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Review of 2010 Volkswagen Touareg



An ethinic tribe from Africa would be so happy to know{if at all, they come to know that is} that they share their community name with a car. And an SUV at that. The Volkswagen Touareg has derived its name from the Tuareg community in north Africa. Like its namesake community, the Touareg is suggested as an hard core SUV to the likes of Mitsubishi SUVs. Its more natural competitors are the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne. The Touareg shares its platform with the latter two. The first generation Touareg was launched in 2002. It garnered enough sales to keep the boffins at Volkswagen happy. The Volkswagen Touareg is developed on the Type 7L  platform.

Looks

Again a subjective thing, the new 2010 Touareg looks like its predecessor however there are many a distinguishing features from the older model. The radiator grille has been split and and now features a chrome strip runnning around it like the Audi’s famous goatee. It is flanked by two air dams at the side. Ordinary looking and no aggressive vibes from them. On the bumper are housed two fog lamps and at that very low. They would easily illuminate the bushes and shrubs that they are supposedly ingrained for. Viewed head on, it doesn’t give the subtleity of other Volkswagen brands. The two reflectors at the side of bumper lend it some sort of character.

The skid plate is a new feature on the 2010 Touareg. The headlamp cluster is also a new feature. It has Bi-Xenon Headlights with a very innovative Adaptive Front Lighting System to boot for. The genius of a system not only is as efficient as a halogen but it also gives a bluish white light. It very powerful and at the same time energy efficient as well. Elsewhere in the world, they are termed as cornering lights which turn as the vehicle corners. Those off-road jaunts would be all the more a pleasure with such lighting. Also, they feature heated water nozzles to clean them. If the headlamp detect a vehicle ahead, they don’t illuminate it but the area around it. This reduces the glare for oncoming vehicle drivers as also for the vehicle ahead.

The side profiles again acctenuates the undertired look that is a nemesis in this segement save for sister brand Audi’s Q7. Mind you, there is no quarter glass at the front as found in others in its class. A single crease runs across the doors connnecting from wheel to wheel. A chunky chrome strip highlights the running board.

The rear view mirrors align the turning lights into them and are electrically foldable. They are heated as well. Another innovation is when you lock the door or unlock it, a flood light from near the footwell lights up so that you know if you are placing your foot on an Anaconda or not.

Jumping over to the rear shows that the tail lamp cluster has been slightly redesigned and now has a chrome strip runnning along at the base. The glass area is slightly larger than its Audi cousin. The black bumper is a let down though and feels out of place similar to going to a red carpet welcome in hippie style. The plus point is minor dings{if the vehicle allows it}, wouldn’t be that noticeable.

The inverted tail pipes also don’t complement the look of the SUV and the ones on the Tdi look in sync with the rest of the car. The ten spoke 17 inchers also look quite subtle and upgrading to 19 inch sports wheel would give that killer look.

Interiors

Volkswagen has been always known to incorporate something special in the interiors of their cars. This makes them really special as well as justifiable for any extra premium that they charge over any other brand. Open the chunky door and a welcome airiness greets you. The dash and all other surfaces that you would usually be in touch with are made of soft and durable plastic. Surfaces less likely to be touched often too feel smooth. The expanse of gray in the cabin makes it similar looking to the BMW X5. The 2010 car does away with the ignition key system and hole. It now features a standard start-stop button on the central console. This is actually a bad place to put it since accidentally placing a finger over it would cause the vehicle to stop. The car can only be started if you press the brake pedal. The central console is lined with genuine sal tree wood and also houses the automatic transmission controls. The build quality is top notch as expected from Volkswagen.

The navigational system, which by the way is an optional item, is hard drive based. It has a big and intuitive touch screen and some crisp detailing and graphics to go with. It also gives you the option to turn the passenger air bag off.

The 2010 model is a 5 seater capacity vehicle been offered in two trims. The V6 clean diesel TDI and VR6 FSI.

Both the engine trims share a standard list of features like the polyvinyl upholstery, 3 stage-sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, 4XMOTION four-wheel drive system with low gear range, Walnut Wood Interior Trim, Silver roof rails, 12-way power driver’s seat and 8-way manual passenger seat, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Six airbags, driver and passenger front, side, and Side Curtain Protection, Remote power open, power close rear hatch, Multi-function trip computer with compass and exterior temperature display, Heated front seats, EDL, ASR, EBC alongwith four channel ABS and front and rear Park Distance Control proximity sensors.

