The dashboard ergonomics are typically Germanic, which means minimalist and functional, which is exactly what we like.
Ride and Handling
We found the Volkswagen Touareg a pleasure to drive but due to its size it is not going to handle like a hot hatchback although, it is very competent and on our test route of empty Welsh A and B roads it was only its size that compromised our progress.
Overall, the ride is a little floppy which is noticeable over fast undulating roads, we also found that the brakes needed more of prod than we would normally expect we assume that this is down to the brake regeneration system, which seems noticeable in operation. Our test car was running on the standard 8½J x 19 ‘Everest’ alloy wheels with 265/50 R19 tyres and without dynamic air suspension which is a £2,410 option.
The Hybrid Touareg uses Volkswagen’s 4MOTION permanent four-wheel drive system with limited slip Torsen differential and electronic differential lock on all four wheels. It does have an ‘off-road’ setting which retunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road use; it activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points.
We did not venture too far off-road as the opportunity did not arise but we did use the Touareg on our local green lane and it behaved impeccably, where other SUVs that we have tested have struggled. The Touareg Hybrid has an approach angle of 22 degrees; the rear has a departure angle of 23 degrees but without a high/low ratio gearbox you not going to get too far. So if you are looking for a ‘more hard core off roader’ then you may wish to look at the 4XMOTION Touareg ‘Escape’ which is fitted with off road suspension, a centre differential lock and rear axle, mechanical differential – plus it has high and low ratio gearing which can be selected electronically.
Ease of Use
The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is equipped with keyless entry and keyless start which is always a plus – you can use the key fob to open and close the powered boot.
Getting in and out is easy as there aren’t any sills to get over but the entry height is fairly high. One thing about not having any sills is that things on the floor tend to drop out which if you have kids you need to watch out for.
The driving position is excellent and getting the ideal position is easy as both the front seats have electric 12-way adjustment and there is a memory function (3 memory positions) on the driver’s seat and door mirrors. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach but it is not electrically adjustable. The front seats are excellent and even after spending all day at the wheel we remained relaxed and comfortable. Although designed to seat five any adult middle seat rear passengers may moan. The outer rear seats have ISOFIX child seat fixings with guides, which made it very easy to fit our child seat.
The dashboard ergonomics are typically Germanic, which means minimalist and functional, which is exactly what we like. Although we found the mirror controls difficult to use, especially to fold the mirrors in. We did like the fact that the rear doors have electronic child door locks so you can decide if you want to lock/unlock the doors.
The instrument panel is very easy to read – both the speedometer and rev counter are clear and there is a TFT panel between them that displays information such as navigation directions, fuel computer information or what the hybrid system is doing, such as regeneration, charging and where the car is getting its power from.
All round vision is very good and you get a commanding view of the road ahead – although you lose objects below your line of vision (as with most tall SUV’s). We did not find parking a problem, there are audio/optical parking sensors but we feel that the Touareg needs a reversing camera as standard, which can be specified as the Area View Pack (an £880 option) and this adds all round vision via a front, rear and side camera. If we were doing a lot of towing we would definitely specify this as you can easily see to line up to trailers, etc.
The Volkswagen Touareg has a foot print of (length) 4795mm x (width) 1940mm exc. door mirrors – with a height of 1732mm which compares to the Lexus RX450h which is (l) 4770mm x (w) 1885mm x (h) 1715mm.
With the seats up there are 580 litres of luggage space, which is a bit on the tight side for a family of five’s holiday luggage, with the seats down you get 1642 litres which is quite respectable but what do you do with the kids. There isn’t any storage under the boot floor as the hybrid battery sits there so no spare wheel only a mobility kit.