New Touareg makes an

impact

Volkswagen Touareg, front
Volkswagen Touareg, front
Volkswagen Touareg, side
Volkswagen Touareg, rear
Volkswagen Touareg, rear
Volkswagen Touareg, rear
Volkswagen Touareg, boot
Volkswagen Touareg, interior
Volkswagen Touareg, interior
Volkswagen Touareg, front

IT'S all too easy to get set in your ways and launch generation after generation of an established car without making any major steps forward.

But one car manufacturer determined to make an impact with its latest model is Volkswagen.

That's because they have just introduced the all-new third generation Touareg and it's bigger and better than the outgoing model in every way.

It boasts a more dynamic appearance and is packed to bursting with the latest on-board technology all delivered in a beautiful interface that is easily customised.

The new Touareg, which is priced from £48,995 to £55,595, is available in three trim levels called SEL, R-Line and R-Line Tech and, at launch, all models are powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine with either 231ps or 286ps.

These powertrains are mated to an eight-speed gearbox. A petrol engine will be introduced a little later and a hybrid model will be trialed in China.

From a styling point of view, the new Touareg has come a long way from the original model launched back in 2003.

The latest vehicle is 77mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm lower than its predecessor giving it a more dynamic and imposing presence on the road.

Other design highlights include a distinctive grille housing the VW badge that sweeps into the headlight clusters, chunky alloys, ultra-bright LED Matrix lights that work in tandem with a camera to detect what's happening ahead and even a night vision system that uses infrared beams to scan the road searching for thermal radiation and projecting an image onto the screen.

The headline-grabbing upgrades though are to be found within the car with VW's new Innovision Cockpit. This features a 12-inch instrument panel that flows effortlessly into a 15-inch touchscreen behind a glass screen that is angled towards the driver.

These screens can be personalised according to taste and can display the likes of maps, night vision images, favourite apps, photos, phone contacts and a whole lot more.

This smart-looking and easy-to-operate system replaces almost all the controls, buttons and switches on the outgoing Touareg and gives the car a fresh, clutter-free and ultra-modern appearance.

The car has a luxurious feel to it with fine leather upholstery, massaging seats, high quality trimmings, a premium sound system and full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto which works effortlessly alongside the Innovation Cockpit.

The Touareg is VW's flagship SUV and the latest car maintains that prestigious position - there is ample space inside for five adults to sit comfortably and the boot capacity has increased slightly thanks to the newly increased dimensions.

With the rear seats in an upright position the capacity is a generous 810 litres. Drop the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats and the boot can swallow a mighty 1,800 litres. However, those looking for seven-seat versatility will need to look elsewhere.

We tried the R-Line Tech model powered by the 3.0-litre V6 TDI 286ps engine priced at £58,195. A number of optional extras such as a head-up display, Drivers Assistance Pack, 21-inch alloys, air suspension, the IQ LED Matrix lighting system, ambient lighting with 30 colours and a panoramic sunroof resulted in the final price-tag rising to £72,975.

Despite its larger-than-life dimensions, the Touareg is a powerhouse of a vehicle and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, maxing out at 146mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 42.8mpg with carbon emissions of 173g/km.

I have to say for such a large car (more than 4.8 metres in length) it handles incredibly well.

There is all the brute force necessary from the V6 engines when quick bursts of acceleration are required and the road-holding is outstanding.

The vehicle features all-wheel steering which makes light work of cornering on country lanes and this also increases the driving stability so you can drive more dynamically with increased agility.

And talking of agility, the Touareg has almost the same turning lock as a Golf which, with the aid of the park assist system, makes manoeuvring into tight spaces a complete doddle.

High-sided SUVs often suffer with body roll when pushed into long sweeping bends, but the Touareg boasts a highly-effective air suspension system which keeps the car in check.

On motorways and dual carriageways, reaching and maintaining the national speed limit is effortless and the cabin remains beautifully refined with barely a sound from the road or engine filtering through.

Drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual, Off-Road and Snow alter the way the car handles and the steering wheel mounted paddles are there for when you fancy taking extra control.

Safety features on the new Touareg are also comprehensive and the new car has a five star NCAP rating.

Features include adaptive cruise control, intersection assist to help navigate blind exits, park assist and traffic jam assist. There is also an emergency assist system that detects if the driver is no longer controlling the car. It alerts the driver and if they ignore the warning, it activates the hazard lights and begins to brake the vehicle whilst monitoring following traffic to avoid a shunt.

And all Touareg models boast 4MOTION four-wheel drive. So with a wading limit of 500mm or 580mm if fitted with air suspension, the Touareg is definitely a go-anywhere model that will keep you on the road in more testing driving conditions.

All in all, the latest VW Touareg is the complete package. It looks fabulous, drives beautifully, it's practical, packed with all the latest technology and it's a safe and sound vehicle too. Little wonder it has clocked up more than a million sales globally.

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