Volkswagen Touareg TDI 3.0 – 6-pot wonder in a tank

When we first tried out the previous generation Volkswagen Touareg, we were impressed by how much adrenaline it offered. It was easily one of the more comfortable yet powerful SUVs available in the market.

But you see, facelifts weren’t exactly known to introduce much excitement from the original model – that was why we were quite apprehensive when the new Touareg was announced and launched earlier this year.

But Volkswagen’s makeover of their new road-crusher didn’t disappoint – it was surprisingly smooth, powerful, and perhaps even more comfortable than its predecessor.

Wow.

It looks almost the same, no?

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Yes, you’re right. Partially. Well, after all, there’s so much aesthetical changes that you can make to a SUV, no?

Boasting a sharper look especially on its frontal and rear facades, the new Touareg smiles at you with a new radiator grille design. Instead of two chrome slats on the old Touareg, you now get four, and planted right in the middle is the Volkswagen emblem (apparently in 3D design).

The headlamps look sleeker too, we felt. Volkswagen’s bi-xenon still manages to illuminate the darkest of roads (literally), and is particularly useful with the dynamic cornering lights. Pretty useful if you headed off-road at night, which we daringly tried.

Gone is the bulky rear of the old Touareg! The bum of the new Touareg now looks sleeker with a clearer shaped bumper, and the inclusion of a diffuser makes it look sportier – more befitting of an off-roader rather than the more luxurious look some SUVs sport.

But it’s still as squarish and boxy as ever inside!

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Unfortunately, that holds true for the new Touareg. It doesn’t deviate much from its predecessor when it comes to interior designing – the flat and almost 90-degree panel segments between the gear stick and the infotainment system adds on to the squarish feel it brings across to anyone sliding in.

But if you observe in detail, you’d realise that elegance is boosted one step higher in this new cabin. For example, Volkswagen now offers re-designed high end aluminium rotary knobs for their controls. Turning it really felt good, much better than the ones on perhaps the ML we drove earlier.

For the ambient lighting fans, red doesn’t necessarily mean sporty. The illumination of the controls now glows white, together with the ambient lighting at the doors, footwells, and roof console. We loved it – it felt much more luxurious, yet felt as sporty as ever. And you don’t get the urge to press the pedal so often now that you’re not surrounded with red-lighted gadgets boosting your anger/impatience meter.

Unlike its predecessor, the new Touareg now sits three comfortably at the rear. You’d find it a little bumpy at the rear, but we consider it an improvement over the ride quality of the older giant.

Is it still as powerful as before?

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You bet it is. We were actually amazed at its pick up and handling ability despite its towering size over most other SUVs on the road, less your X6 or Hummer that is.

Under the hood lies the V6 plant churning out 245 horses and a whopping 550 Nm of torque. The specifics usually won’t matter to any ordinary buyer, but we thought it might be useful to highlight that it propelled us to the century mark in just 7.8 seconds (0.2 slower than on paper).

Similar to most cars in its Volks family line, the torque curve of the Touareg was amazingly exponential – overtaking was really an easy feat, and its permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive system ensures that you stay planted to the ground most of the time, even when taking the hardest of corners.

A notable feature of this new Touareg is the introduction of the coasting feature – which helped us to significantly reduce our fuel consumption when you take your foot off the pedal while cruising. It does this by disconnecting the engine from the drivetrain when there’s no throttle depression, hence saving on the amount of fuel burnt.

The new Touareg serves as an improvement over its predecessor in terms of ride quality too. The ride now feels stiffer, the way SUVs should ride. However, a word of caution – while it may be significantly improved, the ride quality at the rear still felt a little too light for us. It definitely won’t affect a short urban zoom, but it perhaps isn’t the right place to be for the car-sickness-prone passenger if you embark on long drives.

So how does this fare in comparison to perhaps say, the ML or the X5?

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The Volkswagen Touareg has come a long way since its introduction in 2002. It has improved significantly in terms of design, handling, as well as performance and pure power.

It being a Volkswagen, we dare say it proved to be a little more fuel efficient compared to its continental competitors – but of course, with a permanent four-wheel drive system, you really shouldn’t be too concerned about the fuel efficiency numbers over the performance you get.

While we felt that the Volks still does not match up to the driveability of the X5, it delivers more than what the Mercedes-Benz M-Class could offer in terms of ride comfort.

So would you buy this?

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Honestly, we would!

The Touareg not a very famous car on the road – let’s face it. People would hear of an X5 or an M-Class, but this Volks unfortunately doesn’t spread its word wide enough for a better appreciation of this wonder.

But nevertheless, considering the availability of new gadgets and features, coupled with the seamless transmission and the premium luxury and performance you get – we dare say this is one of the best premium SUVs you can get at this price range.

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