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Volkswagen Touareg 2024 review

The facelifted Volkswagen Touareg is cheaper yet better.

The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg has been on its way to Australia for what seems like forever with repeated delays pushing the large family SUV's arrival back one year (almost to the day) from its global release.

Changes made aren't drastic, meaning it's the introduction of the new flagship plug-in hybrid R variant that's most intriguing.

With the powertrain's niche success proven by cousin Cupra (also sitting under the Volkswagen Group umbrella), as VW Australia's first PHEV, the Touareg R may blaze the trial for future plug-in products.

On the spec sheet, the Touareg R certainly impresses. It makes no compromise on towing ability, power or cabin space despite consuming 60 per cent less fuel in lab tests.

We travelled to Melbourne and its scenic high country to sample the plug-in hybrid solution in VW's latest R product in the real world.

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Before we arrive at the driving, we've got to talk price – the reveal was a shock for all the right reasons.

When was the last time a new car arrived with a lower price than its predecessor? Well, the sweet starting price is the main reason behind the Touareg's tardy arrival.

The refreshed Touareg 170TDI entry grade lists at $86,790 before on-road costs, or $2450 less than the car it replaces.

New features include trick HD Matrix LED headlights with 38,000 individual diodes in the pair of front-facing lamps. Their beams can perform a sort of vehicular mating call with jazzy entry animations but their real trick is incredible functionality on dark country roads.

The new Touareg is priced from $86,790 before on-roads The new Touareg is priced from $86,790 before on-roads

Additionally, the 15-inch 'Innovison' multimedia touchscreen (that finally boasts full-size wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) is now included, rather than being an $8700 option, effectively dropping the price by $10,970.

New ‘Coventry’ 19-inch alloy wheels, open pore wood trim, black 'Vienna' leather upholstery, power-adjust seats with three-stage heating, dual-zone climate control and wireless charging pad round out the spec.

The Touareg is never going to compete at the low end on price with a Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder or Hyundai Palisade but they're not its true rivals.

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With MLB underpinnings befitting luxury nameplates (including the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga), the Touareg's a match for the Volvo XC90 and Lexus RX as well as BMW's X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

The $99,990 210TDI Elegance introduces 20-inch ‘Braga’ alloy wheels, air suspension with adaptive dampers, heated and ventilated seats with massage function and an extra 40kW/100Nm of grunt.

For $10,000 more again, the sporty R-Line gets 21-inch alloys, R-Line body kit, R-Line steering wheel with perforated leather upholstery, black headliner, alarm rear privacy glass, aluminium cabin inserts and upmarket ‘Puglia’ leather upholstery.

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The Sound and Comfort pack brings rear seat heating, a Dynaudio premium sound system, quad-zone climate, memory front seats and power-adjust steering column, head-up display, tyre pressure monitoring, soft-close doors, head-up display, and alarm. The cost is $8500 for 170TDI and $8000 for the 210TDI. A panoramic sunroof is $3300 extra.

The R gets everything above paired with 22-inch 'Estoril' alloy wheels, night vision, blue brake calipers, an exterior black pack and R-exclusive steering wheel.

Any colour other than Pure White is gonna set you back a chunk of cash. Four Metallics, Chili red and three monochrome shades each cost $2200 while the blues (Meloe on non-R and Lapiz for R) are $2700 extras.

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Rear-wheel steer and active roll stabilisation are exclusive to the R-Line diesel due to the R's battery-related packaging constraints.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Touareg is an elegant large SUV that has presence in its size, if not eye-catching design flair.

For the facelift, Volkswagen has smartened up the fascia and rear bumper. New 'click clack' front lighting signatures give extra menace while the rear light bar and glowing VW badge let you know this, indeed, is the new Touareg.

Fresh alloy wheels designs are interesting but the R-Line's are a little chunky for my tastes.

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Inside, it's a similar story, though worth calling out is the open pore wood trims on 170TDI and Elegance that are so classy compared to the chintz of a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The R gets Lapiz Blue accents and stitching inside though is generally very similar to the other models, meaning you might not feel so justified spending the extra cash.

Fans of light-coloured leather will be glad to hear the 210TDI Elegance can be ordered with Mistral cream leather upholstery for no extra cost.

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Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

Volkswagen has been busy improving usability of the touchscreen. There is now a vertical row of shortcut buttons for front and rear demisters, air recirculate and other heavily-trafficked functions.

