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It’s not often that VW’s biggest SUV the Touareg is fettled with, and in fairness why would they. Originally launched in 2002, (and developed alongside the Q8, Bentayga and the Urus), the Touareg has sold over a million units and has become a key player in the brand’s impressive line-up. Well the 3rd generation is at its mid-cycle point and VW have not only refreshed the exterior and totally revamped the technology, but they’ve also added an R – it’s their most powerful production SUV to date, and it’s a PHEV too!

The NZ reveal took place at Giltrap’s premium showroom in Auckland, with a drive route set to follow thereafter, it was a focused press event that offered a fair amount of seat time, AND we got to take a Touareg home with us (unfortunately not to keep though).

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

The third generation has three models, two of which are coming back from the pre-facelift (the V6 170kW/500Nm and V6S 210kW/600Nm) and one is the new one (the R PHEV). As this is a facelift, the sizing remains the same, however, the exterior now comes with a new VW split-grille, (and R-exclusive bumper in the R), the 19,000+LED headlights are IQ matrix across the board, with a 3-eye look, advanced auto high beam (that illuminate the lane you’re in), L-shaped DRL’s that are replicated on the tail, and the lightbar across the rear includes an illuminated VW logo.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

The V6S and R do come with some additional trim levels and clever features such as a roof rail alert to let you know if you’re top heavy, plus the V6S comes with rear-wheel steer, but more on that soon.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

A big change across the board is the infotainment and instrument cluster, it’s now one big haptic touch experience that VW are calling an inner vision cockpit, seriously, it’s very in depth and would take a long time to explain all the functions, but all you need to know is that it’s very intuitive and looks ultra-modern.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

According to VW, the hero of the new range is the R hybrid and for good reason. Not only does it come with more trim and features, including blue brake callipers, blue stitching inside, puglia leather furniture, front seat massage and a Dynaudio stereo system, but as said earlier, earns a place as their most powerful production SUV, with a 3L V6 (250kW/400Nm) married to a 100kW electric motor. Combined they create 340kW, 700Nm, propel this big beasty SUV from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and yet (can) offers 1.9L/100km fuel-efficiency, emits 44g/km of CO2 and will travel 53km in EV only mode.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

With the reveal over, we hopped into the new Touareg for a less than direct ride out to Murawai beach and lunch. All three models were available, however we climbed on board the R PHEV in Lapiz blue of course.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

Travelling along SH16 in a huge and hugely powerful Touareg was as simple as it sounds. The rev needle stayed low and a simple dap into the touchscreen had us doing 100km/h with zero emissions (we could have gone up to 140km/h). Acceleration on the move is great, with the a nice kickdown when you push the pedal all the way to the floor, however, I must say that at lower speeds, the big SUV does take a moment to ensure you do want to play with all its 700 newts – of course we did.

The screen menus offer more information and options that you (ever?) need, and many of said options can be personalised, memorised and allocated to several different drivers, so it would be a case of setting it all up once and then leaving it.

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

Even on its large 22-inch wheels, the R has a quiet and road noise free cabin, of course the hefty stereo will drown out anything and everything else, but even without that, the R can be driven with civility. But away from prying eyes, there is no doubt that this SUV has a performance bent to it.

We switched Touaregs somewhere around Helensville and we moved to the V6S, which in all fairness was not at all a comedown. The R-Line V6S offers a little more luggage space (as there is no 17.9kWh gross EV system in the rear) plus an all-wheel steer system that makes turning at slow speeds tight and at higher speeds, grippy. 

2024 VW Touareg review NZ

Being an R-Line, the seats are ‘only’ varenna leather appointed, and the blue stitching has been removed all around the cabin, but it’s still ergo-comfortable and still comes with all that new tech. It’s quick too, not as quick as the R of course, but still kept up well, particularly when we moved into the twists and turns, luckily before lunch.

As I said, VW NZ are certain that the R PHEV will be the drawcard for the new and updated Touareg, and I believe that at time of writing, the first shipment is all but accounted for. However, they also feel that the V6S R-Line will (after the initial burst), probably become the model leader. I guess it all remains to be seen. I for one wouldn’t be unhappy with the V6, after all, they can all tow my 3.5-tonne boat (if I had one).

Looking forward to the follow up drive.

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