[Review] Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI

I’ve always categorised cars into two different types: those that can get you from point A to point B, and those that you could really have fun with. While most would prefer to go along with the former, I happen to be among the group who prefers a little more adventure.

And that’s exactly what the new Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 3.0 V6 TDI gave me.

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The third in Volkswagen’s R-Line series, the new Touareg R-Line offered plenty of adrenaline rushes, bouts of off-road anticipation, and of course, not forgetting windows of effortless cruising amid all the power beneath the hood.

For those following the milestones in automobile development, you would remember the Touareg’s predecessor setting a record by towing a decommissioned Boeing 747 for close to 150 metres, an excellent demonstration of its massive torque and ability.

But no, I did not tow any planes this time round.

Exterior

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One glance from the outside and you’ll notice the added lip bumper of the R-Line edition of this monster. The Touareg, by itself, towers above the average human at 1.7 metres. By means of it’s dominating height and bulk, it packs on an additional muscular punch with the R-Line kit, which includes the above impressive front lip with black inserts, oval diffuser pipes at the rear, and a set of impressive 20” Tarragona rims to liven up its look.

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Talk about a car this class (and size) and you’ll not be worried about the lack of features. Apart from the R-Line kit, this Touareg comes standard with a panoramic tilt/slide sunroof, which pretty much allowed the wife to enjoy the night sky during long drives. A joy to have, especially for little kids who are always awed by the moving skies instead of tail lights on the roads.

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Given the height of this off-roader, you would expect loading luggages into the boot compartment to be a hassle. However, Volkswagen has eliminated this problem by introducing two features.

To prevent unsightly scratches (especially for the very particular car owner), the Touareg R-Line comes with trunk sill protection. This stainless steel piece saves a little heartache every time you struggle to heave your luggage up.

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For those who fusses over the height, suspension adjustment allows you to lower the rear of the car for ease of loading and unloading things. And of course, what’s a top-of-range class car without an automatic opening/closing system for the boot lit?

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Visibility on the roads ain’t an issue with the Touareg R-Line, with it’s Bi-xenon headlamps for both the low and the high beams. A signature touch to the car comes from the LED daytime-running lights, one which would allow any familiar eyes to identify this giant as a Volks from a mile away.

However, Bi-xenon headlamps, as much as they look good, has that side effect on other drivers, especially when you’re talking about an SUV. Height coming into play here, off-roaders or high-suspension cars such as the Touareg or the Audi Q7 occasionally causes unnecessary glare to the drivers in front of them. It isn’t that much of a glare to note, but is probably something that always pops up on my rear view mirror every time a Bi-xenon equipped high SUV pulls up behind my 4-door.

Interior

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But as much as the Touareg looks menacingly high from the outside, you feel right at home when you climb on board. I felt comfortable and at ease, even though I might not be the most “sizeable” driver to fit a car like the Touareg.

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Piano black trims make up for what seems to be lacking on the exterior, and the Touareg’s interior now adopts a more sleek look, packed with luxury technologies that include Dynaudio Confidence sound system with 10 speakers for the sound buffs.

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Much of the features you can find on the Touareg R-Line come pretty standard on any high-end Volkswagen, such as the RNS-850 navigation infotainment system that comes complete with satellite navigation and 60GB of hard disk drive on an 8” touch screen display.

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While the Touareg R-Line comes standard with a start-stop button and auto-hold system (to ease your legs stepping on the brakes), it doesn’t come with Park Assist (or automatic parking in layman’s terms). I guess with a car this size, it doesn’t make very much sense to install this feature.

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And on the topic of parking the Touareg given its sheer presence and size, I initially thought I’ll face much difficulties trying to get this straight into the lot. However, it is to my delight, rather easy to maneuver and park this 4.8 metres long off-roader. With cameras mounted on all sides, the RNS-850 provides you with a top-down 360 degree view of the car, ensuring you’re well-fitted into the parking lot before you cut the engine.

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While you may feel comfortable in the front, the Touareg only sits two comfortably at the rear. Three’s possible though, provided you don’t mind the center tunnel that sticks out from the front gearbox.

And just for the record – if you’re not picky, I managed to ferry four grown adults at the rear on a recent family trip, without much complains about space constraints.

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Of course, I’ll not say much more about the boot – the picture shows you how much space you can find at the rear of this SUV. Probably can fit a grown adult (and more).

Air conditioning at the rear allows passenger to control their own temperature settings and fan speed.

Air conditioning at the rear allows passenger to control their own temperature settings and fan speed.

The Drive

Photo courtesy of Ascarz.com

Photo courtesy of Ascarz.com

With a 3 litre V6 diesel under the hood, the Touareg delivers nothing but power at the slightest blip of the pedal. You’d expect less responsiveness on a diesel, but you’ll again be pleased to note that the 550 Nm of torque changes your perception almost immediately after your first run in this 2.1 tonne SUV.

And the fact that the torque curve starts its exponential climb from 1,750 rpm is just amazing. You could accelerate with ease and even overtake effortlessly at any point in time, without having to floor the pedal like you would have to on any low-torque sedan.

One of the distinct differences between a diesel and a petrol plant would be perhaps the fuel economy of the car. The 100 litre tank allows for close to 1,000 km on the diesel, clocking up to 7.2 litres per 100 km, whereas its 3.6 litre petrol sibling puts out slightly below 10 litres per 100 km.

Coming back to my initial point about the Touareg giving me adventures, this is perhaps the highlight of the car. The “Sports” damper mode didn’t disappoint, allowing me to take corners at relatively high speeds and still be planted to the ground.

And if you’re looking for some off-road fun, the Touareg R-Line gives just the right technology to play with. While its normal drive could smoothen out even the most vicious humps in car parks, the off-road ability opened me to yet another dimension of driving.

The Touareg ain’t my first SUV, but it gave me my first off-road experience, and a memorable one. At the switch of a knob, the Touareg R-Line allows for heightened suspension to take bumps and uneven terrains.

Conclusion

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While there are many good points about the Touareg that would seriously entice me to consider one, the hefty price tag proves to be much of a deterrent for the Singapore market.

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Standing at $314,800 for the 3.0 V6 TDI and $324,800 for the 3.6 V6 petrol variant, this full-fledged SUV delivers more than an adventure that any driver could ask for, and more practically, much compartment space you could ever find on any SUV.

While I had to deal with screams from the rear seats when trying out a grassy terrain (which so ironically was labelled the Slope of Death by my passengers), I felt confident and safe that the Touareg would handle exactly how I wanted it to.

And I’m glad it did.

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What I like:

  • Mind blowing torque ranging from as low as 1,750 rpm
  • Fierce and muscular body built that gives you nothing but road presence
  • Ginormous space

What I don’t like:

  • The hefty price tag of above $300,000

All prices and information is correct at the time of publication of this article.

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