The new Volkswagen Touareg is a striking beast, sporting new looks and ABSplus for shorter stopping distance off-road - the 4WD's natural habitat, a fact many new 4WD manufacturers have forgotten. This isn't just a facelift, the new Touareg boasts 2,300 newly developed parts including innovative off-road braking and all-wheel drive systems.

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This latest model does away with the performance stigma many SUV's are currently aspiring to, and instead VW have bestowed it with raw power. Like the previous model, the V10 diesel variant produces a staggering 750Nm of torque at 2,000rpm, making it a highly proficient off-road vehicle, and insanely capable tow-vehicle.

So much so, that to celebrate the release of the new model, they have decided to tow about a 155 tonne Boeing 747 - again, although this time with the actual 2007 model Touareg. This feat was previously completed by Fifth Gear in November of 2006, however this was with an imitation 2007 model Touareg. I suppose it's good to know the new one can still tow a plane, you know, in case one ever breaks down on the side of the road.

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For the less adventurous, there are three other tamer options. A 3.6L V6 petrol variant which produces a very respectable 206 kW/360 Nm, an inline 5cyl turbo-diesel with 128 kW/400 Nm, and a V6 diesel with 165 kW/500 Nm.

The Touareg is shifted by a six-speed automatic gearbox. Power is transmitted to the 4XMOTION all wheel drive via a transfer case with switched extra low off road gearing. There the power is transmitted through front axle, rear axle and center differentials. The center differential has a standard lock. In the normal case, under balanced power and roadway conditions, the power distribution is 50:50. Depending on the driving situation up to 100 percent of the propulsive power may be transmitted to just one of the two axles. An Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) acting on all four wheels enables fine distribution of propulsive power.

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Comfort is not sacrificed with optional air suspension (standard on the V10 model) and double wishbone configurations at the front and rear axles with subframes for acoustic isolation guarantee the noise and comfort levels of a luxury sedan.

The new ABSplus system can reduce the braking distance on loose surfaces by up to 20 percent. This is achieved thanks to the innovative anti-slip control of ABSplus the Touareg pushes pieces of the road surface material in front of the wheels that are briefly blocking. This produces a type of braking wedge. The result: Braking force is significantly boosted – without negative effects on steerability – and braking distance is reduced accordingly.