I've always loved a big SUV, the Touareg has always been in that category for me too. I remember the days of a W12 engine in one, looking lustfully at something I deemed I'd never be able to afford (and now I can afford it they're a rarity). It stood out as a noble steed with luxury and styling which was bold, so.. has the new one cracked it too?
Prices for the new Touareg start around £49,000, for that price you get bundles of tech and a 'comfortable' looking exterior. If you want one which stands out a bit more, you'll be going for the R-Line Tech and spec'ing in 21" alloys. After putting a few bits on top of that, you're in for the hefty price of £73,565.00 OTR - that's a house deposit.
Why is it so expensive? Well, the Touareg model has always been expensive - it's ahead of the times. Much like the Phaeton was, the Touareg is now the flagship of technological advancements and new design language. It's as close to the 'Starship Enterprise' as you'll get under the Volkswagen brand, so simply put - you get what you pay for.
Outside is my only issue as I feel Volkswagen could have been more bold in the design, it seems understated and matches the language of the new Tiguan so much - I still see a Touareg and think it's a big Tiguan. Even with the lovely 21" Suzuka alloys, the car I had on test blended in with other german rivals closely (Q7, Cayenne etc) - so while it's still a lovely looking vehicle, I feel they could have had more of a 'play' and the end result would have stood out more.
When you step inside, you find yourself thrown head first in to a world of luxury and technology with typical Volkswagen refinements. A giant 15" central infotainment TFT display showcases about everything you could ever want to know, whilst a 12" digital instrument cluster covers everything else. Both are adaptive and easy to navigate with a super intuitive infotainment operating system.
Audio is supplied by a simply balanced Dynaudio system, crystal clear whilst not losing bottom end. Punchy when needed but not overwhelming when cranked fully up. The front seats are superbly comfortable (heated AND cooled) whilst giving you great visibility all round, the rear seats are equally comfortable and also have bundles of leg room. If you're looking for 7 seats, unfortunately the Touareg no longer has that option - however you can fit 5 with lots of space left.
My only criticism on the interior is small: certain plastics don't give as 'premium' feel as I'd like for £75k (ish) and the steering wheel is the same as you'll find in a Passat, Golf, Transporter, Caddy etc.. it's not unique to Touareg which is a shame.
The large front grill is aimed towards the Chinese market, but doesn't look out of place in the UK..
Performance and economy wise the Touareg absolutely blew me away. 286PS/600Nm means you can power to 62mph in 6.2 seconds and keep on pulling to 146mph, all whilst not drinking fuel. The written combined MPG is 42.8, I saw 35.3mpg combined - on a run they claim 47.9 and it's entirely feasible to reach (if you don't get lots of traffic and drive at 60mph).
Around town the lock is superb (even better with 4 wheel steering) and whilst the 3.0 V6 doesn't always 'wake up' straight away when you floor it - when it does.. it goes extremely well. On back roads (with the adaptive suspension) it doesn't feel like a big SUV. It drives more like a Golf.. which takes up your lane and a bit of the oncoming lane.
Whilst you can no longer specify an 'off road' pack for the Touareg, it's still extremely capable off road and has a multitude of intelligent systems to help you out of the trickiest situations. You could almost say the car was idiot proof in driving characteristics then..
Finally, technology - and this has bundles. Let's start with night vision (though it is closer to thermal), which makes midnight back road jaunts less prone to.. deer damage. It also aids in town, allowing you to see through parked cars for pedestrians - it also automatically alerts you when it thinks someone is about to step out.
The 15 inch and 12 inch TFT displays, beautifully constructed and superbly capable. This is a new era of infotainment for Volkswagen and I can wait till it goes into more models. Easy to navigate, great to look at - though the far left can be a reach from the drivers seat (that's how huge it is). How about the new roll stabilisation system which electromechanically controls the anti-roll bars so in corners you get minimal body roll?
Perhaps you'd like to hear about 'Traffic Jam and Roadwork Lane Assist'? It's basically partly automated steering and lane departure warning (up to 37 mph), covering acceleration and braking. 'Front Cross Traffic Assist actually responds to traffic crossing in front of the Touareg - no more accidentally pulling out at a junction. Oh.. and active all-wheel steering which gives the Touareg the same turning radius as a Golf. The list does go on..
So, is the 2019 Volkswagen Touareg good? Yes, it's very very good. Whilst understated, it looks beautiful and in keeping with the design of previous generations of Touareg. The engine is capable and frugal whilst also having the capability to run smoothly and quietly. The interior is a technological haven with the comfort of a Bentley whilst giving you the rugged capability of a Volkswagen. The driving characteristics are fun and dynamic - not what you expect from an SUV.
The only sore point is the price, because when you option in a few things this car very quickly goes above £60,000. Option one like the one I had, £73,565.. and that's Range Rover money. Whilst you wouldn't get options on the Range Rover for that money, many people will always see a Range as a 'best of the best' luxury SUV. Funnily the Touareg is just as luxurious, drives in a more engaging way, gets better fuel economy and would be my choice of the two. However for almost £75k, you'd probably expect something which stands out a bit more - many Range Rover owners I know buy them just to say 'look how I spent my money'.
By that logic then, if you buy a Touareg you like to have all the amenities 'fame' can give to a celebrity, without having to deal with the publicity of being a celebrity. You live a lavish lifestyle, do amazing things for the world - but you don't need to shout everywhere about what you've done.