Test model: 2007 Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI
Options fitted: Metallic paint only. Almost all the goodies come as standard kit aboard the Touareg although, disappointingly, metallic and Pearlescent paint is a $1450 option – and given that you only have one choice in the standard paint line up (Campanella white and trust me, that’s no choice) you will need to go with this option.
Recommended retail: $74,990
On road price: Around $81,000
Warranty: Standard Volkswagen 3 years or 100,000 kms
Where the car sits in the model line-up: Right in the middle and beside the 3.6 V6 FSI which has the same price tag. Below these two, sit the 2.5 R5 TDI at $64,990 and above, the Tiger Tank of SUV’s - the monstrous 5.0 V10 TDI at $121,990 and quite the bargain at his reduced price.
“While the styling may not grab you in the same way that it’s more expensive cousin, the Porsche Cayenne does, be assured, the Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI is one of the most accomplished SUV’s on the market today”
You won’t find many Volkswagen shareholders complaining about Porsche’s current 27.4% stake in the company. Approval has already been given to raise that stake to 29.9%.
You see, the Touareg was a joint development project between the two companies and that was only ever going to be a good thing for Touareg owners, given that the more expensive Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 share the same Chassis.
The brief for this project was to create an off-road vehicle that could handle as a sports car and that’s pretty much what you get with any Touareg other than the base model 2.5 R5 TDI, which simply doesn’t cut it in the power to weight stakes.
There’s precious few Turbo Diesel powerplants available today, refined enough for use in Luxury vehicles. Volkswagen’s 3.0 V6 TDI is on par with the stunning Peugeot/Ford 2.7-litre V6 twin-turbo unit, found in the Peugeot 407 Coupe and Jaguar’s S-Type, and that’s one hell of a compliment.
Within minutes after staring this third generation common rail direct injection 24 valve engine, you will simply not know you are driving a diesel propelled vehicle. In fact, so petrol like are the characteristics of this engine, you will need to pay careful attention not to put the wrong fuel in the tank in the first month or so of ownership.
I prefer the driveability of this V6 3.0 TDI engine to the 3.6-litre V6 petrol cousin and with 165kW on tap at 4000rpm and a whopping 500Nm of torque coming on song at around 1500rpm, so will you!
At 220 kilograms, there’s more than one guy at my local Fitness First, who can squat more than this engine weighs, and that’s downright extraordinary considering the power output.
It’s clean too, for a vehicle weighing in at a sizeable 2345 kg. State of the art engine technology, incorporating several emission reduction processes, way too complex to understand unless you have a PhD in mechanical engineering, means that this engine is as clean as it gets.
Sprinting from 0-100km/h in the Touareg feels slightly quicker than the 9.9sec quoted by Volkswagen, but where this thing really shines is roll-on acceleration, when you need to pass another car on a freeway or country road. It’s quicker than many large 4-door sedans and absolutely potent on the run.
If you’re worried about body roll into corners with this sizeable German, no need. While you’re never going to get a vehicle of this size and weight to perform in the twisty bits with the same poise as a Golf GTi, the Touareg is capable of taking fast curves at autobahn speeds with uncanny stability.
Sports car like handling on a large luxury 4X4 SUV is a contradiction in terms, but the guy who heads up chassis and suspension at Volkswagen, clearly knows his game.
Steering is precise and quick while stopping power is phenomenal with 6 piston brake callipers up front and 4 pistons taking care of the rear. Brake pedal pressure and feel, inspires confidence along with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist working in concert with ESP and ASR traction control.
Whether you’re on a highway, goat track or our network of B and C class roads in Australia - the Touareg rewards with a remarkably supple ride. The wide track on the Touareg helps, but so do the 17-inch alloys wearing fat 255/60 wide profile tyres all round. But if you like it even fatter, you can option up to a set of 19-inch alloys with some massive 275/45 low profile rubber – my kind of footprint!
The standard suspension consists of Double wishbones front and rear, but for the price of a week in Fiji – that’s eight grand all up, you can opt for Air Suspension with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) which provides even greater comfort and dynamics. Thankfully, this option pack includes Bi-xenon headlights, which makes this deal far more palatable.
The beauty of this system is it allows you to adjust the damper settings (Automatic, Sport and Comfort) from a scroll wheel behind the smooth shifting 6-speed Tiptronic shift lever. You can drop the clearance level down to 160mm for loading and up to 300mm for serious rock-hoping. When in Sport mode though, the ride height is automatically reduced to 195mm, which is part of the reason, why this vehicle handles so well.
As good as the Touareg is on road, it’s no soft-roader either. And that’s especially true of the V6 TDI variant with its low down torque. Despite its five star luxury ride and unibody frame, it can handle almost anything you care to throw at it. I drove this vehicle through 50km of some of the nastiest dirt roads in country NSW and it was barely a challenge for this vehicle.
On Board the Touareg is Volkswagen’s 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system that splits torque evenly between front and rear axles. If needed though, it can shift up to 100% of the power to either axle depending on conditions. You can also dial up (literally) low range via a bespoke piece of switchgear just behind the gearshift.
