Volkswagen Touareg TDI V6S R-Line: family value
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VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG V6S R-LINE
- Premium genes obvious
- High-tech interior
- Range starts well below $100k
- No 7-seat option
- Not flashy for a premium SUV
- Prices rise quickly through the lineup
Back in 2006, two things happened, Volkswagen updated the Touareg SUV, and a legendary racing driver by the name of Ricky Bobby said the famous words: “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.
Outside of the Talladega Nights universe, this statement doesn’t hold too much value, especially when you’re referring to the crowded SUV segment that the VW’s SUV sits in. In this space, the Touareg wasn’t first, and it definitely won’t be the last; but it could be one of the best choices if you’re looking for value near the top-end.
Offered in three specification levels in New Zealand, which includes two V6 and one V8 (all diesels), the Touareg is the flagship model of Volkswagen’s SUV range.
As with a lot of models under the VW Group umbrella, it shares a platform with other, more upmarket SUVs such as the Audi Q5, and Porsche Cayenne, all the way up to the Bentley Bentayga. This is where the Touareg’s true beauty lies; but we’ll get into that a bit later.
For our time with the Touareg, we got our hands on the higher-spec V6 model, which is known as the TDI V6S R-Line. The two V6 models use the same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, and while the TDI V6 makes do with 170kW and 500Nm, these numbers are bumped up to 210kW and 600Nm in the V6S. Opting for the range-topping 4.0-litre V8 model will get you an impressive 310kW and 900Nm. Across the range, an eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels through VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
As the Touareg tips the scales at a touch over two tonnes, it’s quite a unit, but the 600Nm of torque available from the six-cylinder is more than enough to move the SUV at pace. While it’s not one of VW’s famed dual-clutch transmissions, the eight-speed automatic is extremely swift in its role, and always seems to find the power when needed.
Curiously, the higher-spec V6S is claimed to have a better fuel economy than the base model. After a 700km round trip including city and motorway kilometres, our V6S landed on an extremely impressive 7.7L/100km.
Like the majority of Volkswagen’s other vehicles, the Touareg is quite understated on the outside. However, the R-Line Black Package on our Touareg includes some nice details and 21-inch black alloy wheels.
Auckland | Greenlane
$346.79 p/w $1,387.17 p/m
Inside, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into something a lot more expensive.
Looking more like a cinema screen than an infotainment display, the Innovision Cockpit is a sight to behold. This enormous display features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster as well as the 15in touchscreen that works as a central control panel for the whole vehicle. Considering the sheer amount of information that’s housed within this system, it takes a bit of time to learn, but ends up feeling like an iPad once you’re familiar with it.
One of the very few downsides I found in this luxurious cabin was the lack of third-row seating. As other vehicles on the platform are offered as seven-seaters (like the Audi Q7), VW’s decision to keep the rear area seat-free is curious.
On the plus side, this lack of rear-seat space frees up a lot of legroom in the second row, and you’ll have no trouble fitting a couple of tall passengers back there. Along the same lines, the rear luggage area is enormous, and easily fits a 21-inch space saver beneath the floor.
I’d argue that the true selling power of the Touareg range becomes apparent when you start looking at the competition. Despite the $89,990 starting price, this German SUV is competing with other European top dogs like the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE. Along with the Audi Q5/Q7 these are the industry-leaders in the European SUV market, and it’s obvious that Volkswagen is offering the Touareg as an entry point to a segment that otherwise starts well over the $100k mark.
If we’re looking at other options around the Touareg’s $89,990 entry point, you’ve got the Ford Everest, and Toyota’s iconic Land Cruiser 200 Series, with each SUV starting around $10k either side. While these two proven SUVs offer rugged off-road ability, they don’t match the European luxury and tech-heavy nature of the Touareg.
It’s also worth noting that the Touareg R plug-in hybrid model was revealed earlier this year, and while Volkswagen hasn’t revealed when it will go on sale in New Zealand, it could be worth holding out for if you’ve got your eye on VW’s big SUV.
VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG V6S R-LINE
ENGINE: 3.0l turbo diesel
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, AWD