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Tested: VW Touareg

2011-04-05 12:23

POWERHOUSE: VW's Touareg is at home in the urban jungle as well as the bundus.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Model Touareg
Engine 4134 cc, V8 turbodiesel
Power 250kW at 4000 rpm
Torque 800Nm at 1750 – 2750 rpm
Transmission Eight-speed Tiptronic automatic
Zero To Hundred 5.8 sec
Top Speed 242 km/h
Fuel Tank 100 litre
Fuel Consumption 9.1 litre/100km (combined cycle)
Weight 2297 kg
Warranty Three year or 120 000km
Price R855 150 as tested (R776 000 standard)


With the new Touareg, Volkswagen succeeded with an interesting trick: It created something not only bigger than its predecessor but which also looks smaller and is 200kg lighter.

The new Touareg also represents a shift in focus, as only one of the three models – the three-litre V6 turbodiesel – will be available with an (optional) low-range gearbox.

The 4.2-litre V8 turbodiesel we tested is now the top dog and replaces the old range’s five-litre V10 turbodiesel. Many readers know that the Touareg shares a chassis with Porsche’s Cayenne and therefore the similarity between the Touareg and Cayenne isn’t surprising.


The test unit had a brown interior that reminded me of a gentleman’s club, especially the classy wood panels here and there. In fact, nowadays you struggle to point out the differences between the interior of an Audi and a VW. It’s spacious and opulent, without resembling the Tokyo-by-night approach often favoured by Japanese manufacturers.

The instrument panel has just the right number of dials and buttons to make you feel chuffed with your new purchase but not so many that you want to change the subject when your mate asks you “and what does this little button do?”

The touch-screen satnav is easy to use and controls the radio and sound system. The reverse camera’s view is also projected on to it. Well, actually the Touareg has four cameras – one for each side of the vehicle. On the touchscreen you can see what’s going on in places you never knew existed.

Other useful things are the four 12V sockets ias well as a cubbyhole that can be chilled by the aircon.

VW Touareg 4.2 V8 TDI 2The Touareg’s pneumatic suspension enables you to increase the ground clearance to 30 cm at the press of a button.


The 4.2-litre V8 turbodiesel is a giant killer – and that’s when you’ve only pressed the accelerator halfway in. Use it with contempt and it’s as if the gates of hell have just opened.

NOT A PLAASBAKKIE: VW's Touareg is more than capable of traversing tough terrain

A figure of 250kW doesn’t raise many eyebrows nowadays but mention the torque of 800Nm – from 1750 to 2750 rpm – and suddenly you can hear a pin drop in the bar.

The ratios of the eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox are so close that when you accelerate hard the engine stays mostly in the sweet spot.

In the “Sport” setting it will shift at even higher revs and hold gears longer when you brake during cornering, almost like a manual gearbox.

4Xmotion is what Volkswagen calls the V6 TDI Touareg’s optional low-range and diff-lock package, while the rest of the range uses the basic 4Motion system. The latter features permanent 4x4 with high-range, a Torsen diff (a type of limitedslip differential) in the middle and electronics - rather than mechanical diff locks - that control wheel spin.

The test model was equipped with optional air suspension with which you can raise it to a whopping 30cm of ground clearance.


The Touareg devours the open road like a small hotdog. Only hidden traffic cameras and the size of your bladder will inhibit you.

Get this: It beats the Porsche Cayenne S with a 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine in the 0-100km/h dash! You are therefore almost untouchable in the Grand Prix league for city traffic.

Thanks to the air suspension there’s very little body roll. Coupled to good brakes and sticky 19-inch wheels this means a surprisingly hasty sports utility vehicle. No, it isn’t a pure sports car, but it’s one helluva sporty 4x4. Best of all, its combined fuel consumption is just over 9 litres/100km.

CREATURE COMFORTS: The interior is quite spacious and sports all kinds of creature comforts

To deal with off-road situations, Volkswagen has what they call Electronic Differential Locks. But in reality the brakes are immediately applied to spinning wheels so that the wheels with traction get the necessary drive. It’s a simple system that works well and if you fitted your Touareg with Goodyear’s MT/R 19-inch off-roaders you’d be able to handle surprisingly rough off-road terrain.

Such tyres, combined with the Touareg’s brute power and high ground clearance, will make it unstoppable in sand, but over rocks, which require slow, deliberate driving, the lack of low-range will count against it.

And if you venture off-road, pack an extra tyre, as it has a collapsible spare tyre that only assumes its shape once inflated. For highway use only!

If you want low-range, buy the 3.0 V6 TDI. But you get the feeling you’d be wasting money, as few Touareg owners would want to do terrain that warrants wheels like that.
And the conclusion?

 It’s a very expensive 4x4 but a reasonably prized status symbol... We will admit that under that glitzy exterior hides a potent beast.
VW Touareg 4.2 V8 TDI 3Few luxury cars can beat this Gentleman’s Club on wheels.


    * It looks slender and brutish – like a young lion.
    * That 800Nm keeps you awake at night.
    * The interior is luxurious and stylish.


    * The standard tyres are only meant for the city.
    * It’s a lot of money!


Porsche Cayenne Diesel – R680 000; BMW X5 40d – R752 500; Mercedes-Benz ML350 CDI – R702 900
Drive Out says:

If you don’t expect the impossible, and you fit the right tyres and use common sense, you have a luxury vehicle that can do surprisingly rough roads. You also have one of the world’s most powerful diesels.

PRICE: R855 150 as tested (R776 000 standard)


Engine: 4134 cc, V8 turbodiesel
Power: 250kW@4000 rpm
Torque: 800Nm@1750 – 2750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic, permanent four-wheel drive, Torsen limited-slip centre diff, electronic traction control
Suspension: Independent double wishbones, heightadjustable and speed-sensitive air suspension
Brakes: Vented discs
Wheels: 265/50 R 19
Ground clearance: 22-30cm
Approach angle: 24º (with air suspension)
Departure angle: 25º (with air suspension)
Wading depth: 58cm (with air suspension)

Drive Out: 1961 Unimog 411

2011-04-18 13:59

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