Unless you live up in the mountains or work somewhere that requires you to traverse perpetually muddy roads, it’s highly unlikely you’d ever need an all-wheel-drive sports utility vehicle (SUV). But despite their larger size (which makes them tricky to manoeuvre in our mostly compact carparks) and thirstier powertrains, they remain popular with suburbanites who like their rugged looks or perhaps feel the need to dominate other road users.
If you’re that sort of driver and have a budget of around $340k, then the Volkswagen Touareg is one model to consider. Measuring almost 4.8m end-to-end and standing 1.7m tall, its size alone is enough to ward off most motorists who might otherwise try to cut you off. Making the R-Line variant featured here look even more menacing are its 20-inch wheels, which are a size larger than the ones on the entry-level Touareg Edition X.
Further distinguishing the Touareg R-Line from its Edition X sibling are the piano black lacquer trimmings and two-toned leather seats in the cabin. There’s also four-zone (as opposed to dual-zone) climate control, while the standard hi-fi has been upgraded to a Dynaudio Confidence system to enhance passengers’ auditory pleasure.
Better than listening to your favourite tunes, though, is hearing the 3-litre turbo-diesel’s throaty vocals. Rev the engine past 4000rpm, and the resulting serenade is positively addictive. The fat torque band is just as awesome – the 550Nm (produced at 1750rpm) is 190Nm more than what the 3.6-litre V6 musters in the petrol-powered Touareg R-Line variant.
With so much twist on tap, the 8-speed automatic’s manual override function becomes redundant. Stab the throttle, wait for a moment as the motor overcomes the vehicle’s inertia (it weighs two tonnes, after all) and watch this oil-burner pile on the speed. It even does the century sprint quicker than the petrol-powered Touareg, despite weighing 50kg more.
This SUV’s neatest function, however, is its trick air suspension. Apart from letting drivers raise the ride height for off-roading duties and lower it to help the car fit inside tighter carparks, the dampers can also be set to one of three different modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Comfort, however, makes the ride too mushy, so you’d best leave it in either of the latter settings.
The only drawback to this German bruiser is that it’s hard not to drive it enthusiastically, thus negating the efficiency of its diesel powerplant. But frankly speaking, that’s one problem you’d definitely like to have.
This article was first published in the November 2013 issue of Torque.
2013 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 (A)
ENGINE 2967cc, 24-valves, V6, turbo-diesel
MAX POWER 245bhp at 3800-4400rpm
MAX TORQUE 550Nm at 1750-2750rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.6 seconds
TOP SPEED 220km/h
CONSUMPTION 13.9km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 189g/km