2007 Volkswagen Touareg | road test

Posted on Jun 17, 2007 by

FOR

Excellent build and refinement, smart executive looks, ride dynamics, technology

AGAINST
Sluggish take off , few awkwardly placed controls

ON THE ROAD

Performance (3.5/5) Fair turn of speed but low down acceleration could have been better

Ride & handling (3.5/5) Very stable with excellent mannerisms

Refinement (4/5) Superb. Very clinical yet richly specified

OWNERSHIP

Quality & reliability (4/5) Absolutely brilliant.

IN THE CABIN

Behind the wheel (3.5/5) Effortless to drive and surprising too

Space & practicality (5/5) More than enough space for the family and kitchen sink too

Safety & security (4/5) Very well specified

Equipment (4/5) Enough to live with and then some…

ON THE ROAD

Performance (3.5/5)

The 3.6-litre V6 makes 280 bhp and at times this does manifest itself as being slightly inadequate – like when we were off-roading near the Big Red near Hatta. But on smooth blacktop it’s a totally different story. The Touareg cruises along smoothly, its only niggle being a somewhat sluggish take off. For sure, you will say that this is no sports car only a humble SUV and I totally agree on this count but I do wish that there was more coming from the 360 Nm of torque from low down the range, although the peak torque spread is from 2500-5000rpm. Our test car came with conventional steel springs, unlike the top end V8 model’s air suspension and to be honest, it felt absolutely adequate in its dampening function, giving a responsiveness that was highly laudable.

The Touareg is a hefty car, although it does not look the part feeling like a well-toned athlete in a well-stitched suit. Despite its heft, it is easy to manoeuvre and equally easy to drive smoothly. The last part is thanks to the automatic gear box that changes progressively through its six speeds – and you can even change gears manually! The only time we felt the jerk in the gearbox was when slotting it into first in low-ratio, off-road mode. And selecting low ratio as well as the differential locks was just a matter of twisting a knob mounted on the centre console behind the gear lever.

Technologies abound with a Land Rover-like hill descent control keeping the Touareg under control on steep and slippery descents like the one we experienced on the dunes. Then there is ABSPlus which reduces braking distances by as much as 20 per cent. And no, we did not create an opportunity to test this out but can very well except VW’s figures.

For sojourns off-road, power is transmitted to the wheels via VW’s 4XMOTION all-wheel drive system. Under normal road conditions, power distribution is 50:50.  Depending on the driving situation up to 100 percent of the propulsive power can be transmitted to just one of the two axles. An electronic differential lock (EDS) acting on all four wheels enables fine distribution of propulsive power.

Ride & handling (3.5/5)

There is certain panache to the way the Touareg drives. There is no rushing about, instead the it does things in a most effortless manner. You could say that rushing about in this SUV seems almost inappropriate and a leisurely approach is more in keeping with its persona. Seriously, I just did not feel like pushing the Touareg hard, rather enjoying the relaxing drive it provided. And the excellent Dynaudio sound system coaxed me in invariably taking the long way home.

Through bends – both fast and slow – the big Vee feels absolutely planted on the road, thanks to its well-weighted steering, holding on to its line and masking its toned bulk well. If in a hurry, the V6 needs to be worked hard with the manual operation of the gearbox but it responds well and is quite lively too.

 

 

Refinement (4/5)

has mastered the art of producing cars that are absolutely on the money as far as levels of refinement are concerned. There is an uncanny sense of everything being in the right place (except for a knob or two which induce the driver to stretch a bit) and the materials and colours used in the interior compliment each other to create an environment that is not only pleasing to the eye and touch but communicates a feeling of comfort and luxury. Body panel gaps are precise and the Touareg as a whole induces a good and happy feel to its owner.

Quality & Reliability (4/5)

Quality is top notch and there are some innovative technologies built in. For instance, the optional automatic distance control and the side scan (lane change assist) help in improving safety on the road. The Touareg also gets a reversing camera, making it even easier to squeeze in tight spots.

VW have endeavoured to give the cabin a tasteful get-up with a combination of wood, aluminium and good quality plastics (padded and soft to the touch). In the time we had the Touareg and believe me, we did give it a full workout, it behaved impeccably. In the off-road section of our test, it did groan and complain a bit, especially when subjected to some torturous twists in the desert near the ‘Big Red’ dune, south of Dubai, but then this was to be expected and can easily be forgiven.

As far as reliability is concerned, let me say this that we have an older Touareg and in two years of clocking up the kilometres (it has done around 40,000 km), we have yet to find it giving up on us – in any way! With the new MY07 Touareg getting over 2300 new parts, we would safely say that, if anything, it would be more reliable.

IN THE CABIN

Behind the wheel (3.5/5)

The ample space, high driving position, fairly rich specification and an engine which is lazy but transforms into a marathon runner in a jiffy, together impart a sense of achievement which is evidenced from behind the wheel in more ways than one. No doubt it looks good from outside but once ensconced behind the wheel, there is more than pride of ownership. Seats in our test cars were electrically adjustable and with the adjustable steering wheel, one can get to an optimum driving position easily.

With ample space for passengers and cargo, the Touareg manages to satisfy a wide spectrum: be it a family or someone who wants to have a stylish SUV during the week and a fun-loving off-roader on the weekends.

Space & practicality (5/5)

There is generous space and the Touareg carries five with ease – adults that is! The rear cargo area is liberal and this can further be enhanced thanks to the 60/40 split rear seat which when folded down creates a cavernous area. The rear cargo area can be accessed one of two ways: you can either open the split-glass only or you can open the whole hatch door. Should you open the glass first and then the door, the two will snap together for an easy one-step closing.

Safety & security (4/5)

Safety features include dual front and side impact airbags, side curtain airbags and Isofix system for child safety seats. Active safety features like ABS, ESP, EBC and an optional tyre-pressure monitoring system give the safety level of the best passenger cars. Another key factor is its low centre of gravity (for a 4×4) which makes it stable in sudden emergency situations. The usual immobiliser system is standard, and the optional keyless entry system (the key can stay in your pocket and communicates its identity via a transponder) won’t let the Touareg start until it senses the key inside the cabin.

 

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