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The new Touareg is the premium SUV in the Volkswagen line-up currently and shares its underpinnings with nothing less than the Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7. Yet this VW costs almost half their price in the international markets. This just seems too good to be true. And now that the German auto major is seriously considering to bring it to India, we headed straight to Volkswagen’s home in Wolfsburg to find out whether it is myth or reality

Story: Sarmad Kadiri Photography: Adhish Alawani

If you look at the design of the new model, it’s unlike anything you would expect from the Volkswagen stable. It’s bold, imposing, and surprisingly blingy. If you spot one of these in your rear-view mirror, you’ll be forced to look again just to reconfirm it’s a VW… all thanks to the grand, chrome front grille. Look closer and you’ll appreciate the way the slats continue through the large LED headlamps. This also adds a wider stance at the front to make it far more appealing. Speaking of which, it gets futuristic IQ.Light which, most say, is the LED matrix headlamps that use the camera to control the main beam. For instance, on spotting a vehicle from the opposite direction, the system dips the LED in order not to blind the other driver. Neat.

Now coming back to the much-loved-in-India “chrome”. We drove the top-end Elegance model which came with a fair bit of bling, including a nice chrome highlight over the front wheel-arch and another electroplated strip running across the car, under the side doors. This makes the Touareg look elegant and, I am sure, will be a popular trim in India as well. Our test car came with smart 20-inch alloy wheels with top-class Pirelli tyres that offered ample grip and good looks too.

The Touareg was never a small SUV and now it has grown further. The 2019 version is longer and wider than before and although it’s not as tall as before, it still looks colossal. The seats are well-contoured and are quite comfortable. What’s interesting is that VW have steered away from the seven-seater and have stuck to the five-seat game. What this does is give exceptional legroom for passengers both in the front and rear and a boot that’s larger than an average apartment in Mumbai. There’s a significant increase in luggage capacity, from 697 litres to a humongous 810 litres… and that without even toppling down the rear seat backrest. (Also read: Volkswagen Launch India-bound New T-Cross In Europe)

Most critics will heave a sigh of relief upon seeing the refreshingly new dashboard design. Yes, again there are plenty of chrome accents, but all done very tastefully. While overall layout, sleek a-c vents, chunky gear-knob and the well-appointed cabin looks premium, a closer look will reveal that they are not as luxurious as one would have imagined. The dashboard has good quality soft-touch materials, the steering wheel feels solid and even the door arm-rest is large enough and draped in leather. However, unlike an Audi or a Bentley, there are some bits that hint at cutting costs. For instance, there is a bit of plastic, like the centre console, glove-box lid and the door-pockets don’t have a soft touch and feel built to a budget.

My favourite part of the interior design is the stunning digital display that is 27 inches of pure bliss. It’s a two-piece display where the 12-inch driver’s information screen and 15-inch infotainment system merge seamlessly to give an impression of being a massive single digital unit. The cabin looks future-ready, and how. There are hardly any physical buttons as the massive central touchscreen controls most of the car’s functions. For most parts, it’s lovely to use, except the fact that the air-conditioning needs to be managed using the touchscreen. Apart from this, the display is hard to fault and has a brilliant resolution, is quick to respond and easy to use. It is intuitive and feels just like a modern-day tablet. There is internet connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto and the 3D satellite navigation, which I especially dig. You also have the option of setting up the favourite screen as per your desire.

Driving abroad, my biggest aid was the digital cockpit which displayed all the information I needed and at a glance. Moreover, one can customize this further and get specific updates on things that matter to you. Our top-spec variant also came with a heads-up display which threw important info on the windscreen, conveniently positioned in my line of vision. And there’s night vision option, too, which makes driving in the dark safer.

I got to drive the 3.0-litre V6 diesel which makes an impressive 286 PS and comes mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic. However, Europe also gets a slightly less powerful version of the V6 which makes 231 PS and VW also have plans for a 340-PS V6 petrol and a drool-worthy V8 turbo-diesel which will produce 421 PS. There is also buzz about a new plug-in hybrid drive with 367 PS of system power in the works.

 

About the author: Sarmad Kadiri

 

 

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