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The Touareg shares qualities with high-end cars, but can its reasonable price turn customers its way?
If you know anything about the Volkswagen Group's MLB platform, you'll know that many cars sharing it are pretty high-end. For instance, the active roll cancellation system is used in the Bentley Bentayga, and the four-wheel drive steering system is shared with a Lamborghini Urus - both quite a bit more pricey than the Volkswagen Touareg.
With a price tag far more affordable for your average buyer, at around the £50,000 mark, the Touareg is a sophisticated machine and a vast improvement on its predecessor. It also, unsurprisingly, costs around one third of what the Bentayga does. But of course you can't expect the same driving experience - the extra money does actually go somewhere in the Bentley. More than mere differentiation, the lifeless steering and duller responses are in line with the different target customer.
A gutsy performer
With 231hp, the mid-range version of the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, expected to be the biggest-seller in the UK, is unquestionably a gutsy performer, with loads of power making it perfect for quick overtakes or steady motorway cruising - even with a full luggage compartment. Platform commonalities with far more expensive cars, the Touareg is quiet, comfortable and relaxing to drive, and the new roll stabilisation system with electromechanically controlled anti-roll bars stop the car from leaning too much when going around bends.
VW claims the engine will return 42.8mpg, but you can expect to see a figure in the high-30s in normal driving conditions. It emits around 173g/km of CO2, so despite being the lower end of the range when it comes to engines, you probably would not want to go any higher. Other engine options include a 286hp 3.0-litre, while a 335hp V6 petrol will also be available at a later date. There's also a 415hp 4.0-litre V8 diesel (although the running costs are not competitive), or there's a plug-in hybrid option with 362hp.
The Touareg is equipped with four modes, including permanent all-wheel drive (known as VW's 4MOTION) mated to the eight-speed auto tiptronic gearbox, meaning it is pretty simple to drive. At first, it feels a bit big and daunting with its increased size making it wider and longer than before - but you soon get used to it and discover it is surprisingly agile. It's quick, too: Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.1 seconds, but accelerate sharply from standstill and it will take a while to wake up.
Even the entry-level SEL car we got our hands on comes packed with kit, including 19in alloys, LED headlights, stainless steel door trims and leather seats. Inside, you get a 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system. The massive central touchscreen controls most of the car's functions, and this is not ideal for the climate control, which would be better operated through good old-fashioned buttons. However, the layout of the screen is clever, and it is responsive and easy to use.
There is plenty of room for five adults inside the Touareg and the boot is colossal, offering 810 litres with the seats up or 1,800 with the seats folded down.
You get all of the safety tech you would expect, including AEB and lane-keeping assist, as well as front and rear parking sensors. The rear camera comes as an optional extra and was fitted to our test car for an additional £550, but this includes VW's sensor controlled steering aid, called park assist, which helps with parallel or bay parking. Although the interior appears quite luxurious, look a bit closer and there are some scratchy plastics around, especially on the centre console where your hands spend a lot of time.
If your fleet policy allows directors to choose large SUVs and you don't want to spend a small fortune, this VW might appeal. It appears to be better value than some of its premium badge rivals, and when you explain you're getting some of the the same pedigree as Bentley and Lamborghini, it might be an even easier sell for your drivers.
Volkswagen Touareg SEL 3.0-litre V6 TDI 4MOTION 231hp 8spd auto P11D £47,800 On sale Now Residual value 38.9% Depreciation £29,200 Fuel £8,564 Service, maintenance and repair £3,179 Cost per mile 68.2p Fuel consumption 42.8mpg CO2 (BIK band) 173g/km (35%) BIK 20/40% a month £278/£557 Boot space 810 litres Engine size/power 2,995cc/231hp
Spacious, reasonably priced, full of tech.
Numb steering, no physical climate control buttons, some scratchy plastics.