Volkswagen Touareg

    According to the general consensus amongst all who rode in it, the Bentley Bentayga diesel I was fortunate to spend a few days with last year, was “one of the nicest cars” I’ve ever had. But then of course, so it damn well should be. It’s a Bentley for starters, and as you’re no doubt very aware they don’t come cheap. If my memory serves me correctly “my” Bentayga rang the tills at £139,100 - before options. Bentley had kindly added another £61,585 worth of those.

    So what if I was to tell you that you could a buy a car that’s mechanically very similar to the Bentayga for less than the price that most owners lavish on the options list alone?

   Well, you can. Almost…

  Volkswagen’s latest version of their flagship, the Touareg (You pronounce it Twah-regg, not Tour-ag, incidentally) sits on the very same VW Group MLBevo platform as Bentley’s behemoth SUV. It’s also the same chassis that you’ll find beneath the Lamborghini Urus, and the Porsche Cayenne for that matter; they’re all owned by VW you see.  

    But, whereas the salesmen at Crewe will charge you the best part of £140,000 to drive their car, and the Italian suits at St Agata Bolognese will charge another £20,000 on top of that to drive theirs – and that’s before you add any extras remember – the Touareg range starts at a far more reasonable £45,970. It’s also been said the Volkswagen is the best looking of that particular bunch too. I’ll let you decide.

    Now I’ll grant you, when it comes such exalted levels of both opulence and performance the Touareg simply can’t compete, and neither does its diesel engine – despite being a 3.0litre V6  - sound anywhere near as good as that of either the Bentley (even in the now sadly defunct diesel form), or the multi-cylindered Lamborghini. But ask yourself: What exactly do you want from your SUV?

    If you’re after a genuinely spacious 5 seater with an enormous boot; something with the ability the get you off a slippery surface without any fuss; more than enough day-to-day usable performance: 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and 135mph full-chat; the ability to tow 3.5 tonnes; the promise of very nearly 35 mpg – try doing that in a Bentayga an Urus or even a Cayenne; and a premium enough badge plus the presence to go with it make many a kerbside bystander take a second look, then just perhaps, you’re better off with the Touareg. Not to mention the 100 grand or so you get to keep in the bank.

   Now, I know what you’re thinking: Surely the Touareg feels like the lesser car?

Well, it’s certainly more premium than it is luxury; the carpets certainly aren’t as deep and the leather simply isn’t in the same league. But, I doubt you’d ever really feel that short-changed. It rides well – even on its steel springs (pneumatic suspension is an option), the eight speed tiptronic auto ‘box, if sometimes a tad hesitant, does a fine job of balancing fuel-economy and performance; it’s quiet; and for a car this size it’s surprisingly car-like and agile to drive – just ask the Porsche 911 Targa driver who couldn’t shake me off on a cross country  drive the other evening.

    And then there’s the tech and switchgear. All Touaregs get a beautifully clear and instantly intuitive 12” touch screen infotainment system that sits amidships within the dashboard. A 15” inch version is optional. So too is a fully digital dashboard, but that said “our” car’s more traditional dials were, I’d say at least, equally, if not more attractive. The Touareg also gets drive modes that range from from Eco through Comfort to Snow, Sand and Off-road Expert – all easily selectable thanks to the rotary control on the transmission tunnel. And needless to say all the minor knobs and switches feel as indestructible and familiar as they always do in a Volkwagen. Whisper it, they may not have the same sparkle, but they’re the same ones as used in the Porsche, the Lamborghini, and yes, even the Bentley too.

    At £40K plus the Touareg isn’t cheap, it’s also subject to extra vehicle excise duty charges. Neither despite its size, looks, and four-wheel drive system is it a genuine rufty-tufty off-roader. There’s no low-range gearbox this time, few first or second generation Touaregs were ordered with one so VW have decided it’s no longer a necessity. Think soft-roader instead. But, it is beautifully built, it is enormously spacious, and even if it’s not the most of involving of things to drive, it is a wonderful place in which to soak-up long distances.

    The Touareg might not be the luxury car Volkswagen will sell you elsewhere, but when compared to such things, in my opinion at least, it’s actually a bit of bargain.



Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 litre V6 TDi 4 Motion 231PS 8spd auto tiptronic

Engine: 2,967 cc V6 24 Valve turbo-diesel.

Transmission: 8 speed DSG auto tiptronic. 4 Motion Four-wheel drive.

Power:  228 bhp (231PS) @ 3,250 – 4,750 rpm

Torque: 369 lbft @ 1,750 – 3,000 rpm

0-62 mph: 7.5 Sec

Max Speed: 135 mph

CO2: 173 g/km

MPG: 34.9 (combined WLTP)

Price: from 49,095 otr (as tested £53,825)




Many thanks to Volkswagen’s UK press office for the loan of their Touareg



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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