The VW Touareg is an extremely spacious car but hides its girth well

SINGAPORE (Oct 21): The first thing you notice about the new Volkswagen Touareg is its size. This is one heck of a big sport-utility vehicle. I am not sure why this took me by surprise, as I have already driven some huge SUVs this year, including the Audi Q8 and the even bigger Rolls-Royce Cullinan. But already, my overactive mind was worrying about how I was going to park it and scraping the wheels on the kerb. Both these concerns were totally unfounded, I am pleased to add.

Some call the Touareg a cheaper version of the Audi Q8 (incidentally, VW owns the Audi brand, along with Porsche, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini). But I think you should judge the Touareg on its own merits. Despite being bigger than its predecessor, it is actually just over 100kg lighter, thanks to the use of lighter aluminium and high-strength steel.

So, if you like your SUVs big and intimidating but also with some nice curvy lines, then you are in the right place. The Touareg is a good-looking car and hides its girth well with a sharp design and sleek IQ.Light LED matrix headlamps. With a car of this proportion, you will be expecting a big interior, and the Touareg does not disappoint. The cabin feels cavernous, especially when you open up the supersized panoramic sunroof.

In fact, everything is big inside the Touareg’s cabin. For starters, there is a huge 15in screen that takes centrestage on the dashboard. I really like as it is set up like a smartphone, so you can swipe apps and rearrange them. There is also a 12.3in instrument panel and even a head-up display on the windscreen. That is a lot of screen space.

There is a cool-looking dial in the centre console that controls air suspension. Yes, you can adjust the height of the Touareg’s suspension to suit road conditions. While most of us will be driving on tarmac, there could be the odd occasion when you find yourself off-road. You can raise or lower the SUV by 40mm, which does not sound like much but does make a difference in the drive. In general, it is a light and bouncy ride, helped by chunky 21in wheels.

At the core of the Touareg is a very expensive platform that is also used in the Audi Q7 and Q8, the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne. These are all premium brands that cost a lot more money than a VW, even if they all share the same engineering. The Touareg’s engine is also on the premium side — a mighty three-litre, turbocharged, V6 beast that produces 335bhp and 450Nm of torque. You will never be short of power in this car.

There are plenty of gadgets to play around with in the Touareg, not just one that controls the air suspension. The seat massage function is always one of my favourites. On top of that, you can activate the seat’s in-built ventilation, and change the bolster and thigh support of the seat. While these features are only for the front occupants, back-seat passengers are not forgotten. There is plenty of legroom in the rear of this spacious cabin, and the back seats get two extra climate zones. So, that is four climate zones in total within the car. There is no scrimping on boot space either, with an 810-litre boot that you could possibly sleep in, if the need arises. Push down the back seats, and that space expands to a cave-like 1,800 litres. This is where the air suspension is useful — if you are loading heavy items into the boot, you can lower the car by 40mm to make it easier.

Another plus point for the Touareg is its relatively small turning circle for such a big SUV, courtesy of the all-wheel steering, which is a standard feature for all Touaregs in Singapore. It gives the car much more agility too. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels; at higher speeds, they turn in the same ­direction.

Some motorists may baulk at the cost of the Touareg at a little over $300,000, which admittedly is a lot of money for a VW. But you are getting a lot of car for your money. There is also an abundance of safety tech to keep you and the car unharmed. This includes front assist, emergency braking and lane assist. While VW falls below its sister brands Porsche and Audi in terms of luxury and performance, the Touareg has definitely narrowed the gap.

VW Touareg

$323,400 including COE

Engine: 2995cc, six-cylinder, inline, 24-valve, turbocharged

Power/torque: 335bhp/450Nm

Fuel consumption: 11.5L/100km

0 to 100 kph: 5.9 seconds

Top speed: 250kph


Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast