Testing times for Volkswagen Touareg
It's quite understandable if you thought the Volkswagen Touareg you saw in the upper right hand corner of our cover was an editorial oversight. Wasn't it only a couple of weeks back (issue 292) that we had one on the cover? It's also perfectly fine if you were even more perplexed after reading what's written under the picture and said, "Long-termer? No way! That car was launched here just a few weeks back, right?"
For those were the exact words that I blurted out when Amit announced that it's going to replace the Caddy SRX as our new office toy. Yes, a brand spanking new 2011 VW Touareg, and that too for eight long weeks.
Now, two months is a reasonably good period to know a car inside out, and since it's not a GT-R, chances are that the rest of us in the team will also get to see what the fuss is about with this one. So, you can expect to read and learn all you would ever want to about this refreshed Volkswagen SUV from different perspectives.
The Touareg has been a sales success for VW over the years since its launch in 2002. Although it ticked all the right boxes that make a great four-wheel drive, it was lacking in one thing that its two richer cousins, the Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q7, possessed. That's glamour and a personality of its own. It was just another bland, characterless SUV.
Thankfully, things are a lot better in thisnew version of VW's flagship biggie. The 2011 Touareg looks much more muscular than the previous version with its bolder character lines and wheel arches as well as the new grille that's become the VW corporate face across the range. Also, the headlights and taillights get the LED treatment giving the car a distinctly modern, up-to-date look.
Inside, it's typical Volkswagen. Subtle lines, high-end materials and an impeccable build quality all come together in the spacious and comfortable cabin. As beautifully put together as the cabin is, I found it difficult to find a comfortable position in the driver's seat. Maybe it was just me. Let's see what the others think about it. The 3.6-litre V6 FSI engine can be started either by pressing the stop-start button or by turning the key to the right or left. This superb powerplant, coupled to an eight speed transmission, is a joy to use and the new Touareg handles more like a car than the two-tonne piece of metal it is. Cameras around the car provide a 360-degree view, a feature that's sure to come in handy when we take it off road in the coming weeks.