Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDi

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by Jazz, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. Jazz

    Jazz Powerhouse of the Scrum

    Mar 14, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Vancouver, BC
    I want :big grin:

    It's right and proper that the Porsche Cayenne should appear in the pages of evo, being a Porsche (of sorts) and all. So why not its country cousin, the Volkswagen Touareg? After all, both cars were conceived together and shared the prototype nursery during their early gestation, even if the projects did go their separate ways after that. And both still have the same transmissions, doors and sundry other parts.

    Besides, the top Touareg has the 420bhp W12 engine already seen in both the Volkswagen Phaeton (the Touareg's fish-partly-out-of-VW-water soulmate) and the company's Nardo record-breaking supercar, so Cayenne-troubling performance will be on tap. But evo hasn't driven that one yet. We have, however, driven what is likely to prove the most sharply-focused Touareg of all. It has a diesel-fuelled engine, true, but don't turn the page just yet.

    This engine delivers 553lb ft of torque
    , more than you'll find oozing from the flywheel of nearly any other production engine apart from the turbocharged Bentley motor. That this peak arrives at a low 2000rpm is to be expected in a diesel, but even by derv-burner standards the 3750rpm peak power speed is languid. A pleasing 313bhp arrives at that point, another output high enough to trigger curiosity as to what exactly lurks under the Touareg's bonnet. Is it a steam engine which merely uses diesel oil to heat its burners, perhaps?

    That's what it feels like as the big VW claws its way up an impossible slope at little more than the 550rpm idling speed, but in fact this is a 5-litre, V10 turbo-diesel with pump-jet injection, a balancer shaft and two variable-nozzle turbos. The exhaust has the gentle beat of a straight-five, twice over, the transmission is a smooth-shifting, six-speed Tiptronic with Ferrari F1-like steering-column paddles. Lovely.

    But our interest would soon pall if, engine apart, this was just another overweight, over-here 4x4. However, the BMW X5 has shown what a two-ton-plus off-roader can do on-road, and the Touareg - named after 'a resourceful and intelligent Saharan tribe' - takes this new spirit of simultaneous cake possession and consumption a stage further. I didn't believe it could corner as well as it does, either.

    There are several reasons why it can. The centre of gravity is quite low, the track is wide, and the Touareg follows both the Phaeton and the Range Rover in having air suspension with variable ride height and adaptive dampers. Base Touaregs, which means 3.2-litre V6 and 2.5-litre, five-cylinder TDI, come with normal coil springs as standard, but opting for air gives them another 3mph of top speed because the body can sit lower and improve the aerodynamics. There's also a 4.2-litre, Audi-flavoured V8, by the way.

    Anyway, the air suspension with its three firmness modes keeps this momentum-rich machine level and unruffled to a surprising degree. This, coupled to lots of grip (the V10 comes with 18in 'Fat Boy' wheels) and surprisingly crisp steering, lets the Touareg nip through fast S-bends far more tidily than physics should reasonably allow, giving some context-dependent substance to Volkswagen's claim of a sports-car driving experience. And it rides beautifully, adding to the sense of cocoonment within the quiet, leather-trimmed, 'nutwood'-adorned cabin whose bulky facia is 'a tension-rich transition from horizontal to vertical'. Only some wind noise disturbs the peace.

    Now we're on a motorway climb in a humble V6 version, whose engine is that of the Golf R32 and base-model Phaeton but with less power and more low-speed torque. The throttle is wide open, progress is brisk - but then a V10 draws alongside. Its accelerator is squeezed, torque floods equally to all four wheels via 4XMOTION, and it's gone. Whoosh. Be in no doubt about that engine's mass-moving ability, and enjoy the fact that it still averages, officially, 23.2mpg. You won't get that from a briskly-driven Cayenne.

    Earlier, we played on a fairly serious off-road track. This Volkswagen that matches a BMW X5 for on-road ability, and also counts the Volvo XC90 and Mercedes M-class among its rivals, has a mountain-cred the others can't begin to approach. The lockable, multiplate-clutch centre diff apportions torque where needed from a 50:50 starting point, and there's the option of a rear diff lock too. A low-range gearset gives control and crawling ability, there's an anti-roll-back device and an automatic downhill speed monitor similar to Land Rover's Hill Descent Control, you can raise the suspension for big ground clearance (even the steel-sprung version has enough for most terrain), and you can tilt it at 45deg without falling over.

    Even better, you can mountaineer in comfort thanks to the supple suspension and kickback-free steering (how does it manage to be so precise?), and even watch the front wheels turn with the steering on the off-road pictogram within the sat-nav. I also think the Touareg looks good, more comfortable with its VW identity than the Cayenne seems to be with Porsche's. There is, however, the small matter of that name. What exactly is a toe-rag, anyway?


    Hopefully the pics work.......much better looking than the porsche :big grin:
  2. kodiak

    kodiak Member

    May 5, 2001
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    needs more torque:big grin:

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