This is an absolutely superb car, easily one of the best 4x4s Shooting Gazette has ever tested.
Volkswagen has ignored the current trend to install enough seats to transport a mini rugby team, and instead made the Touareg a nice, comfortable five-seater. Having fewer seats means there is more than adequate room inside for all your guns and kit, with plenty of storage for all the little things you’ll need on shoot day.
The rear seats split 40/60, and the glass tailgate opens separately of the boot – a great feature which allows you to just chuck things in the back without fuss. On hot days it can also provide your dogs with some valuable ventilation.
Quality and simplicity
As you would expect in any car from the VW Group, the build quality of the car and mechanical reliability are exceptional.
The Touareg has all the electronic stability systems you would expect of a modern car, but unlike other vehicles in this class they are all easily accessed and operated. Simple controls on the centre console put everything from the traction control to the satnav right at your fingertips.
Switching between high and low gear ranges, for example, is as simple as
turning a small knob next to the gear stick. As you would expect of a
car in this price bracket there are systems such as Hill Descent and
Assist to help the car maintain its composure when off-road or going up
or down steep slopes, and again these are operated with the simple push
of a button.
All Touaregs come equipped with Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system, which offers excellent grip on- and off-road. The car has air suspension with continuous damping control, giving a great, quiet ride on-road and taking out the worst of the bumps when tackling rougher stuff. This air suspension can also adjust the height of the car on demand, giving you an extra 300mm of ground clearance and a maximum wading depth of 580mm.
There is also a very clever automatic central differential that is configurable from the dashboard. When activated, this system continuously checks for loss of traction and adjusts how much power goes to the front and rear axles accordingly.
The Touareg is useful in town too, with an excellent turning circle coupled with large mirrors and parking sensors making manoeuvring simple and safe.
Difficult to criticise
There are very few problems with this car. The middle rear seat is slightly uncomfortable, and I found the car a little long – but both of these are personal criticisms which others may have no problem with.
Volkswagen are releasing a new version of the Touareg shortly, with first deliveries arriving in October, which might put you off buying now. Major changes are in external styling and also a new range of efficient engines, including a new petrol-electric hybrid model which promises 0-60mph acceleration of 6.5 second whilst returning combined fuel consumption of 34.4mpg and CO2 emissions of just 193g/km.
With prices for the new model starting at £38,225 for the base SE specification car with a 3 litre diesel engine you may want to wait before buying. However, second-hand values are almost certain to fall with the launch of the new model, and you will likely be able to get a great deal on one of the current ‘run off’ models with dealers wanting to clear their existing stocks.
Starting at just £31,635, the off-road ability and superb quality of this car makes it a viable contender for your cash. Buying one of these vehicles would not be a decision you would regret.
SPECIFICATIONS: Altitude V6 TDi
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
ALSO IN THIS MARKET
The X5 has been a hugely successful vehicle for BMW, and it is not difficult to see why. It has superb straight-line performance and excellent handling along with all the stability and traction 4×4 buyers expect and need.
With the latest model released this year, this successful trend looks set to continue. All X5s now come with leather interiors as standard, and new engines bring together superb performance with good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.
The entry level xDrive30d emits only 195g/km of CO2 yet has 245bhp, taking 7.6 seconds to reach 62mph while consuming just 38.2mpg on the combined cycle. Like the Touareg, second-hand prices are sure to see a fall with this latest model, though the car does hold its value well.
Price: from £43,980
An old workhorse now, the XC90 is an ideal choice for ferrying children in safety on the school run, but is also rather handy off-road.
It is in need of a facelife (in fact, rumours abound that one is on the way) as it looks a little out of place alongside the rest of the smart Volvo range. While it may not be the most exciting car to drive, it is very safe and will not let you down mechanically.
Having been around for so long, second-hand cars can be picked up at a reasonable price – but like many premium vehicles it has held its value well.
Price: from £31,595
FOR YOUR SECOND CAR
Lotus Exige S
Those with a love of driving cannot go wrong with a Lotus.
A famous name in British motorsport, Lotus are a small firm based in Hethel, Norfolk, with a reputation for producing the finest cars in the world to drive thanks to founder Colin Chapman’s mantra: “To go faster, add lightness.”
The Exige is the ultimate modern Lotus, utterly uncompromising in its pursuit of speed and pure driving pleasure, especially in supercharged ‘S’ guise. Tick the ‘performance pack’ option and this car is sure to bring a smile to your face.
If you want one you should get on and buy it quickly, since Lotus recently annouced they will be changing tack away from lightweight sportscars to take on the likes of Porsche, Ferarri and Aston Martin as a luxury car maker.