Another row of shortcuts at the top of the screen allow you to a easily jump from navigation to car settings, phone mirroring and back.

Excitingly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto take full advantage of the massive screen, now running to all four corners.

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In general, the user interface is excellent and very user-friendly though there is occasional lag symptomatic of an older-gen processor. Also, when adjusting the HVAC settings, phone mirroring disappears briefly. Annoying but not end-of-world stuff.

Continuing on the theme, VW's customisable digital driver's display is very crisp and can display a map. The new head-up display is bright enough to work with polarised sunglasses, too.

There is plenty of space to stash snacks and drink bottles in the door pockets. Two large cup holders can be found in the centre console, there are three USB-C ports in the front (now 45W instead of 15W) and storage under the supportive armrest.

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The back seat is roomy with enough space for three adults across. There's a transmission tunnel but it's low enough not to be too troublesome.

The Touareg's rear doors open wide and are fitted with soft-touch materials as well as classy integrated sun blinds.

With a standard panoramic sunroof, and lots of space between the front seats, vision out is fantastic. The cabin feels light and airy but thanks to tinted glass and powerful four-zone climate control it never gets too hot.

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There are also two more USB-C ports and a second 12V socket in a fold out section of the rear console.

As before, the Touareg is only offered with five seats, with no optional third row to match some rivals.

All variants feature a standard power tailgate with auto-close functionality.

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The boot has a crucial flaw for Australian buyers, though: no Touareg is equipped with a full-size or space-saver spare tyre. It's an inflation kit or tow truck if you get a flat.

Other attributes, including an 810L maximum space with five seat up or 1800L with the second row folded, are rather stellar. So is the finishing, with quality carpet, a cargo net included, sturdy tie-down points and a classy bag for the PHEV's charging cables.

There are shopping bag hooks on either side, remote pull tabs to fold the 40/20/40 backrest flat and buttons to raise and lower the air suspension for easier loading.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The Touareg's core 3.0-litre common rail direct-injection turbo-diesel V6s carry over unchanged developing 170kW (at 4000 rpm) and 500Nm (from 1750-3000 rpm) in 170TDI tune and 210kW/600Nm in the 210TDI.

It's the plug-in hybrid that's interesting. A 3.0-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol V6 teams up with gearbox-mounted 100kW and 400Nm electric motor. An eight-speed transmission means it feels conventional when in petrol (or hybrid) mode with no slurry CVTs.

It means that the Touareg R has the same '4Motion' full-time four-wheel-drive system with mechanical transfer case. Volkswagen uses braking systems to simulate a locking diff for off-roading, known as Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) and Extended Differential Lock (XDL).

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Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Focusing firstly on the R, its fuel consumption is either stellar or proportional for a large SUV, depending on the battery charge and conditions.

The lab-certified 3.3L/100km, though, is fanciful given how most will use this vehicle.

Charged up to 100 per cent, we got 46km from the Touareg's 14.3kWh battery in E-Mode – pretty close to the 51km rating – in a typical suburban commute.

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It will take around 2.5 hours to charge the Tourage from 20 per cent-full at a 7.4kW wallbox, or eight hours using a three-pin socket.

Alternatively, you can recuperate charge on the move in Hybrid mode. Using regenerative braking and excess engine power, the hybrid battery can be returned to 100 per cent on a long drive.

On our extended, twisty country drive we saw 11L/100km in the R using hybrid mode, with a target of 50 per cent charge to carry us through small towns. A combined range of 750-800km from the 75L fuel tank is realistic.

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Planning your route, regular charging and paying close attention to what works best for economy will prove beneficial in the long run – a plug-in hybrid is not for the disengaged motorist.

The diesel engine's consumption was a more straightforward affair. Compared to the 7.3L/100km rating, we saw 8.0L/100km over hilly terrain with some dirt roads.

It is perfectly efficient in the country and the 90L tank means 1000km driving range from a fill-up is perfectly normal.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

The Volkswagen Touareg is a deeply accomplished large SUV no matter whether you go for the base model or flagship R.

It benefits from a rigorous development that shines through in a car that is quiet, well-built and confidence inspiring, despite its generous size.

Starting with the Touareg 170TDI, passengers are insulated from the 3.0-litre V6 diesel with few vibrations reaching the cabin. There's enough sound to tell how hard you're working the V6 but no excess.

