23 January 2020

Volkswagen Touareg 2018 Review

One tends to expect the earth from an SUV costing over 100k. But sometimes it’s not the fancy, high-priced options which make life easier but the little things, often overlooked touches that require designers to really think through how a vehicle is used.

Touareg front
Volkswagen Touareg 2018
Touareg rear
Volkswagen Touareg 2018 review
Interior 1
Volkswagen Touareg 2018
Touareg rear2
Volkswagen Touareg 2018
Touareg side
Volkswagen Touareg 2018

So driving home one evening into the low sun, winding left and right up into the hills, our tester wasn’t focused on the leather seats, the impressively wide infotainment screen or the plethora of electronic features this Volkswagen Touareg includes, but was instead blessing the person who signed off on the dual sunshade.

Yep, fold one down in front of you then swing it to block sun through the side window, and you reveal a second sunshield to fold down and block low sun from in front. Then simply concentrate on driving, eyes shaded from glare no matter which way the narrow road twists and turns, without having to keep swinging that danged shield front to side and back.

Simple, and surely not expensive to make, but it proves someone has gone the extra mile. They certainly went the extra mile with the instrument/infotainment screen. Yes, screen – it travels virtually the width of the car, and though there is a seam, that’s hidden behind the steering wheel for an exceptionally clean and high-tech look.

Volkswagen calls it an Innovation cockpit, with that 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel linked to the 15.3-inch centre touch screen, accessed via gestures, taps and swipes of one or two fingers, rather like a larger-than-life iPad. It sounds complex but in reality it proved easy to use and navigate, very easy to read, and very impressive at first view – a screen this size, this useful, and this well integrated into the dash might once have seemed the stuff of science fiction, and now it’s in your car.

Better still, that car is a large, smart SUV with comfortable ride, impressive on-road handling skills and a motor able to accelerate with the alacrity of a smaller, punchier vehicle, or cruise with the unruffled aplomb of a top-class butler.

This is the more powerful tune for the 2967cc turbo diesel engine, a unit so quiet and refined from the cabin that were it not for the massive torque hit peaking from 2250rpm you’d think it was run with petrol. Interestingly, Volkswagen claims 8.1l/100km thirst for this vehicle – and our test car, including this writer’s hilly semi-rural commute, returned exactly 8.1l/100km over the 675km driven, since refuel, by the time we returned it.

As for handling, this is a talented platform – you have only to realize it’s shared with Bentley’s Bentayga and the Lamborghini Urus, as well as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, to realize it’s no mass-market cost-cutter.

That’s part of the equation which led to an increase in size, in available tech, and to this SUV’s confident on-road handling.

Volkswagen boasts of the benefits of four-wheel steering and four-corner air suspension, but in fact those are options – for $6000, including driving profile selection, or $10,000 if it also comes with active roll stabilization. Neither was fitted to our test vehicle, but at no point did our tester wish for an after-market improvement to handling or ride comfort, not even on the twisty hill roads that formed part of the test.

Volkswagen boasts a lot of fancy tech, with several other items only available as cost options, including Night Vision ($3000), which in our experience could be a life saver when reckless pedestrians and busy after-dark traffic combine. There’s nothing guaranteed to make you jump like a near-miss caused by wet night-time roads streaked with reflected lighting and obscuring a couple of young idiots in black strolling across in front of you. This tech spots them well before you do, improving your safety and theirs, quite apart from bragging rights.

Other cost options include a heated steering wheel for those regularly driving to the snow, a luggage net, ventilated and massaging front seats, and much, much more.

Some of this stuff you almost expect from a vehicle of this price – just as you might expect third-row seats from a vehicle of this size. That said, any Touareg is a smart, spacious vehicle that’ll be just as comfy driving from Cape Reinga to Bluff as it will be during an urban commute, and one which obviously benefits from sharing many of the handling and performance advantages of the rare-air brands with which it shares a platform, without sharing their price.

Touareg makes a great family car, not least because of those of neat little flourishes – like that split sunscreen – which make this Volkswagen so easy to live with.

It’s just a shame that to get the benefit of much of that extra tech, you need to dig really deep into your wallet.


At a glance


Volkswagen Touareg TDI V6 S


2967cc diesel turbo


$110,990 as tested

ANCAP safety rating

Not yet tested

Power and Torque

210kW at 35000rpm to 4000rpm, 600Nm at 2250 to 3250rpm


Eight speed Tiptronic

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

810 litres (all seats in use)

Safety systems

  • Reversing camera and park assist
  • Active cruise control with traffic jam assist/emergency assist
  • Front collision warming, front traffic assist, cross traffic assist
  • Rear assist driver fatigue detection
  • Rear traffic assist
  • Lane assist
  • Active bonnet, pedestrian monitoring
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
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