Having covered a lot of miles in VW Touaregs, from the original 172bhp five cylinder 2.5l TDI to the mighty 308bhp 5l V10 diesel, and even that rara avis, the silken 4.2l V8 petrol, it was the 237bhp 3l V6 diesel, introduced in 2004, that was my favourite.

The combination of smooth power, shedloads of torque and reasonable economy made it by far the best choice, as its subsequent popularity bore out.

For its new second-generation Touareg range, Volkswagen has introduced a 3l V6 petrol/electric hybrid version but rationalised the choice of engines and transmissions for the conventionally powered Touaregs, with only two diesels ? the 3l TDI V6, or a 4.2l TDI V8, which is alleged to be indecently quick.

Both are mated to eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearboxes with 4Motion permanent four-wheel drive, limited slip differentials and electronic diff-locks on all four wheels.

The new Touareg is 200kg lighter than its predecessor, thus improving the power-to-weight ratio of the 3l V6 TDI, which continues to develop 237bhp at 4,000rpm and a stonking 406lb/ft at 2,000rpm, but with markedly better fuel economy and lower emissions.

VW claims a combined cycle of 38.1mpg and 195g/km COΠ.

I couldn?t check the test car?s precise thirst, but it appeared to return about 34mpg against my former average in a 2006 3l V6 TDI of 28mpg.

At £1.23 a litre, that saves about £420 a year over 12,000 miles.

With a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds, the new 3l V6 TDI Touareg feels quicker and more agile, and for a big 4×4 SUV, it handles superbly through fast-twisting curves.

There is little body roll, and the hard suspension irons out bumps and potholes well enough.

On the motorway, the Touareg is a quiet cruiser, with ample power to accelerate quickly.

Off road, a rotary knob engages the diff-locks and hill-descent control, but the Touareg SE does not have a low-ratio transfer box.

This is really only necessary for more serious off-roading and VW caters for that with the Escape variant at £39,505.

Even without low ratio, the fully laden SE, on 18in alloys and Pirelli Scorpions, made light work of a local shoot.

Traction on wet grass was impressive, but I would put on a decent set of all-terrain tyres to improve braking and directional control, especially if towing.

The new Touareg is crisply styled in the current VW image and looks good. Like all VWs, it speaks of quality inside and out.

The front seats are comfortable yet typically firm; the rear ones I rate at only six out of 10.

Luggage room is a useful 580l with rear seats up, or 1,642l flat. Despite all this space, the boot is still too narrow to take sleeved guns straight across because the space between the rear wheel arches and the tailgate is taken up by useless cubby holes.

Instrumentation is crystal clear, controls are easy to reach and operate, the satnav is now a must-have and the on-screen display helps with tight parking manoeuvres.

As for the start/stop function, I?m not a fan.

Mercifully, you can override it.

A final hurrah – the new Touareg no longer obliterates the driver?s vision when driving through large puddles!

Volkswagen Touareg car review

This Touareg is a real improvement on the old model and in the large 4×4 SUV category, it stacks up well as a shooting car.

It is well engineered and built, offers impressive fuel economy and at £38,255 for the entry level 3l V6 TDI, it seems fair value.

The Escape version is a modest £1,250 extra. The 3l petrol/electric hybrid and 4.2l V8 TDI versions are £54,995 and £56,530 respectively.