Read pretty much any review of the VW Touareg – including some of mine – and you’ll learn that it shares its underpinnings with the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. Despite being comfortably the cheapest of the bunch, it’s also got one other significant advantage over its relatives. With the possible exception of the Audi, they are all statement cars – big, expensive, luxurious vehicles that say something about their owners.
The Touareg however is hardly going to get the neighbours’ curtains twitching and that suits me down to the ground. It’s a decent looking car but not in the least bit ostentatious and in an age when we seem to be falling out of love with big, brash, SUVs and the legislators view ‘diesel’ as a dirty word, the VW flies pretty much under the radar. But don’t think that its understated looks means that you don’t get the full luxury SUV experience. Pretty much everyone who steps into the passenger seat is pleasantly surprised by the genuine feeling of quality in the interior. It uses top-notch materials and is well laid out – and of course everyone is blown away by the huge infotainment screen which blends seamlessly into the driver’s instrument panel to give the impression of one single huge piece of glass.
The 3.0 V6 TDI engine is extremely refined and our test car is the 286bhp version which will power you to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds and take you on to a maximum of 146 mph. That’s more than enough poke in a 2,300 kg lump like this as far as I’m concerned. The V6 petrol version offers an extra 54bhp but is less fuel efficient and puts out more CO2. Talking of fuel efficiency, in an industry first, I’ve found that VW’s quoted combined fuel consumption is actually pretty similar to my real world experience. The company quotes 33.6mpg and despite living in central London I seem to return an average of more than 30mpg most months.
So, the Touareg is a hugely capable and likeable family car but there are of course a few niggles. The glove box is miniscule (so small it can’t even house the owner’s manual) and the pre-impact warning system is a little on the cautious side. Every time it kicks in, it brings to mind that legendary Kimi Raikkonen quote from the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he famously told his team “leave me alone, I know what to do”.
And despite being largely intuitive and easy to use, the infotainment screen still frustrates me in that the clock isn’t permanently displayed. Similarly, after almost a year with the car I still haven’t figured out how to get the odometer reading up on the screen. Basics such as these should be simple and permanently on display. But these are minor points and I’ve genuinely connected with the big VW in our time together. I’ll miss it when it leaves us later this month.