A large SUV might be as socially acceptable as a plastic carrier bag, but there’s never been a better time to buy one.
A quarter of a century ago, buying a large SUV meant driving a car with the thirst of Oliver Reed and the luxury of a Soviet bus station. Today’s large SUVs are (relatively) efficient, graceful on the road, accomplished off-road and offer the luxury of a first class lounge.
Which brings us on to the Volkswagen Touareg. Launched in 2002, Volkswagen’s difficult-to-spell large SUV has never quite hit the mark. The first-generation Touareg was good, the second one was forgettable, but the third-generation, launched in 2018, is the best yet.
It’s not cheap – prices start from just below £50,000 – but it pays to distance it from the rest of Volkswagen’s SUV range. Forget the T-Cross, T-Roc and Tiguan, because the new Touareg is a flagship in the style of the Phaeton.
Like the Phaeton, the original Touareg was the brainchild of Ferdinand Piech, but while the luxury saloon disappeared like a white elephant in a snowstorm, the Touraeg – sorry, Touareg – has finally come of age. In fact, it’s a bit of a ‘bargain’.
It shares its platform with the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga – a quartet with pedigree and enough kerb appeal to grace the finest restaurants in Kensington and Chelsea. The cheapest Audi Q7 costs £56,310, but that’s before you’ve spent quality time with the options list.
Life with a Cayenne begins at £57,195, but few will leave a Porsche showroom south of £70,000. Some command a six-figure price tag. As for the Urus and Bentayga – if you have to ask…
Standard kit on the Touareg SEL extends to three pages in the brochure, while the R-Line and R-Line Tech pack more sexy toys than a branch of Ann Summers. A fully loaded Touareg costs £57,000, which is the price at which an Audi or Porsche dealer would be willing to discuss a Q7 or Cayenne.
Volkswagen Touareg: ‘Grade-A luxury’
The Touareg isn’t all fur coat and no undies. Our Richard Aucock labelled it a “grade-A luxury machine”, arguing that “it’s a very fine way to carry five people and their stuff in luxury comfort”.
But don’t take Richard’s word for it. Right now, you can take an extended test drive in a Volkswagen Touareg for two days, which should be enough time to try the large SUV for size.
Brian Luckie, Touareg product manager at Volkswagen UK, said: “The Touareg is a car that can rise to any challenge – it’s comfortable, capacious, capable, and quick. A 48-hour test drive allows customers to find all of this out for themselves, and to get to know all of the luxuries and technology that the Touareg has to offer.
“By giving customers the opportunity to live with a Touareg for two whole days, we’re hoping they will get to bond with our flagship car. We’re confident that once the 48 hours are over and the car is returned, customers will be convinced by its skillset.”
The free 48-hour test drive on the Volkswagen Touareg is available until 17 December 2019 at participating retailers only.