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It is the only variant to ride on steel springs with passive dampers, though all Touaregs ride on five-link struts up front with multi-link rear suspension. The 19-inch alloy wheels shod in 255/55 R19 Bridgestone Alenza tyres have a lot of sidewall but sharp edges like expansion joints and speed humps can still be felt in town.

Put some energy through the Touareg's chassis – on the freeway or higher speed country roads, for example – and it settles beautifully. You could jump into the driver's seat and knock over a Sydney-Melbourne drive without breaking a sweat (or needing to stop for fuel).

Despite being 100Nm down on the 210TDI, the base car is also best for towing. All variants carry a 3500kg braked tow rating but the devil is in the detail – tow ball down weight is limited to 280kg on the base car but a restrictive 215kg for the 210TDI Elegance and R-Line.

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While it's not an overt sportsperson, the 170TDI's connected 2.5-turn lock-to-lock steering provides confidence in the Touareg's ability on country roads. A revised ESC tune is now smoother in its interventions.

And what of the R? It impresses across an even broader spectrum. You'd expect that for $43K more, though.

The air suspension's Comfort mode effortlessly smooths over sharp bumps in town despite 22-inch alloy wheels, yet firms up to give the R huge reserves of grip on twisty roads.

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That electric motor has enough punch to move the Touareg R at reasonable speed in town and the whisper-quiet operation feels extra luxurious.

With the R's trick suspension, Volkswagen offers a greater selection of drive modes. Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual are joined by Comfort and you can control the height of its suspension with the left rotary selector.

The 285/35 R22 Bridgestone Turanza T005s defy expectations for how a tall 2423kg SUV should grip. Volkswagen's not been able to escape physics quite as far as Hyundai did with the similarly-heavy Ioniq 5 N but the Touareg is a totally different style of vehicle.

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Some of the controls, such as the soft brake pedal (that blends strong regenerative braking with front six-piston calipers clamping 400mm discs), long-travel throttle and light steering approaching the limit remind you of the Touareg's mass. Every weight shift is natural and predictable, though, so it's an easy car to trust.

A synthesised engine sound is the only other miss, it's not natural and we'd like to be able to hear more of the V6's growl. 

Power is prodigious yet the different sources blend almost seamlessly. The delivery is smooth when you go for an overtake – full throttle is a swelling shove rather than whiplash acceleration – as the electric motor fills the short torque gap while the V6's turbo spools. The 5.1-second 0-100km/h sprint claim sounds on the money.

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We were unable to sample the 210TDI R-Line with its active roll stabilisation and four-wheel steer. With the plug-in hybrid powertrain's city-friendly attributes, though, the R-Line may be the pick for rural buyers. 

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The Touareg was awarded five stars in 2018 ANCAP testing in pre facelift-guise. Its rating will expire in December.

All Touaregs are equipped with AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, lane-trace assist, blind-spot monitoring and a 360-degree surround-view camera.

The facelift builds on these features with a night vision system, driver-attention monitoring and road sign detection.

All Touaregs are equipped with eight airbags: dual frontal airbags, side chest airbags in first and second rows, and full-length curtain airbags.

The Touareg has a five star ANCAP rating from 2018 The Touareg has a five star ANCAP rating from 2018

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Volkswagen covers the Touareg with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

The R's high-voltage battery is covered for eight years and 160,000km.

Volkswagen's pre-paid Care Plans offer the best deal for servicing. All models are due for maintenance every 12 months/15,000kms with the diesel costing $1900/$3500 for three/five years and the plug-in hybrid $2050/$3400 for the same intervals.


The Wrap

The facelifted Touareg is subtly improved across all metrics including price. That's a rare win for a mid-life facelift and should help VW shift more of this accomplished family SUV.

It's not all perfect, with no spare tyre included and the mis-match between braked towing capacity and towball down weight.

The diesel engine is torquey, refined and the 170TDI feels like an awful lot more than a base model with stacks of equipment.

As for the R, it's an expensive flagship with a unique powertrain. One that's very well integrated but the plug-in hybrid experience isn't for everyone. There's no doubting its performance credentials and everyday comfort, though.

No matter the spec, VW's revised Touareg is a family SUV that should definitely make it onto your short list.

Likes

Sophisticated driving experience
Restrained, classy design
Slick plug-in hybrid

Dislikes

Lack of spare wheel
170TDI's jiggly urban ride
Plug-in hybrid won't suit all

Scores

John:

4.2

The Kids:

4.3

$86,790

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.