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VW Touareg: Test Drive Review

Date: 23 March 2010   |   Author: Guy Bird

Category: Large 4x4
P11D price: £41,000 (est.)
Key rival: Jeep Grand Cherokee

200kg is a lot of weight to lose. Imagine kicking two very robust 15-stone six-footers out of the backseat of your car and you'll get a rough idea.

It's also the considerable figure the new Touareg has lost over its predecessor through reductions in body, powertrain and in thinner, lighter but more efficient sound-deadening materials. This figure equates to some 10% of the Touareg's total new weight despite the new version being longer by 40mm and with a stretched wheelbase to improve rear legroom. Weight Watchers would be proud.

The benefits to economy and emissions - and, of course, tax - are tangible, improved by 25% in some cases, assisted by new technology including stop-start across the range. This allows the 240hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel TDI - predicted to be far and away the best-seller with 97% of sales - to rise up to 38.1mpg while CO2 drops to 195g/km and a more manageable-for-class 33% benefit-in-kind tax band.

From circa £35,000 (exact prices will be announced nearer to its June on-sale date) this engine makes the most sense from a cost of ownership standpoint, too. From launch there are two other options, a 340hp 4.2 V8 TDI and a 380hp 3.0 V6 Hybrid. The former offers fantastic performance and great handling for such a large car, but largely discounts itself for fleet due to its high estimated £56,000 price and top whack BIK tax rating (239/gkm CO2).

The 380hp Hybrid is also far from cheap with an expected £55,000 price tag. Although it, too, offers powerful performance plus a decent 34.4mpg and 193g/km CO2 figure (that fractionally betters the V6 diesel), the massive cost hike and other negatives don't make up for it. Notably the Hybrid gains 141kg on the V6 diesel while losing 87 litres of boot space due to all the extra 'eco' kit it has to lug about.

So stick with the V6 diesel Touareg and you'll have a very competent large off-roader. The V6 diesel is also the only engine to offer serious off-road add-on equipment - appropriately via the Escape trim - called 4XMOTION, activated via a Land Rover-alike terrain response-style knob.

But most fleet drivers won't need such an option. They'll just appreciate the great driving position, excellent bump-soaking ride, large car-like cornering, braking and steering and the way it easily manages that power through a slick­ new eight-speed automatic gearbox.

VW Touareg 3.0 TDI Altitude
P11D price£41,000*
Model price range£35,000-£56,000
Fuel consumption38.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 195g/km (33%)
BIK 20/40% per month£271/£541*
Service interval2yrs/20,000mls
Insurancegroup 17*
Boot space (min/max)580/1642 litres
Engine size/power2967cc/240hp
Top speed/0-62mph135mph/7.8secs
On sale June 2009