Big in size, but also big on safety, the new Volkswagen Touareg is a gentle giant that looks out for you, but still knows how to have fun
As humans, we’ve been conditioned to want bigger things. Everything from food, to bank accounts, to human anatomical parts, bigger is always better apparently.
And so it is, with this all-new Touareg, the biggest model in Volkswagen’s line-up. Not that the previous one was a small fry to begin with, but this latest version is absolutely ginormous, having grown by some 77mm in length and 44mm in width than its (already large) predecessor. It’s probably the biggest sport utility vehicle (SUV) this side of a Hummer, and frankly, I’ve not driven an SUV this large since the Infiniti QX80 (which was basically an oil tanker on wheels).
The Touareg is so big that entire motorcycles can be obscured from your view by its chunky front end. Which is just as well that it is equipped with all sorts of safety features such as pedestrian detection with autonomous emergency braking, and plenty of cameras all round. After all, flattening a poor unsuspecting biker for being in the way just isn’t a good look, is it?
There’s more tech on the Touareg to help you avoid being a moving calamity. Blind spot monitoring with Rear Traffic Alert helps you avoid knocking into poor souls passing you on the side. And given this car’s girth, the lane assistance and lane keeping system helps you stay in line, especially since this car pretty much takes up the entire width of a lane (it’s nearly 2 metres wide).
Of course, many of these features are also available on other cars. But on the Touareg, their presence here is actually of real practical use. The parking assistance function, with their myriad of cameras, for instance, is a real godsend, because it feels nearly impossible to park this car in a standard size lot without it. And the front cross traffic detection system, available only on the top-spec R-Line model seen here, give you a useful warning if it senses any traffic ahead approaching from your side, something which you might not always catch in this car.
The R-Line spec is also the only Touareg variant locally that offers Adaptive Cruise Control, along with Traffic Jam Assist. It’s a handy feature which takes a lot of the stress out of congestion, but it does feel a little unnerving at first for the uninitiated. You do have to fully trust the system to brake for you as it pulls up to the car ahead, but once you get used to it, it is a pretty neat party trick.
There are many more R-Line special goodies that you’ll get for the $30,000 premium over the regular Touaregs, including the R-Line styling package, 21-inch wheels, and the LED matrix headlights. But perhaps the most impressive ones are the stuff under the skin, namely the height-adjustable air suspension, all wheel steering, and the Dynamic Chassis Control system.
The result of all these additions is a car that does not feel at all like the giant that it is when you indulge in some spirited driving. The Touareg feels taut and balanced as you swing through the corners. Body roll is nearly non-existent, and everything feels nicely controlled, from the light steering to the well-sorted suspension. Without noticing the dimensions of the car, it almost feels like you’re driving its smaller cousin, the Volkswagen Golf.
That said, it doesn’t mean that the Touareg behaves like a hooligan. Put your foot down and the 3.0-litre turbo V6 gently sweeps you up to triple digit speeds without drama or fuss, in a smooth, effortless manner that only big cars like these can do. It’s a good thing that there’s a head-up display to check your speed, because it’s very easy to breach the speed limit without noticing in the Touareg.
Indeed, where the Touareg shines is in comfort and refinement. The air suspension soaks up bumps like a sponge, and the car feels like a comforting hand that soothes your soul on the commute home. Perhaps literally too, given that the front seats contain massage functions that can knead your knots away.
And while the Touareg feels like a nice, easy-going car to drive and get along with, there are still constant reminders of the vastness of this car. The enormous 15-inch infotainment touchscreen has a bigger screen size than some laptops, and the massive panoramic sunroof takes a full 18 seconds for the shade to fully retract (we’ve timed it ourselves). Everything about the Touareg is literally ‘huuuge’.
However, the Touareg is also a kind, gentle soul that offers comfort and safety in spades. It doesn’t insult you with crassness and brashness, but instead wears its size with lots of class and dignity. Bigger is indeed better in this case.
Volkswagen Touareg R-Line
Engine 2,995cc, V6, turbocharged
Power 340hp at 5300-6400rpm
Torque 450Nm at 1340-5300rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 5.9 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Efficiency 9.1L/100km
VES Band / CO2 C2 / 208g/km
Agent Volkswagen Centre Singapore
Price S$321,900 with COE
Verdict: Big gentle giant of an SUV offers plenty in terms of comfort and safety tech, yet drives like a nimble little hatchback