2011 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI (not available in Canada)
2011 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI (not available in Canada). Click image to enlarge
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Volkswagen Canada

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Note: horsepower, torque and fuel economy figures mentioned in this article are based on European specifications and may be revised for North American models.

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2011 Volkswagen Touareg

Florence, Italy – The first major redesign of the mid-size Touareg SUV since its introduction in 2003 is long overdue, but at least it’s given Volkswagen engineers and marketers plenty of time to prepare for the next generation. Name any one of the current Touareg’s weak points, and you’ll find Volkswagen has addressed it in the all-new Touareg. Styling too conservative? Check out the pleasing, athletic proportions of the 2011 model. Not enough rear legroom? How about an additional 38 mm plus sliding rear seats? Cargo area too small? There’s an additional 72 litres in the new Touareg. Poor fuel economy? A brand new hybrid model, more fuel-efficient diesel and gas engines, and a major reduction in curb weight have greatly improved fuel economy. Reliability below average? Volkswagen says they’ve addressed common problem areas with the new design. Price too high? Well, that we won’t know until closer to its on-sale date in October.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI (not available in Canada)
2011 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI (not available in Canada)
2011 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI (not available in Canada). Click image to enlarge

Though it’s instantly recognizable as a Touareg, the styling of the new model is completely new with a more ‘athletic’ and ‘dynamic’ look emphasized by its pinched sides, prominent rear ‘shoulders’, wider track, lower roof height, and short front and rear overhangs. The Touareg’s lower roof height and smaller frontal area have reduced its coefficient of drag from 0.38 to 0.34, helping to reduce fuel consumption and wind noise. And just so you know it’s a new generation Volkswagen, the Touareg has a version of Volkswagen’s new corporate ‘face’ with horizontal grille bars and headlight covers and new U-shaped LED daytime running lights.

Externally, the 2011 Touareg is 41 millimetres longer, 12 mm wider, and 17 mm lower with a 38 mm extension of the wheelbase. The track is 3 mm wider in front and 11.5 mm wider at the rear, contributing to improved handling and stability.

Other major changes to the new Touareg include a lighter and stronger platform (which it continues to share with the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne), a newly redesigned interior with more passenger and cargo room, revised V6 FSI gasoline and V6 TDI turbo-diesel engines with more power and better fuel economy, an all-new hybrid V6 powertrain, a new eight-speed automatic transmission (replacing the six-speed), and new Stop-Start engine technology and regenerative braking on all models.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid
2011 Volkswagen Touareg
2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid: the hybrid model can run on electric power alone up to about 50 km/h on level or downhill surfaces. Click image to enlarge

Both performance and fuel economy have been enhanced by a significant weight reduction. Using computer-aided body design and lightweight high-strength steel and aluminum, Volkswagen engineers were able to reduce the curb weight of the base model by 208 kilograms (458 lbs) to 2,035 kg (4,486 lb) while improving torsional rigidity by five per cent.

The big news on the powertrain front is the new hybrid Touareg which will probably arrive in Canada six to twelve months after the gas and diesel models. It’s a full or ‘parallel’ hybrid that will run on electric power alone at speeds up to 50 km/h, or on both engine and electric motor at higher speeds and under acceleration. While coasting, the engine completely disconnects from the transmission and the fuel is shut off, and it can do this at highway speeds up to 160 km/h. When coasting or braking, the alternator recharges the 288-volt nickel-metal hydride battery located under the trunk floor. Lastly, a stop-start engine system shuts off the gas engine while ‘idling’ at stop lights, reducing fuel consumption.

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