Volkswagen Touareg set to impress NZ's boatie tribe
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The latest update of Volkswagen's mid-sized SUV has great appeal on and off road, writes Liz Dobson
For many Kiwi boaties, the European vehicle of choice when it comes to towing is Volkswagen's mid-sized SUV, the Touareg.
With a 3500kg towing capacity and a wade depth of 580mm (all the better for helping you reverse down the boat ramp), the four-wheel-drive has been popular in New Zealand since its international launch in 2003.
It's also a Kiwi favourite thanks to that Volkswagen badge - it's an unpretentious vehicle that provides European specs and styling ... without you looking like a tosser on the boat ramp.
The vehicle was named after the Tuareg people, a North African tribe, and was originally designed as a joint venture between VW, Audi and Porsche.
The resulting VW Group PL71 platform was shared by the Touareg, Audi's Q7 and Porsche's Cayenne.
That first-generation Touareg was a huge success for Volkswagen, selling half a million models.
The second-generation Touareg was revealed at the 2010 Beijing motor show, and introduced such features as world-first glare-free high beam. Its international launch campaign was tied into The Bourne Ultimatum movie premiere.
The updated Touareg was unveiled at the 2014 Beijing motor show, and was launched in Europe just before Christmas.
Auckland | Hobsonville
$153.11 p/w $612.43 p/m
And now a 2015 "refreshed" (don't call it a facelift) version is about to go on sale in New Zealand.
Volkswagen New Zealand sold between 180 and 190 of the Touareg last year, the number low because of supply constraints from Germany.
This year, VW NZ expects to sell between 240 and 250 of the revamped SUV - and hopefully this time the factory can keep up with demand.
Visually the revamped Touareg looks different from the 2010 model, starting with a redesigned VW badge, a new grille with four chrome ribs, new front fog lights and a chrome accent on the lower bumper.
But it's the bi-xenon headlights with the u-shaped daytime running lights that give it great road appeal, and the rear also gets a modified bumper plus new exhaust blinds.
Inside, the revamped Touareg gets keyless entry and premium gear-shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Following the award-winning VW Golf (and revamped VW Polo), the Touareg gets a new 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system.
Three models are available in New Zealand, starting with the entry-level 3-litre, V6 turbo diesel 150kW Touareg priced at $89,900 (a $200 increase).
It sits on 18in alloys and gains the standard features of keyless entry and paddles.
The 180kW version of the 3-litre diesel starts at $104,900 (a $3100 saving over the previous model) and has 19in alloys plus memory package driver's seat, alongside keyless entry and paddles.
But it will be the big player of the three - the 4-litre, V8, 250kW diesel Touareg - that boaties will be itching to hitch their craft to.
Priced from $135,900 (a $3600 saving), the V8 gets as standard 20in alloys, the flash R-Line exterior and interior packages, plus the vaulted lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. VW's permanent four-wheel-drive 4Motion is standard across all three models, giving it great grip across all surfaces.
Driven tested the entry-level 150kW V6 before its launch to the New Zealand motoring media.
Though the styling may be conservative compared with the segment-dominating Hyundai Santa Fe or cheaper Japanese brands, it's more than capable on-road.
The diesel engine proved economical in city driving, though we couldn't improve on the combined fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100km, and on busy suburban roads the ride quality was solid.
But it's driving on off-road conditions, such as the sand tracks used in Driven's photo shoot pictured here, that the Touareg comes to the fore.
It held the wet sand with ease and manoeuvred at pace through the forest track. Add a boat to the back and you'll be sorted for the weekend.
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