The new, third-generation Volkswagen Touareg arrives in Australia during the second quarter of 2019. It’ll sit atop VW’s range alongside the sleek Arteon, and like that sleek elongated hatchback is now pitched at the luxury part of the market.
There’s a hell of a lot of Audi in the new Touareg’s design, with a side profile reminiscent of the smaller Q5. There’s also a large silver grille that some will love, and which others may find a little gauche.
On each side of the grille are available matrix headlights trickled down from Audi, with 128 individually controllable LEDs allowing adaptive high-beam.
It’s certainly clean and elegant elsewhere, with perhaps the nicest view its rear end. The LED tail-lights are intricate and full of presence, while the wide-spaced letters along the tailgate are a bit of a retro throwback.
Under that body is the VW Group’s longitudinal MLB architecture, in essence the platform that underpins Audi’s Q7, plus the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne, the Bentley Bentayga and even the Lamborghini Urus. High-rolling company.
The new Touareg is 83mm longer and 44mm wider than before, though the wheelbase is only up 1mm and the roofline is actually 7mm lower. Ground clearance is up 14mm. The modular platform cuts the kerb weight by around 50kg (starts at 1995kg), though the turning circle is up by about 30cm to 12.19m.
There are a number of optional dynamic additions engineered into the new model, including rear-wheel steering (the back wheels go in the same direction at high speeds to improve stability, and the opposite way below 37km/h to reduce that turning circle) and multi-height air suspension that can jack the body by up to 70mm.
There are also Audi Q7-style electro-mechanical active roll stabilisers, or active roll bars, running off a 48V onboard electric system and reducing lateral roll and understeer.
The cabin is a massive step up over the dated old car. The standard offer is a 9.2-inch centre touchscreen with gimmicky (for now) gesture control surrounded by hard keys for the climate control, plus analogue instruments ahead of the driver flanking a portrait trip computer.
But you can option an Innovation Cockpit that gives you a massive 15.0-inch pinching/zooming/swiping touchscreen, and the familiar 12.3-inch Active Info Display configurable digital instruments that show nav, music etc. The array is technically two pieces of joined glass, and like Tesla or the Volvo XC90, most everything is handled by touch.
There’s also a head-up display that projects onto the windscreen and a wireless inductive phone charger. Other niceties available as options are 18-way adjustable heated/cooled leather seats with pneumatic side bolsters, and massaging software with eight different preset options.
You also get four USB inputs including two in the rear. The base sound system is a 80W setup with eight speakers, but you can buy a 14-speaker/16-channel and 730W system with Dolby 7.1 standard sound.
Driver assistance tech includes high-speed AEB, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, auto parking, Traffic Jam Assist, and front/rear cross-traffic assist. There’s also the Arteon’s Emergency Assist that leaps into action if you ignore prompts to touch the wheel, first by tugging the seatbelts, then by slowly coming to a stop autonomously with hazard lights on.
There’s also Predictive Pedestrian Protection, a camera and radar sensor controlled warning system to detect pedestrians on the edge of the road. The system will first alert the driver and prepare for emergency braking. If no response is detected and a collision is imminent it will automatically perform emergency braking. For the first time the system will also detect cyclists.
An optional thermal image camera (infrared) at the front of the car registers infrared radiation coming from a living organism. If this camera detects people or animals, the assistant warns the driver.
The new Touareg has more space than before, with 810L of cargo space in the rear expanding to 1800mm with the back seats folded. However, it’s 77mm narrower between the wheel housings in the rear, and the fuel tank is 10L smaller, at 75L.
One downside is the fact that, despite being about the same size as a Toyota Kluger, the Touareg remains – like the Jeep Grand Cherokee – a five-seater only. There’s a chance this has been done to give Audi a VW Group monopoly on seven seats.
The Touareg will launch with diesel engines only, all versions of the familiar 3.0-litre turbo V6. The Launch Edition model will use the Amarok’s 190kW/500Nm Euro 5 version, because it’s already been tested against our NEDC fuel cycle (as opposed to the more modern European WLTP cycle that VW now prioritises.
From late 2019 this engine will be joined by two Euro 6 versions of the same engine, making 170kW/500Nm and 210kW/600Nm respectively. All are mated with an eight-speed automatic with torque converter, and are rated to tow 3.5 tonnes as before.
A V8 TDI is expected, while a turbo petrol six is being considered. The PHEV version will probably be China-only.
It’s pretty clear the new Touareg will be pricier than before, especially once you start dipping into those options (which will be grouped into digestible packages).
The outgoing model kicks off at $74,990 for the Monochrome and costs $85,490 for the V6 TDI version. The base version of the new car will almost certainly start in the $80k range, putting it between a Grand Cherokee at one end and the BMW X5/Audi Q7/Range Rover Sport at the other.
We don’t know all pricing and spec details yet, and VW Australia is still working through the final details. Watch and wait for the launch…
DRIVEN: 2019 Volkswagen Touareg review