That’s not all. The Touareg can handle extreme inclines allowing you to climb at up to a scary 45 degrees. If you’re going to try this sort of stuff out then you’ll probably need Hill descent control and Hill Holding Assistance which will keep the car from rolling backwards if you’re having second thoughts. Both these systems are standard across the range.
And if you need to take this vehicle skinny dipping – then dive right in. Door seals, headlamps and electrical connectors are watertight as well as special intake air channels which will allow the Touareg to drive through water at depths of up to 500mm or 580mm, should you decide to brush that trip to Fiji and go for the Air suspension.
Audi are considered the world title holders when it comes to automotive interiors. The quality these guys put into their cars borders on the bespoke. It’s a good thing then, that Volkswagen own 100% of Audi because what you find inside the Touareg is far more Audi than Volkswagen Golf.
The Mercedes M Class is a nice place to sit but the Touareg is better. More sumptuous, with lashings of walnut wood and brushed aluminium inserts. You’ll also be treated to leather seats which are infinitely more comfortable than a $10,000 Moran couch I sat on recently in David Jones. No, I didn’t buy it, just hoping for that big red ball to roll by.
The Luxury features inventory is way too large to itemise here, but includes; front and rear parking sensors with audible and visual warnings, automatic headlight on function with rain sensing wipers (this vehicle deserves Bi-xenon headlights as standard kit) dual-zone climate control, premium (and I do mean premium) audio system with 6 disc changer with 10 Dynaudio (A super high-end Scandinavian loudspeaker company) speakers – it can literally blow you away but the downside is, the changer is mounted in the rear cargo area which is simply inconvenient and old hat!
Further down the list are; electric heated front seats with 12-way adjustment, a superb four spoke leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control functions which is a treat, electric everything with automatic dimming rear-view mirror.
I might have expected Satellite Navigation in standard guise in this variant, but no such luck. It’s a whopping $4,490 option and that’s just too much for a feature, which can be replaced with a $600 portable touch screen system from any number of stores. Granted, the in dash systems are far neater and more practical, if only they were about half this price!
And if you’re after a little ray of sunshine via a glass slide/tilt sunroof that will set you back a not so unreasonable $2190, although again, you might have expected it as standard fare. There is however, one option you might want to consider if you happen to suffer from back pain and the like. That’s the automatic opening and closing tailgate. At $1390 it may represent reasonable value although I note, it’s standard kit across the Lexus RX SUV range.
There’s a tonne of storage space along with plenty of cup/bottle holders, hidden compartments and 12V sockets but sadly, no ipod input socket (it’s a $600 option at the moment which is crazy) and that’s not good, if you are one of the million plus ipodites in this country.
As you would expect of an SUV in this class, airbags are a plenty, with driver and front passenger dual stage, and side and head curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers.
With the recent car jacking of a Sydney doctor, it’s comforting to note that all doors automatically lock after takeoff. This is especially pleasing if you are driving through a seedy area at night with or without the family.
And if you have kids, you are able to program in two-stage unlocking so that the doors will not open on the first attempt but rather, the second go. It’s a feature now quite common on many prestige models even some priced under $50,000.
It’s downright scary when you have to fill up from empty in a large and powerful SUV especially if there’s no company petrol card lying around. Common Rail direct injection has basically put an end to that kind of worry and with a figure of 10.9 litres/100km the Touareg is downright economical.
The Touareg is currently receiving a well-earned facelift (its first since launch in 2003), which will see the vehicle gain over 2300 redesigned parts along with some new technology such as ABS Plus, Front Scan and Side Scan. ETA on these vehicles is midyear.
“I can’t say that the V6 TDI is smoother or even quieter than the V6 petrol Touareg, but its damn close. When you factor in the huge torque advantage, coupled with superior fuel economy and the same price tag, my money is firmly on the TDI”.
Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI Quick Spin Reference Guide
- RECOMMENDED RETAIL: $74,990
- VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front engine, 4Motion, 5 Passenger, 5-door medium/large SUV
- ENGINE: 3.0 litre V6, Common rail turbo diesel
- TRANSMISSION: 4XMotion four-wheel-drive with 6 speed Tiptronic with Dynamic Shift Program
- MAXIMUM POWER: 165kW @ 4000rpm
- MAXIMUM TORQUE: 500 @ 1500-1800
- 0-100km/h: 9.9
- MAX SPEED: 205km/h
- TARE WEIGHT: (with 10 litres of fuel) 2345 kg
- WHEELBASE: 2855mm
- LENGTH: 4754mm
- HEIGHT: 1726mm
- LUGGAGE CAPACITY: (with rear seats upright) 982 litres
- TURNING CIRCLE: 11.6m
- FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 100 litres
- FUEL ECONOMY COMBINED HWY/CITY: 10.9 litres/100kms
- SAFETY: (passive) Curtain airbags, front and rear, Door side impact protection, front guards are made from impact absorbing polycarbonate, rigid safety cell with rear crumple zones
- SAFETY: (active) ABS, (ASR) Anti-Slip Regulation, (ESP) Electronic Stabilisation Program, (EBC) Engine Breaking Control, Hill Decent Assistance, Hill Holding Assistance
- 4XMOTION: Permanent four-wheel-drive, Low range transfer case, Electronic differential lock.