Nomad at heart

by Andy Bryenton

Since 2003 Volkswagen’s big, capable and very comfortable Touareg sports utility has been the hallmark to beat when it comes to going places off the beaten track in style. 

Immediately achieving a position only previously occupied by the most refined of Range Rovers, the sure-footed machine named after the hardy Berber subtribe of the Sahara became a favourite of those who placed engineering, ride and technology over empty badge prestige.

The all-new 2018 Touareg is new not just in name, but new from the ground up. A ‘back to the drawing board’ approach, which has given the big Volkswagen clear-cut, handsomely aggressive lines and some of the biggest, most knockout alloy wheels on a factory sports utility. Tellingly, this slightly bigger, definitely bolder Touareg shares a platform with the upmarket Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga, but eschews big noting in favour of packing in more of what drivers want beyond the badge.

It is, after all, an iteration of the ‘people’s car’ — and Volkswagen knows exactly how to give the people what they want. 

The cabin is nothing short of futuristic, with a crisp head-up display acting as the curtain raiser to a massive sweep of digital readouts — both electronic dials and a 15 inch infotainment screen, which uses tiles in the fashion of a Microsoft tablet. 

Configure it how you like, and everything is there at a fingertip’s command. If you want to be wrapped in a quiet, leather-swathed, nicely accented cocoon of serenity as you cruise, there’s now no need to buy a Mercedes S-Class. The Touareg will also get you places a big luxury sedan could never dream of. 

Power comes from a smooth and whisper-quiet diesel six, designed to move all this luxury along with frugal and unobtrusive grace. Nevertheless, for those who still live with the misconception that an SUV must still be a lumbering creature, it despatches 0–100 kph in just over six seconds. Not long ago, that was v8 coupe fast. Best of all, the Touareg is nimble when it comes to low speeds and tight spaces, boasting a turning circle reminiscent of that other notable VW — the Golf GTi. Storage in the rear for the gear is also more than ample, meaning that the Touareg is as practical as it is comfortable.