Volkswagen has packed its new Touareg with the latest high-tech equipment available, making the SUV the brand's most advanced model to date. Touareg customers can choose from options often only found in premium cars. These include thermal imaging to see better at night, VW brand's first head-up display projected directly onto the windshield, a fully digital cockpit with two large screens, along with electromechanical anti-roll stabilization for better handling.
The Touareg is now VW brand's flagship after it axed the slow-selling Phaeton sedan in 2016 and the latest model is being positioned further upmarket. The third-generation Touareg "shows what Volkswagen can do in terms of design, technology and innovation," VW brand CEO Herbert Diess said.
The Touareg offers many of the Level 2 semi-autonomous features found in the Audi's A8 flagship sedan.
These include Traffic Jam Assistant, which independently keeps the vehicle in its lane and at a safe distance away from the car in front of it. Thanks to additional sensors such as a laser scanner in the grille, VW engineers say the Touareg can eventually be enabled for Level 3 autonomous driving as soon as global regulators agree on how to homologate the technology.
The Touareg is underpinned for the first time by Audi's MLB Evo architecture, which is also used by the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, allowing VW to offer advanced technology at affordable prices. VW said it is using the full range of features that the architecture allows.
VW will offer the Touareg in Europe with a V-6 gasoline engine with two power outputs. It is the first-time buyers have had such an option since 2014 when gasoline engines were dropped because of low sales. Two V-6 diesels will be available at launch and a 4.0-liter V-8 is scheduled to come later. VW expects that most Touareg sales in Europe will be diesel versions. A plug-in hybrid is planned for Europe, but the launch date has not been decided.
VW built just 42,400 Touaregs last year, less than 1 percent of the brand's overall annual output, and sales of the latest model will be hurt by the decision to pull the SUV from North America, where VW is focusing on its new Atlas SUV, and Japan. VW hopes sales in its core European and Chinese markets will compensate, leaving volumes roughly stable at half a million over the vehicle's life cycle.
The new Touareg is slightly wider and longer than the current model, helping to increase luggage capacity to 810 liters from 697 liters with rear bench seat up. The body, which is made from 48 percent aluminum and 52 percent high-tech steels, is 106 kg lighter.
Infotainment: The Innovision Cockpit has a configurable 12-inch digital instrument cluster paired with a 15-inch middle console with curved glass that angles the panel toward the driver. The intuitive system, which reacts to touch, speech and gesture commands, costs 3,500 euros.
Steering: Optional all-wheel steering boosts maneuverability in tight areas by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to those at the front. This reduces the Touareg's turning radius to that of a VW Golf.
Cornering: Active roll prevention uses a 48-volt motor to adjust the body's pitch and tilt more precisely than a hydraulic system for greater comfort and control in corners.
Off-road: Air springs allow the vehicle to be lowered by as much as 40mm for easier loading and raised by up to 70mm for greater ground clearance. This helps in off-road driving, especially when crossing through water.
Interior: Themed trim packages are offered such as Atmosphere with warm materials such as wood and Elegance with a more metallic look.
Launch date: June (Europe); Q4 (China)
Price: 60,675 euros
Where built: Bratislava, Slovakia
Main rivals: Volvo XC90, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE