Which VW is the pick of the bunch? Here's what our car journos would buy
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From hatchbacks to work vans and everything in between, Volkswagen has a vehicle, but out of the twelve or so that are offered in New Zealand, which one would we take home?
With icons such as the Golf and the Transporter on offer, as well as new-comers like the T-Roc and T-Cross, we're spoilt for choice. So let's get into it:
Editor, Dean Evans: Tiguan Allspace R-Line
Kudos to the Volkswagen website, which guides you through a journey for which car is best. Asking budget, lifestyle and luggage questions tailors a few suggestions, and my answes resulted in a Tiguan, Golf GTI or Tiguan Allspace. Which is quite impressive, because I was thinking Allspace before I started, and affirmation is often what a buyer is seeking.
I’m often people-moving, but want a bit of excitement and a medium amount of luggage space. So I explored the seven-seat Allspace a little further: starting at $61,490, it’s a little longer than the normal five-seat model, and another $8k buys the R-Line AWD version, which includes better looking 20-inch Suzuka alloys, 9.2-inch screen and Head-Up display.
VW’s 2.0-litre petrol turbo is a glorious engine: 162kW and 350Nm are great for traffic sprints to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds. Plenty fast to get out of – and into – trouble with the police, wife and kids. At 8.1l/100km, the eco side is still good enough, even once it creeps up a little in real world use, especially given the lure of speed underfoot.
So it satisfies my desire for a bit of excitement despite the need to cart around wife+3, and it does that component pretty well, too. Sharing the platform with the Skoda Kodiaq, the Allspace offers a decent third row: good for kids/teenagers, though with the high floor and tightish kneeroom, transit time for adults may be best kept short. Though that’s what it’s all about. We own a Sante Fe seven-seat SUV and the times we actually use the third row is diminishing, with our 8yo now our of her booster seat and able to slide in between the child seats of her siblings in the second row.
The extra space however is very much appreciated on holidays, and this is where the Allspace needs to be given thought, as there isn’t a huge amount of boot space with the rear row raised. But we can work around that configuring it as a ‘six-seat’.
The seven-speed DSG gearbox is good and though not perfect, the pairing with such a perky petrol turbo engine means it’s fine by me.
We owned a 10yo used VW Tiguan V6 just a few years ago and while its size and space was good, the fuel economy was a killer, around 14l/100km. And with its 100-litre tank, it wasn’t uncommon to see $200+ fills! The Tiguan Allspace is everything we wanted (but couldn’t afford at the time) from the Touareg, and for me, the one I’d have from Volkswagen.
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: California
I don’t get the warm fuzzies about the Volkswagen brand like some, but I did spend many of my childhood holidays travelling around in my Great Uncle Merle’s Kombis (he had many over the years). That, combined with the fact that I’m a sucker for some well-engineered retro nonsense, means the California is my pick.
I love a good van and the T6 Transporter (upon which the California is based) is brilliant to drive. Don’t forget, it has 146kW/450Nm. 4Motion AWD and a seven-speed DSG transmission. It’s really perky for a flat on wheels.
So even though it’s a campervan, you can also use the California as an actual day-to-day vehicle without too much trouble. Assuming you’re okay with only having four seats and you’re aware the single sliding door is on the wrong side for a right-hook vehicle. Which is not okay, really.
Apart from that door issue, the fact it’s a campervan created by the factory with some pride really shows in the delightful attention to detail: everything fits just-so and not a centimetre of space is wasted. And from that pop-top (shades of 1950s Westfalia) to the two-tone paintjob, it’s a heritage-style hoot. Love it beyond reason - which you’d have to because it’s $142,000.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Touareg V6S R-Line
In the DRIVEN team, Volkswagens are my thing, and while my old air-cooled Beetle is a world away from what is on offer these days, I’m yet to experience a VW that I don’t like. Because of this, choosing just one model is easier said than done, and after narrowing my picks down to the Golf R and the Touareg, I ended up going for the latter, due to the value you get from it.
This value comes from the fact that the Touareg is the cheapest way to get into Volkswagen Group’s large SUV platform that is used by other brands such as Audi, Porsche, and Bentley. Obviously, the Touareg isn’t as impressionable as these other premium European offerings, but stepping inside changes that.
Dubbed the ‘Innovision Cockpit’, this 15-inch display is one of the most striking on the market, and makes the cabin feel ahead of its time. Ambient lighting, the incredible sound system, and massage seats are the other two aspects that give the Touareg an extremely premium feel.
I have opted for the diesel V6 R-Line over the V8 model due to the $20K price hike between the two, and the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 has more than enough grunt for any application. 210kW and 600Nm of torque are the official numbers that will get the Touareg to 100km/h in a touch over six seconds. Combined fuel consumption comes in at 8.1l/100km, which isn’t game-changing but means you get a lot of range out of the 75-litre tank.
Priced from $121,990, this Touareg R-Line isn’t exactly cheap, but when you compare it to the Audi Q7 which starts from $144,990, and the Porsche Cayenne at $144,500, it becomes a lot easier to digest. Oh, and there’s also the Bentley Bentayga in the same boat, starting at $295,990 for the diesel V8.