900Nm of torque and a shade under 5 metres in length, to say that Volkswagen New Zealand’s new V8 R-line Touareg is substantial is a bit of an understatement, but as I found out, this big beast of an SUV is as smooth as rich dark chocolate to drive too.
Dressed in black with R-line black package (21-inch Suzuka gloss black alloys, black mirrors, black roof rack, black bumper and you’ve guessed it, black window mouldings), my review Touareg looked more like a poster child for the FBI than a luxurious family SUV but look past its ‘gangsterness’ and there’s a gentler side to this powerful animal.
Let’s get the engine out of the way. Under the Touareg’s bold bonnet is a 4L Turbo-diesel V8 that produces 310kW of power and (a supercar level) 900Nm of torque from as low down the rev range as 1,250rpm – that’s almost idle speed, and those numbers show. Its 0-100km/h time is under 5 seconds which is faster than its substantially lighter hot hatch Golf GTI sibling and will accelerate up to a top speed that will have law enforcement shake their heads as they rip up your license. However, although this Touareg has been advertised as the most powerful Volkswagen in the current model range (which it is), behind that satisfying V8 voice is a vehicle that is not designed to terrify the kids,
The Touareg rides on a four-corner air suspension that feels like you’re floating on air, funny that. It’s soft and absorbing when needed yet firm and stoic should you decide to explore the V8’s rev range. It’s also happy to roll up its trouser legs to go off road (automatically or via a dial in the centre console) or hunker down when driving rapidly or loading groceries (I wouldn’t recommend doing both at the same time).
Thanks to its active all-wheel steering, it’ll turn in tight spaces as easily as a hatch and when combined with V-dub’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, it handles the curves like a pro.
Then there’s the interior. Sure it comes lavished with ‘Vienna’ leather and there’s more piano black than on a Steinway but it’s the huge infotainment screen that’ll really grab your attention. It looks and operates like a giant Apple (the smartphone type) with swipe and touch functionality and comes with a plethora of apps and information that can be compartmentalised and personalised to suit (30 different ambient light colours to choose for example) you could spend a day getting immersed in its possibilities.
The overall size of the outside becomes very apparent within. Passengers are barely visible as they connect with their own devices, set their own AC temps and generally advise their driver (me) where they’d like to be taken and to keep them safe (from the outside world – not a disgruntled father) the Touareg comes loaded with sensors that alert you to everything from lane departure and blind spots to traffic signs and animals lurking in the dark.
Despite its size and grandeur, the V8 Touareg is simple to navigate and drive around in. The 8-speed, switch by wire, transmission never falters and is quick to rise up and down the box – there are paddles should you so choose but it seems like too much effort. It does FILL shopping mall parking bays but the 3D camera views ensure you’re slap bang in the middle of the lines.
It’s 810L of luggage space was more than ample enough to take football gear, food and chairs for a football tournament and more than enough room to stretch out weary legs thereafter.
The Volkswagen New Zealand Touareg V8 R-line is big and mighty, it’s a powerful SUV that has enough torque to tow planets (or at least 3.5-tonne ones), but it’s the way it drives that really makes a difference. The power is always on demand but not dumped on you (unless you really stamp on that accelerator) and the way it handles is terrific. Sure it’s a very large SUV but it’s more of a passive aggressive monster.