Volkswagen Touareg

My built-in measuring calculator took a huge knock this week.

It’s a device that fits inside my head which tells me whether I like cars or not.

Normally it tells me to praise small, fuel efficient, friendly little cars like the Hyundai i20 I drove recently, or two of my Cars of the Year (so far), the Fiat 500X and the Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost.

Bigger cars get treated fairly, which is why the Peugeot 508 GT currently leads the Car of the Year race and the surprisingly excellent Jeep Renegade got such a good review.

Sometimes my built-in measuring calculator throws a wobbly, like when I see gas guzzling Bentleys and Rolls Royces, or especially the Range Rover Vogue which you’ll find parked on an “electric cars only” space every day at my nearest railway station.

The device goes into a fit of spitting out four-letter words to describe my contempt and scorn for these arrogant dimwits who probably don’t even care about their children, never mind the planet.

So how come I’m sitting here about to write a roll of praise for one of the biggest cars of the lot of them, the new Volkswagen Touareg.

To describe it as big would be like saying the Queen Mary is small compared to a 260,000 tonne oil tanker, or a 19,000 capacity container ship. That would still mean it’s huge.

The Touareg is massive. Weighing in at 2,331kg and 16ft long, 7ft 2in wide and 6ft 7in tall, the latest Touareg is a true Leviathan of the Road.

Everything about it is giant sized yet despite that I liked it. Just getting inside it, over its 19in high door sills and not banging your head, is an achievement.

Start the engine and it’s as if you’re in a cinema by mistake as its incredible 30in wide dashboard screen lights into life.

To be fair, it’s in two pieces, joined together almost invisibly. The giant 15in wide sat-nav display, which is also 7in high, may as well be a folded out map. It’s great.

In connection with the car’s size the seats are equally huge and comfortable, adjusting in every imaginable way. Even the knee supports can be extended while the front seats will do a fair impersonation of a back pain specialist, such is their ability to deliver a decent massage.

The interior is a dazzling mix of piano black, silver slashes, white stitched black and grey leather seats and trim, all surrounded by strips of thin blue lights which really come to life at night.

Rear passengers aren’t left out either. There’s enough leg room for basketball stars, they’ve got impressive door pockets (though not as immense as the front ones) and their own air-con controls in the centre of the car.

Moving to the rear of the car results in a real show of how big the Touareg is.

Before you even consider folding flat the rear seats by pulling on its side mounted levers, storage space is a metre wide and deep (39in) but, once you pull the levers and the seats spring forwards, that results in a 6ft 3in (191cm) flat area that’s big enough for bicycles or even the proceeds of a furniture shopping visit to Ikea.

That’s the space side of the car sorted. What’s it like to drive?

Well, with 286hp and a more than healthy 600Nm (442lb) of torque to back it up, the Touareg is surprisingly quick for its size.

It’ll easily chew up most smaller cars with 0-62mph coming up in 6.2s, while all that torque makes it immediately responsive at almost any speed, where it quickly blasts away.

Top speed of this turbo-diesel is a fairly irrelevant 146mph in the UK, but that makes it a difficult car to drive at a steady speed, such is its ease of summoning up urgency.

Once I’d learned how to switch off its ghastly Lane Assist device, which constantly fiddles with the steering, I left it off for the rest of whatever journey I was taking at the time, but that left me with a problem.

It meant I wasn’t able to use one of the car’s best features, Adaptive Cruise Control, because it only works with Lane Assist activated and it’s just not worth the hassle of being dictated to by a robot.

Nor am I able to report on what the standard car’s ride is like, though I suspect it’s pretty near perfect.

That’s because my Touareg came with a £2,370 extra called “Air Suspension With Rear Axle Steering”.

It was like sitting on the gin deck of an ocean liner in a mill pond sea.

I thought I was going to hate the Touareg because of its galaxy of screen operated systems that meant it came with almost no visible controls.

In the end, though, I’d worked out enough of it to realise that if the same car was wearing a different badge you could add £40,000 to its price and its owners would still feel as if they’d bought a bargain.



Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 3.0-litre V6 TDI 4Motion.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: Just looking at it is scary enough without actually being followed by one. Its width and height totally fills up your rear view mirror like almost no other car. Terrifying beast.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Unspoilt, with just two badges, it’s quite pretty for its size and very practical. Trouble is, everything about the Touareg is big, including the twin exhaust pipes, and it’s obvious what they’re for.

PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen 15 inch sat nav with speed limit display and showing height above sea level, four zone climate control adjustable by front and rear passengers, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera, trip computer, electric tailgate, heated and cooled leather seats, electric at front and with memory for driver, keyless start and entry, auto folding and heated door mirrors, auto wipers and dimming headlights, phone charging tray, 20-inch diamond cut alloys, DAB stereo with four USB points, Bluetooth, MP3, WMA, and AAC playing files, SD card reader and App Connect (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link).

NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Every time you start the engine the whole attack mode of annoying must have safety features, such as lane assist, comes back on after you’ve spent ages switching off the lot. Doors need a good shove to close them properly.

TASTY TOUCHES: Run flat space saver spare tyre is standard. Glove box and front door pockets are all big enough to hold a wine bottle. Double sun visors on both sides mean you can stop being blinded without constantly shifting them from the front to the side.

FAST OR LAST: It actually falls into a weight category called “large truck” by Americans, but that doesn’t affect its speed or smoothness.

WONGA WONDA: It’s not cheap but it’s got the lot, and more. Good value.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Far too vast for Chantelle, who’d be a lot happier with the Fiat 500 she’s just bought to replace her Ford Fiesta.

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