New Touareg R-Line First Edition: it's a Vee Eight Dub
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Volkswagen Touareg V8 R-Line First Edition
- Refined and relaxed when you want it
- Fast and punchy when you want that too
- Actually quite good value for money…
- ...But still expensive for a VW
- Intimidating cockpit setup
- How do you say the name again?
There’s no “i” in Touareg, which is odd because it’s the only vowel missing. It’s a hard enough name to say, let alone spell.
It provided a moot point this week among the DRIVEN team on how exactly to say it. We even contacted Volkswagen and eventually confirmed from a mid-’00s press releases that the name was based on a nomadic tribe in the Sahara, and though spelt differently, the vehicle is phonetically pronounced Twa-reg.
So now we have that monkey off our back, let’s talk about the first-generation Audi Q7.
Read more: VW unveils the Touareg R PHEV
Why an Audi, when we’re profiling the biggest, baddest Touareg to ever be released: the V8 TDI R-Line ($141,990-$149,990)? Especially given this specific model of Q7 no longer exists. Bear with me.
Remember the Audi Q7 V12 diesel? It sold between 2008-2012 and made a ludicrous amount of torque. The engine was inspired by Audi’s Le Mans-24 Hour-winning racecar. Those victories always blew my mind. I’m well aware diesel engines are synonymous for fuel efficiency, but to win at Le Mans you have to bridge the gap between frugal and fast.
The reason I bring this up is that a gentleman I knew bought one of these Q7 V12s. They were ridiculously expensive at the time, out of reach for nearly anyone, even the rich. He wasn’t just rich - he owned a supermarket.
The best part is that he loaned it to me. Until then, a diesel engine was never something I desired, but the V12 Audi changed that for me. The 1000Nm was so brutal, it was like being compressed into your chair, forcing an audible whimper.
And this is relevant because the new Volkswagen Touareg V8 is equally impressive… except you don’t need to own a supermarket to buy one. The new VW V8 produces 900Nm (just 10 percent shy of that famed V12 Audi), along with 310kW. Its propulsion mimics the feeling of catching a wave, while wearing earplugs.
Normally I would argue having a silent V8 without just the slightest, distant rumble – remember, the signature of the V8 - would be a wasted opportunity. But somehow the silence and refinement fits perfectly, and the way it makes its power. You press on the throttle and the turbos wind up effortlessly, surging you forward like you have been scooped up by an incoming swell. The wave crests and you slide effortlessly down the face. It’s silent. It’s effortless. And it’s fast! Sorry, FAST!
Keeping in mind the kerb weight of over 2000kg, its 0-100km/h time is 4.9 seconds. And this from “just” a 4.0-litre engine, a far cry from the 6.0-litres of that V12. It’s even more than the previous Touareg hero, the 2007-2010 R50, which offered a massive 850Nm from its 5.0-litre V10. And this Touareg 4.0-litre V8 top-trumps them all, in overall abilities, performance and economy.
It’s a desirable diesel. In fact is more than that, it’s one of best engines around.
This particular Twar-reg I had was the R-Line First Edition version: it’s subtle, the only indicator being a small V8 badge on each front door. I like that. It’s not the obnoxious guy at the party who tells you how much money he’s making: it’s the quiet guy in the corner who has no debt, a house, job and happy family with nothing to prove.
In saying that, this First Edition model has some tricks: massaging seats for one. Right now I’m sure, like me, you don’t need massaging seats. Why would I need a gentle rub in the car? But you do. In the past I also thought I didn’t need a foot sensor for the electric boot, or even the automatic park brake. But they are brilliant. They make life easier. Now I can add massaging seats to the list.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or the chance of my partner rubbing my back is slim to none, but boy, did I enjoy the massaging seats. They knead your back in the position of choice for nine whole minutes… which is significantly longer than any massage from my wife.
Not to mention, the seats are ventilated. In winter, they toast and roast. In summer, they’re a cool breeze on your backside. Once again a level of luxury I would struggle to replicate at home.
Imagine asking for that! “Babe, could you please give my back a Shiatsu massage for nine minutes while blowing a gentle warm breeze on my bottom?” I suspect she would scowl at me with disdain and pack her bags.
The new digital dash layout is stunning. It does take a while to get familiar with and work out how you want it customised. But then, it’s brilliant, like a widescreen, LCD plasma curved, and customiseable cluster of tailored information. I’m sure there’s an acronym better than WLCDPCCCOTI.
Did you see Elon Musk’s recent Falcon 9 rocket launch to the space station? The astronauts were sitting in front of monitors and touchscreens, devoid of the Space Shuttle’s myriad of dials and levers. I thought to myself, this is what a rocket cockpit looks like now – and it’s the same feeling in the Touareg.
The price point is $149,990, so it’s still a chunk of change. But as the hero in the Touareg and VW range it also represents value for money; this is a car I would buy, and the perfect family vehicle for all occasions. Whopping torque numbers to effortlessly move up to 3.5 tonne of leisure craft to Whangamata, while giving you a massage along the way. And like any good TV steak knife deal, all this for just 9.9l/100km.
While “i” is missing from Touareg, I’m thinking about adding one in there. I think it’s the perfect SUV for my life, and it might be the ideal excuse to upgrade our Tiguan.
VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG TDI V8 R-LINE FIRST EDITION
PRICE RANGE: $141,990-$149,990
ENGINE: 4.0-litre turbo diesel V8
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, AWD