’t be seen dead in the Lexus. I wouldn’t be. It’s the Buck Rodgers glitz I’ll pass on, as well as the probably inferior driving dynamics.

      On the flipside, Lexus buyers couldn’t possibly see themselves in something as plain as the Touareg. There’s room for the two approaches, so I can easily call a truce on the fact that some (very nice people, probably) prefer the Lexus.

  • Gary

    Nice car but when optioned up it is within a few thousand of a similar spec Q7 so you then get a bigger car with 7 seats and an Audi badge if your that way inclined.
    Which i am!

  • Michael

    Wish it came with 7 seats – I would trade the Kluger in a heartbeat.

  • KD

    Car Advice, VW didn’t bring in any old model Touaregs since March 2010, hence why it has been outsold by Q7 and Cayenne. Maybe you should change the wording of your story so it doesn’t seem such a cop out?

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Thanks KD, I’ve updated the article to make that more obvious.

  • KD

    Also, you could have dimmed the Side Assist lights if you found the too bright

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Yes, that’s true (and I’ve added that to the article for reference). But despite my attempts, I couldn’t find the option. It was easier just to turn it off.

      • KD

        I guess this sort of thing is similar with so many new cars these days. They have so much technology in them that it takes months to learn how everything works!

        Also, your iPod wouldn’t have worked with the standard VW Media Device Interface cable that has a USB input on it if you plugged your standard white Apple iPod cable in. VW make you opt for their MDI cable which has an iPod dock on the end of it, its about $90 IIRC 😉

  • dude

    Bangel, do you log in to multiple computers and vote for your own comments?

  • NICK

    great car but styling is ageing if you look at the picture at the top of the page but still looks all right great v10 diesel but now is gone

  • BM Fan

    I test drove the 176kw diesel a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed by the ride which felt boat like. Power and acceleration was pretty good though as was the build quality and general feel. I think the 20 grand or so premium for an X5 is worth it which I test drove immediately after. It felt tight and sports car like. I have no comment on reliability as I’ve never owned a VW but have had no issues with the first gen (E53) X5 which I’ve owned for 7 years. Depreciation is my biggest gripe with the Beemer.

    • M

      BM Fan – Have come close a few times to grabbing an X5 – they are great vehicles and the second series seems to have resolved to some degree the depreciation concerns with the first – question – you mentioned the VW felt boat like – with our shocking road surfaces – did you drive the VW on country roads??? The main turn off with the X5 for me is it can feel damn harsh on our poor roads.

  • Robert Ryan

    Passing resemblance ,especially the grill to the new Ford Territory. How do they compare in size?

  • Marcelito

    Spot on Golfschwein…why all the snipping …both Lexus and VW makes some awesome cars… each to their own.. Some people on the forums need to take a deep breath and count to ten

  • o

    VW isn’t a premium brand but price wise they seem to be becoming more mainstream. The 22k golf is a steal. you can get a passat for 35k, I would even go as far to say i consider the polo premium…at least against the competition

  • Nick01

    How come there’s no pic of the entire dashboard?

  • Bill Nolan

    great car, VW has a majot problem with tow bar and unable to use WDH with vehicle, a problem towing vans

    • http://Caradvice Michael

      How come a WDH cannot be used, as I am interested in getting one for towing large van? Salesman advised wiring issue is fixed.

  • Dad

    will there be a 7 seater soon

  • Evaddirb

    my My08 touareg is still as fantastic from new to now. Not sure bout the new one thou?

Volkswagen Touareg Specs

Car Details
150 TDI
7P MY11
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$39,820 - $45,250
Dealer Retail
$39,410 - $46,860
Dealer Trade
$30,600 - $36,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
400Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
150kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.6L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:3500  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
255/60 R17
Rear Tyres
255/60 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Trip Computer
Wood Grain Trim
Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Optional Features
Power Sunroof
Satellite Navigation
Premium Sound System
Metallic Paint, Xenon Headlights
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin