Review: 2019 Volkswagen Touareg

19th December 2018
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Where does VW sit these days, as a brand? It used to be a middle-ranking status symbol, looked up to by those who couldn’t afford an Audi, looked down on by those who could. Now it’s much harder to pigeon-hole, thanks to an ever-expanding range, the bottom end of which targets affordable monthly finance payments with the Up! or Polo, and the top end… well, that’s dominated by the now truly impressive new Touareg, a large five-seat SUV.


If you thought you knew this car, based on the previous generation, try again, now this new one is out.

It has the smart familial VW SUV design of sharp folds in the bodywork, lots of chrome effect details glinting in the sun at the front, and a svelte, albeit everyman design at the rear.

However, it’s inside where the credit is earned. VW’s new infotainment touchscreen is massive, sweeping from the centre of the dashboard right round the driver behind the steering wheel. That means features such as satnav are displayed in almost cinematic quality, and all functions - seat heaters, aircon, DAB, Apple CarPlay, phone, information about the car and more (much more) activate as your finger approaches the screen, or by voice, or by old-fashioned touching. You can even customise the huge screen, as you would your desktop, by uploading photos or your favourite apps.

The entire interior is punctuated by bright blue, thin LED strips (there’s a choice of 30 colours) which look very cool and futuristic, albeit they reflect in the wing mirrors after dark. The ambient lighting is a £350 option.


Speaking of which, it was not until a move from London to the countryside that I realised what a bonus VW Group’s Night Vision system is, picking out pedestrians and deer in the dark before you do, pinging a warning onto you dash and flashing its lights in the direction of the detected object. It genuinely saved me from hitting a deer, which are rife on the lanes round our house at this time of year. The thermal imaging camera and pre-conditioning brakes is a £1,520 option – worth it if you’re rural.

Another whizz-bang feature on our test car were the groovy headlights, or LED matrix “IQ Light” set-up, a 31,420 option. When you select full beam, they spread out like curtains being drawn, an effect we never grew tired of watching. They also, cleverly, and usefully, block the section of beam pointing at an on-coming car, rather than forcing you to dip the beam, or dip the beam entirely. The system was quick enough to react to oncoming cars to make it more than a gimmick.

Another genuinely useful feature is the all-wheel steering. We wondered why we kept over-estimating the angle needed to reverse park into a carpark space, then realised that the active rear-wheel steer means you don’t need to heave the wheel so much.

The driving-aid systems are legion, as you’d expect from a state-of-the-art SUV: adaptive cruise control, intersection (ie blind exits) assist, park assist, traffic jam assist… Then there’s the “guaranteed” access to the internet via the car’s SIM card, and Car-Net, which will lead the news out to you as you’re driving, adapt the route to live traffic updates, guide you to a free parking spot and more. 


Oh, and then there’s how it drives. How times are changing – this part of a car test is becoming less and less relevant in certain car segments, family SUVs being one of them. We drove the 3.0-litre V6 diesel – you can rest assured VW’s latest diesels comply with the new stringent European regs. It’s a punchy but smooth unit, good for rapid overtaking. Combined with the optional air suspension and rear axel steering, it makes this Touareg an exceptional piece of kit to drive.

It’s unnerving, just how upmarket this car is, and puts it well into Audi territory, and a true contender for the customer who thinks he’s after a Land Rover Discovery. Just a shame there's no seven-seat version.

Stat attack

Engine: 3.0 V6 diesel

Transmission: 8-spd auto, AWD

PS/Nm: 286 (290bhp)/600 (443lb ft)

0-62mph: 6.2sec

Top speed: 146mph

Price as tested: £73,565 (from £56,900)

  • Volkswagen

  • Touareg

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