Sometimes, I can sum up a car in just one word. I rarely set out to, but when the answer to the constant “What’s the [insert car name] like?” is the same every time, it becomes a catchphrase for the whole car. In a week driving the Volkswagen Touareg TDI the answer was always the same: “prodigious”.
In every aspect, the Volkswagen Touareg brings a sense of size and power that is impressive. At its heart lies a turbocharged 3.0L V6 diesel with 240 hp and a stonking 406 lb-ft of torque available from 1,750 rpm – not that any of those numbers do it justice. I was convinced the engine was bigger for most of the week I was driving it. Even the engine note was impressive, as verified by an Aussie friend who heard it down the phone line: “Hey what is that?! That sounds good!”
This is an engine that made the 2,130 kg Touareg feel positively athletic in traffic, whipping up to speed and into gaps with complete confidence. If Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel worked as well together as the eight-speed automatic and 3.0L turbodiesel in the Touareg, I wouldn’t be mocked so much in my Leafs toque. The duo are deftly matched (again, the driveline, not the Maple Leafs) accelerating the behemoth VW SUV with a linear surge that resonates in my chest. The sensation from the driver’s seat proves that numbers don’t tell the whole story.
The Touareg has presence even before the magical turbodiesel gets woken from its slumber. At 1,795 mm, it’s taller than a Toyota Highlander by 15 mm, and 57 mm taller than a Nissan Murano. That height, coupled with a bulging, hulking application of VW styling, combine to make the Touareg appear bigger than it is. Climbing in, the driver’s seat is high, which offers a commanding view of the road but again imbues the Touareg with a sense of size that exceeds its actual numbers.
The lacquered woodgrain in the console is rich, especially paired to with the brown leather of our tester’s interior. The light coloured stitching on the seats and the faux brushed aluminum trim all added to the sense of luxury on board, with ribbed knobs for volume, tuning and automatic climate control all providing great sensory feedback.
The instrument cluster that works so well in the Golf and the Jetta didn’t quite suit the Touareg, however, its simple elegance seeming a little hollow in a car with this sort of gravitas. Having said that, nothing beats this setup for ease of reading. The steering wheel was another mismatch, its leather not thick or supple enough to match the promise of the very comfortable, rich-looking seats.