The third generation of this German off-roader in hot-hatch clothing is capable of conquering anything that Ed Coles can throw at it, as he reports in Shooting Times
As the sleek Volkswagen Touareg pulled up, I thought: “This looks like a proper big-boy motor.” We’re taking a look at Volkswagen’s Black Edition, a three-litre TDI V6, and I’m hopeful this third-generation model will tick a few boxes.
If the 21in Suzuka wheels weren’t a giveaway, the Black Edition is the sporty iteration of the Volkswagen Touareg. In layman’s terms, it’s the R-line version with a few bits painted black, plus a few extra goodies.
The grille, wheels, mirror covers, door and roof trims have had an added splash of stealthy black paint. The vehicle also comes with a panoramic roof and fancy IQ LED headlights, plus some sexy optional extras that I’ll come back to shortly.
It’s a bit of a wide load, so wouldn’t look out of place on one of those ‘cruises’ to Southend, but it does look rather smart from all angles. The bumpers, contoured bonnet and grilles have got beefier, while the lights have got smaller, yet intensified in retina-melting abilities.
Under the bonnet lies VW’s three-litre TDI V6 diesel engine, which stables an impressive 286 horses and 600Nm of torque. It’s proper poky, in other words. When engaging a heavy right foot, the Touareg canters to 62mph in 6.1 seconds and rattling through the eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox reaches a top speed of 148mph. There are four settings for the engine — Normal, Sport, Eco and Comfort — all self-explanatory.
Time to do some feed-bag yoga and have a look underneath. Assuming the ‘creaking keeper’ pose, there’s a lot of plastic and a few glimpses of the optional independent air suspension. Switching from the lowest sport setting to off-road pumps the suspension up to give us a not-so-sporty ground clearance of 215mm and a wading depth of 500mm. That should be enough clearance for most. It has electronic shock absorption control, again with four settings: Normal, Comfort, Off-road and Special off-road mode.
Nice and wide
The centre diff lock with asymmetric dynamic torque distribution acts as the transfer box, giving a maximum of 70% drive to the front wheels and up to 80% to the rear wheels. There’s a further four settings for the road: On-road, Off-road, Off-road individual and Snow.
There’s a decent amount of boot space; up to nine full bags of wheat, by my reckoning, and you can easily double that with the seats down. It’s nice and wide, and there’s plenty of room spare for a couple of gundogs and kit.
The interior is definitely too high-end for a muddy spaniel to ride shotgun. It’s very spacious and comfortable, and the combination of black leather, chrome, digital screens and neon cocktail bar lighting is impressive, yet familiar. It’s essentially the same dash from its upmarket cousin, the Audi Q series, and that’s not a bad thing. The optional leather climate seats are sporty yet comfortable.
There are a lot of buttons and gadgets to play with. Most of the toys operate from the central screen, which bursts into life even before you touch it. The usual gadgets and entertainment are included: DAB, satnav, phone and web connectivity, plus a million other app-based features.
The usual driving and safety aids are present including an optional thermal camera. I can confirm it works for pedestrian and animal detection. It’s not a Pulsar unit, but it does come in handy over short distances.
The Volkswagen Touareg handles country lanes well but, being wide, the onboard safety flashes and warns me of my surroundings a lot. In Normal or Eco mode, it feels very precise for its two-tonne weight and glides over rippled roads. The big V6 performs smoothly at low speeds around town, while the cameras and four-wheel steering make parking easy.
With Sport mode set for the suspension, gearbox and engine, you can feel everything tighten and liven up. For a second, you forget you’re driving an SUV. On the motorway, it comes into its own, effortlessly cruising.
The fun starts when you put your foot down. This Touareg is an absolute weapon of mass fixed-penalty notices. It doesn’t take the eight-speed auto long to reach 80mph, with plenty still to give.
Its performance on-road didn’t surprise me. Switching every conceivable setting to off-road mode, it’s time to do my rounds. To my relief, the sodden grass ride was left relatively unscathed by the Touareg spinning and wiggling across it.
The active steering was superb in negotiating through the wood and the air suspension performed well over the deep ruts and potholes I’ve yet to fill in. The combination of fancy diff, Jedi-level electronics and surface area of the tyres means that the Volkswagen Touareg can handle everything and go pretty much anywhere.
A standard black edition starts at £61,540. It’s not cheap, but it’s a lot of vehicle and the quality and performance is spot on. It’s more than capable of dealing with family life and impresses doing a bit of country life. The extras on this Touareg include leather climate seats and interior, night-vision kit, driver assistance plus, paint colour, air suspension and active four-wheel steering, tow bar and upgraded stereo. All that gives us a whopping total of £71,510. Expensive, but if it was an Audi, it would likely be £30,000 more.
Need to know about the Volkwagen Touareg
- Manufacturer Volkswagen
- Model Touareg Black Edition
- Top speed 148mph
- Max power 286bhp, 600Nm of torque
- 0-62mph 6.1 seconds
- Emissions CO2 219g/km
- Fuel economy (mpg) Low 23.6, Medium 33.3 ,High 40.7, Extra high 34.6, Combined 33.8
- Towing weight, braked 3,500kg