Driven: 2018 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI

Since its launch in 2002, Volkswagen has sold just under 6500 Touaregs in South Africa. And while it’s suffered in the sales charts against premium competition from BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover and Porsche, the Touareg has also sported understated elegance. 

With the new version Volkswagen has armed its new 4.8-metre-long SUV with an arsenal of technological features aimed at capturing the most discerning customer.  

There are only two models on offer, both powered by a 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine producing 190kW and 600Nm of torque.Sean Parker headed to the Eastern Cape to drive the new model. 

Exceptional ride quality 

With a combination of highway and gravel roads as part of our test route, my driving partner and I lauded the fit and finish of the cabin, the supreme ride quality and almost non-existent intrusion of road noise.

It’s no secret that the Touareg shares the same platform, named the modular longitudinal matrix (MLM), that underpins the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and the Bentley Bentayga. 

Volkswagen says because the new Touareg’s commanding body is built using aluminium and steel, it weighs 106kg less than its predecessor.  

GALLERY: 2018 Volkswagen Touareg

Compared to its predecessor, the new Touareg is wider (44m increase) but loses 7mm in height to measure in at 1702mm. It sports a massive 807 litre boot. 

It’s an imposing vehicle that features very Germanic-styling, and I saw some other SUV elements in the rear styling. But remember that’s completely subjective. 

Driving it 

We got to spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel of both models and the addition of four-wheel steering and the air suspension (both optional) elevated the car’s overall impression at the launch. I’d go so far as to say those two options are a must.  

I popped the rotary controller for the different modes into ‘off-road’ which raises the ride height by 25mm, there’s also a “Special terrain level” which increases it by 70mm. Despite the standard 19-inch wheels, it rides very well. 

The eight-speed automatic is best being left to its own devices, although on the top of the range Executive model paddle shifts were fitted. The 3.0-litre turbodiesel is a peach of an engine: refined, powerful and frugal.

It’ll do as good a job as any of its rivals on a family trip, especially with its massive boot, nooks and crannies for every conceivable device or bottle and tech, so much tech. 

A longer test of the vehicle on a road trip with more people and items will give a better impression of how the behemoth copes. But there’s no question it can easily traverse a journey with five-up and a load in the boot. 

Safety systems galore 

Called the Innovision Cockpit, this system is accessed via a 38cm centrally-mounted screen which also houses controls for the climate control, heated and cooled seats and of course the in-car entertainment system. You can read more in depth about all the different features here.

From my experience, it was clear and has good ergonomics.

There’s also an optional heads up display which can illustrate: current speed, speed limiter, navigation information, adaptive cruise control, lane assist and side assist depending on your needs. 

Image: Quickpic 

Ahead of the driver, this entire interface is now entirely digital too and arguably the coolest feature is the optional night vision which is part of the advanced safety package system. Basically, it uses an infrared camera that can detect a living organism and ‘light’ it up on the screen in front of the driver. Useful on both national roads or a night drive at Kruger. More about that here

There are more than enough toys to play with in the ‘base’ Luxury model, but the Executive adds even more with items like: the visually intoxicating R-Line pack details (and 20-inch wheels), IQ Matrix headlights, four-zone climate control and dynamic chassis control. 

It does the business

After two days of driving the new Touareg, I warmed to how understated the new flagship is. It’s the type of car that goes about its business without having to tweet about it.

It carries a heavy price tag, but customers playing in this market who want a capable product without the need to brag about their badge can’t go wrong with the new Touareg. 

What we like about it? 

Understated, elegant, tech-fest, strong diesel engine. Luxury model offers a lot of equipment as standard. 

What we don’t like about it? 

Styling could be considered non-descript, expensive optional extras, badge doesn’t carry same weight as other German rivals (but is that a bad thing).  


3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Luxury) - R999 800
3.0 V6 TDI 190kW (Executive) - R1 088 200

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