Coming over to the seating, the front seats are supportive for long hauls and keeps one comfortable and stress free. There is enough travel for the front seats and alongwith the height and rake adjustable steering wheel, finding a comfortable driving position isn’t nary a worry.

Moving over to the rear seats, you notice the less amount of space as compared to an Audi Q7. If you slide the front seats far back, the rear seat passengers, would feel their knees rubbing against the front seats. The glaring omission though is the absence of third row of seats. This puts others in its class like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 one notch above. Giving it company is the Porsche Cayenne with only 5 seats. Cargo capacity is pegged at 31 cubic feet but this increases to 71 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat down. The Volkswagen Touareg as an entity alone would stand out however considering the competition, this is a low figure for it.

Handling and ride quality

The four spoke steering for the Touareg looks very special and similar to its Skoda brand which is prevalent in Asia and Europe. A 6 speed automatic is mated to the Diesel and gas engines. There is no manual override for the automatic versions. The steering gives a nice feel and is very direct. Unlike the BMW’s heavy steering, this one seems light at parking speeds and weighs up nicely when the speeds rise. However the 5086 lbs of kerb weight plays a dampener for the handling. The SUV feels top heavy while going around corners but the automatic locking centre differential and the low range setting help power the SUV out of any rut. Climb assist and hill descent cut in where the condition of the road or lack of it, is slippery. Compared to its cousins as well as the others in its class, exception been made of the Land Rover vehicles, it stands tall in the off-roading department.

Speaking of ride quality, it can be described as very good but too much of body roll been present. The ride can though be improved if you opt for the optional air ride suspension. There is far less wind and road noise intrusion into the cabin due to the use of high sound deadning material.

In off-roading, the name of the nomadic tribe actually suits the SUV. It will go through any situation presented to it and then crave for some more. This is bested only by more expensive SUVs and a class bigger than the Touareg.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The 2010 Touareg features the narrow-angle gasoline V6 FSI with 3.6-liter capacity. It pushes 280 hp with a not so impressive torque of 266 pound feet. The V6 Tdi on the other hand gives a low 221 hp but a thunderous 407 pound feet of torque. All this torque is accessible from as low as 2,200 Rpm.The earlier lusty V8 has been discontinued.

The gasoline motor is smooth and progressive but struggles for flat out acceleration and mountain jaunts. Even four lane overtaking also requires careful planning. This is due to its high kerb weight. The ESP can be switched off for some serious tail swinging action though.

The Tdi on the other hand delivers dollops of torque from low down. It is also quite smooth in its option and the only give away that it’s a diesel engine at work is the gruff note at idle and the Tdi badge at the rear. The Tdi easily overshadows the gas motor with its power and overtaking capabilities.

The 0 to 60 mph jaunt is dispatched in 7.5 seconds and it hits an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The optional air suspension improves both the ride and handling of the Touareg and is highly recommended. Hauling is one department where the 2010 Touareg trounces others in its class. Once properly stacked with the optional towing package, the Touareg can reportedly lug 7,750 pounds.

Fuel efficiency figures are a not so good for the V6 FSI as compared to its rivals with an EPA estimate of 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. For the TDI, it is 25% marginally better with 18 mpg in city and 25 on the highway.

Verdict

The 2010 Touareg while improving on looks from the 2009 model still doesn’t have fuel economy to boot for. The Tdi is the one to go for as it is fuel efficienct as well as masks its roots well. It also meets emission norms for more than 50 states in the US and is also much cleaner and leaner than the earlier diesel. With the SUV achieving 5 stars from the US government in crash and roll over safety, it is a very safe vehicle as well. With a Maintenance Carefree program, wherein you can get your vehicle checked for any faults and even get essential liquids topped up for free, you cannot go wrong with the Touareg. Couple that with a base price of $37,624 for the  4dr VR6 and $40,830 for the 4dr V6 TDI , its superb value for money proposition. Expect the 2012 Touareg to have a more refined engine version of the Tdi and a more potent V6 with revised styling.

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