Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
In the German language, Volkswagen means "people's car", while the automaker's infamous slogan, Das Auto, means "the car". Touareg then? Well that's not German. This SUV was named after the Tuareg people in North Africa for the tribe's notorious strength and adaptability, the traits that Volkswagen decided to infuse into their Touareg. Well it worked. Volkswagen's largest SUV has been around for more than a decade and has sold more than 800,000 vehicles worldwide.
With the sport utility vehicle market booming in the past few years and sales ever increasing, now is the time for automakers to get it right. Despite battling in such a crowded segment and hiding in the shadows of the Porsche Cayenne, the Touareg receives updating styling, driver aids, and safety systems for 2015 to keep itself competitive and relevant. Will it be enough to keep customers happy until an all-new model arrives in the upcoming years?
Lighting upgrades, restyled wheels, and new paint colours reflect the subtle design changes that make the 2015 model more of a mild refresh than a total facelift. Bi-Xenon headlights are now standard and the new front grille looks sharp - there are so many horizontal slats that it would put Gillette's razors blades out of business. Without a doubt, the Touareg presents itself as a German-bred SUV but the overall design looks slightly understated. The sidelines and rear panels are a bit plain and are definitely not as luscious as big brother Cayenne. There's none of that sparkle or aggressive tone that other German SUVs have nailed down to a tee.
Instead, the Touareg looks sophisticated, subtle, and authentic. That's the selling point and what a lot of VW customers have come to enjoy about the Touareg. Besides, if you want something sportier Volkswagen offers the R-line package ($2,375). Analogous to Audi's S-line package, it adds a touch of aggression (without overstating it) with new front and rear bumpers, side skirts, a rear spoiler, aluminum door sills, chromed tailpipes, paddle shifters, and a sport-tuned suspension.
The Touareg's interior feels higher-classed than the downplayed exterior. The fit and finish is excellent, the materials feel solid, durable, and I love what they have done with the mix of wood panels and soft leather. Even the egg-shaped car key is a sight to behold. It looks modern, has a sturdy weight to it, and there's something gratifying and nostalgic about inserting it into the ignition slot rather than using the available push button.
The dashboard appears clean and simplistic. Buttons are found where they're supposed to be, and the gauges and infotainment display utilize big fonts for easy reading and intuitive use. And instead of having a complicated all-wheel drive switch for the mud, gravel, and snow, there's just a simple dial that toggles between On-Road and Off-Road. None of that complicated mumbo jumbo. The contrasting brown seats are also a nice touch. The seats are average and lack any proper side bolstering or cushioning. It's no Volvo that's for sure, but the general craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail in the Touareg is impeccable.
Our tester receives the most expensive Execline trim that adds a premium Dynaudio 620-watt sound system, heated front and rear seats, manual rear sunshades, a power-adjustable steering wheel, 20-inch alloy wheels, and adaptive cruise control. New for 2015 are a host of new driver aid systems to keep the Touareg from hitting your local pedestrian: Lane Assist, Side Assist, Front Assist with City Emergency Braking, Automatic Post Collision Braking System, Park Distance Control, a Rearview camera and a 360 degree camera. It's got it all.
Under the hood is a choice between two familiar powerplants: a 3.6-litre gasoline V6 with 280 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0 turbodiesel V6 that delivers 240 hp and 406 lb-ft (15 hp more than the 2014 model). The turbodiesel is also the same one being used in the current Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Both engines are mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox. Our tester was fitted with the turbodiesel and right off the bat I can tell you that it doesn't feel like 406 lb-ft, more like 300 lb-ft. I'm not certain if it's just the turbo lag or the weight of the car, but acceleration off the line is somewhat lethargic. But if you give the turbos enough time to spool and keep the revs above 2000 rpm, all the horses will be charging out of the barn. Unfortunately on this side of the pond, we don't get any V8 engine option to compete with BMW's 50i V8 or its AMG equivalents. Realistically, I don't think there's a market for it anyways.
The Touareg comes standard with Volkswagen's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system with adaptive torque distribution, sending 40% of power to the front wheels and 60% to the rear under normal driving conditions. The diesel engine is fairly quiet and you won't hear much clatter from the well-insulated cabin. But there's still a distinctive diesel note when you listen from the outside. If the TDI badge on the rear didn't give it away, then this will.
To be optimistic, the positive tradeoff of the tractor noise and horsepower deficit is the outstanding fuel economy. When I first hopped into the car, the tank was full and the gauges gave me range of 1100 km. I thought to myself, well that can't be right, can it? I checked the manual and yep, it's housing a colossal 100-litre tank. For comparative reference, a Toyota Prius has a 45-litre tank. But as my colleague once said, it makes sense to stick a large fuel tank in a diesel car because in the outskirts, not many gas stations carry diesel fuel. After a full week of driving in the city, we got an average of 12.0 L/100km, right on the manufacturer's figures. That's quite a rare event for us actually.
The Volkswagen Touareg is the one of the cheapest ways to buy into the luxury SUV segment, especially if you want something German. However, being cheaper doesn't make it inferior. Many refer to the Touareg as the beggar's Cayenne, but that's far from the truth. As humans, we easily get sucked into brand premiums and the idea that the bigger the price tag, the better it must be. The Touareg is a fine example that proves that theory wrong. The driving experience is memorable, the steering is taut and responsive, the looks are military-grade, and it's got a 100-litre fuel tank to save you time and money at the pump. With the base model starting at $49,675, it'd be hard to find this kind of luxury and value anywhere else in the bracket. Built by the people, for the people. They're right, Das Auto indeed.
型号 Model: 2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline
顏色 Paint Type: Canyon Grey Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $68,575
試車售價 Price as Tested: $68,575
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,893
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,795 / 1,940 / 1,732
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,130
引擎 Engine: 3.0-liter TDI Turbocharged V6 Diesel
最大馬力 Horsepower: 240 hp @ 3,900 - 4,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1,750 - 2,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4MOTION All-wheel drive
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double-wishbone independent steel spring suspension
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Four-link independent steel spring suspension
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 12.0 / 8.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 275/45 R20