What's the news?
The all-new, third-generation Volkswagen Touareg provides our first tangible glimpse at the German car maker's high-tech future. In addition to an impressive amount of driver assistance and safety systems, the new Touareg comes wrapped in a design that will see it go head-to-head with premium rivals. Adding to its substantial presence is an increase in overall length by 77mm and width by 44mm, while the roofline comes down ever so slightly by 7mm to give the big SUV a sportier stance.
A bold front-end design makes the new Volkswagen Touareg more distinctive than its predecessor and evolves the looks that have already graced the fronts of the VW Arteon and T-Roc. The (optional) LED headlights appear to merge almost seamlessly into the grille itself, forming a distinctive design feature. A chunky grille and large VW emblem proudly mounted front and centre leave you in no mistake as to who makes the Touareg. That front-end design also integrates an array of sensors for the various driver assistance systems.
Along the Touareg's sides, the bodywork is taut, giving the big SUV a solid appearance. The door handles sit below a sharp crease running through the shoulder line and a small chrome insert features at the start of this, between the wing and front door. At the rear, the big Volkswagen now has a sharpened look, helped by the sloped tailgate and distinctive looking LED light clusters.
Sitting inside the new Touareg reveals a familiar Volkswagen feeling. Ergonomically, it all works well, with an updated multifunction steering wheel and new drive-by-wire gear selector on the centre console. As lovely and well-made as the cabin appears to be, without a doubt the headline news here is the introduction of Volkswagen's Innovision Cockpit display. It's the first model in the Volkswagen Group to get the hardware and it looks exquisite. Made up of two high-definition displays, they appear merged into one single panel that forms the main centrepiece of a dashboard that is almost devoid of physical buttons. There's a small air vent on the driver's side while the front passenger gets a full-width vent spanning their side of the dashboard fascia.
The instrument cluster is made up of a 12-inch display screen that is configurable depending on driver preference and driving mode. As a further addition, it will be possible to specify a head-up display for this. The most significant addition is the 'Discover Premium' infotainment system. It utilises a huge 15-inch display (that's larger than an iPad Pro) and provides users with an array of the latest media and streaming technology. The satellite navigation system, for example, can learn your driving routine, such as a daily work commute, and can then proactively re-route you if there are unexpected traffic delays.
Reaffirming its title as Volkswagen's flagship SUV, the new Touareg retains its five-seat configuration, favouring passenger comfort and space over seating capacity. That's a move that won't please everyone, even if most of the seven-seaters on the market today are more like five-plus-two-seaters. Volkswagen has also confirmed that, unlike the smaller Tiguan, it does not plan on introducing a Touareg Allspace model. By sticking to a strict five-seat layout, it means that the boot capacity in the Touareg goes up by 113 litres to 810 litres. Some models will also feature a rear seat bench that can slide longitudinally by 160mm to allow for either more legroom or boot space.
Passengers will not only enjoy better space inside, but can be bathed in light thanks to the largest panoramic sliding roof that Volkswagen has fitted to a car to date. Measuring 1,270mm by 825mm, the front half of the roof can open to a variety of levels. At night, the cabin comes alive with an extensive ambient lighting package consisting of 30 different colour choices that can also be adjusted for brightness.
The initial engine offering will be made up of two versions of Volkswagen's 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. In time, more engine options may be introduced, depending on market demand. All Touareg models will feature permanent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automated transmission.
Volkswagen is making an arsenal of safety systems and driver assistance technology available on the Touareg, some which will be standard and others optional. A first in a Volkswagen is the Night Vision system. Through a built-in infrared camera, it can detect animals and people at night and can highlight their presence to the driver on the screen in green or red according to the risk level. This system can link in with the Brake Assist to pre-condition the brakes in anticipation of the need to stop. Additionally, with the new LED matrix headlights, any person in potential danger will be illuminated by a sudden flash to warn both them and the driver.
A familiar system is the Rear Traffic Alert, and this is complemented now by a new Front Cross Traffic Assist feature. This will help drivers when pulling forward out of a parking space or junction with limited visibility. Other features being offered include Traffic Jam Assist with Roadwork Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with a stop-and-go function and a blind spot monitoring system called Side Assist.
One further safety system that has evolved in the new Touareg is Automatic Post-Collision Braking System 2.0. According to estimates, around a quarter of all accidents resulting in personal injury are secondary collisions where the car hits something else after the initial impact. In its latest guise, this updated safety feature applies the brakes automatically in the event of an initial impact to reduce the risk of the vehicle colliding with another object afterwards.
The new Volkswagen Touareg goes on sale in Ireland in June. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.