VW Touareg, International Media Drive, Salzburg.
This all-new, larger Touareg is the third generation of this popular SUV. The first model was launched in the UK in 2003, and it doesn’t seem two-minutes since we were on the launch of it. Since the MK1, nearly 46,000 have been sold in the UK in total.
We landed into Salzburg airport, and the cars were lined up, strangely enough in what looked like a disused departure lounge, with Gate Numbers and toilets and shops surrounding the cars, quite bizarre we thought. But they looked magnificent lined-up and ready to go.
Only one model, or one engine was available to drive: the 3.0 V6 TDI that produces 286ps. Other engines that will be available will be a 3.0 V6 TDI 231ps, a 340ps 3.0 V6 petrol, a 421ps 4.0-litre V8 Turbo diesel, and at some stage in the future a 367ps Plug-In petrol Hybrid, but no date has been given yet for the launch of this engine.
We left the departure lounge and departed the airport and headed out into the hills, through some very pretty little Austrian villages, and went at a very steady pace to take in the scenery and look for places to take photographs. On many of the events you struggle to find somewhere to take photographs, and can concentrate more on looking for that ideal spot, and not on the car you are testing. But there was no shortage of splendid locations to get the camera out.
This new Touareg is full of new technology, some standard, and some available as options. One of the most impressive bits of kit in the car is the huge centre screen that measures 15-inch, almost as big as my telly at home, it dominates the dash. But is so easy to use, and so intuitive. The car we drove was fitted with a Sat-Nav system that was produced in conjunction with Airbus, and not only showed the roads, but also images of the surroundings, including buildings, in real time, all very clever.
This 3rd Generation is equipped with permanent all-wheel drive (4MOTION) mated to an 8-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox with ‘shift-by-wire’ functionality.
There are many options to be purchased by the customer including 4-wheel-steer, which turn one way at low speeds to help create a smaller turning circle, and easier parking and then at high speeds, turn the opposite way, which helps manoeuvrability and stability, especially on motorways.
There are loads of safety and assistance features including: front cross traffic assist, traffic jam and roadwork lane assist (partly automated steering and lane departure warning up to 60kph, acceleration and braking) and a new roll stabilisation system with electromechanically controlled anti-roll bars.
After the evening meal, we were taken out in the Touareg in the pitch dark up in the mountains to try the Night Vision which uses a thermal imaging camera which detects humans and large animals, though we never really found out exactly what a large animal is, a big cat, a small dog, or a sheep or cow. But one of us got out of the car, and walked in front of it, and those still in the car could clearly see the outline of us, in the dark, dark surroundings, bit spooky really, seeing this heavenly shape, shining as bright as a star, on a small screen in front of you. But it did work and would help reduce accidents involving people or animals.
We drove the next day back out into the fantastic mountains in Austria, and put the Touareg 286ps through its paces on the twisty roads, and for the size of this large SUV, it proved to be very agile and nimble, and a pleasure to drive. It is super-comfortable, the seats are almost perfect, and the type of car you could drive for hours. If I had been offered the opportunity of driving from Salzburg to Huddersfield I would have jumped at it without hesitation.
Prices for the new MK3 Touareg start from around £49,000.