Why this $150k SUV is a secret bargain
Prudent folk say you should buy the cheapest car your ego can tolerate.
If your ego can tolerate a Volkswagen badge in lieu of an Audi or Porsche, then the new Touareg V8 might be that car.
The Touareg shares its core underpinnings with the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus.
The Q7 and Bentayga share the Touareg's thumping new V8 diesel, so you could argue that VW's new halo model represents something of a bargain at $136,490 plus on-road costs, or about $148,000 drive-away. That's $29,000 less than the Audi or $200,000 less than the Bentley with the same fundamental engine, chassis and suspension.
A V8-powered Porsche Cayenne GTS costs $60,000 more than the Touareg before you factor in $25,000 in optional extras fitted as standard to the VW - impressive hardware such as active roll bars, rear-wheel-steering and a night-vision camera.
The top Touareg is packed with equipment, including heated and cooled seats that massage you on long drives, a head-up display, clever matrix LED headlights that shield oncoming cars from your high-beams, a 12.3-inch digital dash and enormous 15-inch central display. Add to that premium hi-fi, mood lighting, four-zone climate control, a 360 degree camera and VW's latest active safety tech.
Unlike its sister brands, Volkswagen backs its contender with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. The only options are metallic paint ($2100), a glass roof ($3000) and prepaid servicing ($3100 for five years).
You can save money by choosing cheaper V6 diesel versions with 170kW/500Nm or 210kW/600Nm motors priced from about $90,000 drive-away.
But you'll miss the star attraction of the Touareg V8 R-Line, a twin-turbo diesel engine with 310kW of power and 900Nm of torque - enough to reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
Effortlessly muscular, the motor combines with an eight-speed auto to bring fuss free progress in every environment. Quiet around town, the big donk is smooth and distant on highways and country lanes.
Running changes to the Touareg range saw the introduction of a bigger 90-litre fuel tank claiming about 1200 kilometres of range thanks to 7.5L/100km economy.
It also has new capacitive-touch surfaces on the flat-bottomed steering wheel. You swipe across glassy surfaces to adjust the stereo volume or cruise control speed.
The leather feels first-rate, dashboard plastics are leagues beyond cheaper Volkswagens and electric seats can tailor the length and width of the seat cushion and side bolsters to accommodate most drivers.
Classy air suspension maintains its composure on rough surfaces, and hi-tech solutions for the roll bars and rear-wheel-steering make the 2.3-tonne Touareg feel smaller than it should when cornering. It's not as sporting as Audi's vocal SQ7 or the Cayenne, but it is fun to drive and arguably more refined.
Folks who need tech, refinement and punch without the bragging rights of a prestige badge will find a bargain in Volkswagen's Touareg V8 R-Line.
VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG V8 TDI R-LINE VITALS
Price: About $148,000 drive-away
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 turbo diesel, 310kW/900Nm
Warranty/servicing: 5-yr/unl'td km, $3100 for 5 years
Safety: 5 stars, 8 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert
Cargo: 810 litres
Originally published as Why this $150k SUV is a secret bargain