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    Touareg's A Rough Diamond

    Courtesy of Auto Express:

    It's the moment of truth for Volkswagen... Has the company really got what it takes to tempt businessmen from behind the wheel of Mercedes' M-Class and the excellent Range Rover with the world's most potent off-roader?

    It might be the firm's first attempt at this unforgiving market, but VW bosses have met the challenge head on and the new Touareg would seem to have all the answers.

    The 5.0-litre V10 turbodiesel engine - capable of producing an unrivalled 750Nm of torque and a staggering 313bhp - will propel the car to 140mph. Its six-speed tiptronic gearbox offers high and low ratios while air suspension ensures it is as capable on-road as it is off. In the flesh, the Touareg is as imposing as the figures suggest - but it's not all good news.

    Despite the car's physical presence, it could be criticised for looking bland. It's certainly not the sharpest machine we have seen. The rear, in particular, looks overweight, and is spoiled by giant stop lights. It's better inside, where there's a massive amount of space in the cabin. Bags of adjustability in the driving position offers a clear view ahead.

    However, as we turned through 180 degrees to follow our test route, we noticed how the thick A-pillars reduced our peripheral vision. Squeeze the throttle pedal, and you had better make sure you are concentrating. As the engine responds, the exhausts let out a moan and the steady beat from the engine bay grows more urgent.

    The V10 is well soundproofed, and not as noisy as you may think. Idling at just over 500rpm, the engine's red line is little more than 4,000rpm. Clearly the vast engine is no screamer and takes its time to respond to throttle inputs. Not that you would sense that from the passenger seat. At full bore, the Touareg accelerates as savagely as BMW's V8 engined-X5.

    With all that performance, the engine lag may frustrate some drivers, but we feel that's a reasonable price to pay, given the Touareg's abilities in other areas. Thanks to supple suspension and grippy 225/55 section tyres, most drivers should find maintaining a steady throttle on winding roads easy. The steering is accurate, despite its four turns lock-to-lock. At the limit the 2,235kg VW understeers mildly, but it's both confidence inspiring and mechanically impressive.

    In part, this balance is also thanks to the massive adjustability in the air suspension system - which alters suspension and damper rates to suit the road. At motorway speeds, the car's ride height sits at an estate-rivalling 180mm. On bumpier tarmac, it rises to 235mm. To clear bigger objects it powers the car skywards to 300mm.

    You can also lock the suspension into its various settings. In 'Comfort' mode the car rides confidently over uneven surfaces, resisting the tug of tricky road camber angles. In 'Sport' the suspension stiffens, reducing body roll and improving high-speed stability.

    Lift the suspension to 'Off-road' mode, and there's little that will stop the Touareg. If you have the stomach for hurling the car up a mountain, it will simply bulldoze its way to the top. Its prowess is helped by its electronically controlled diff locks and clever ABS based traction control system, which applies the brakes to spinning wheels. In slippery conditions, with ability like this it's only the VW's rivals which will get left behind.

    Re: Touareg's A Rough Diamond

    German Auto, Motor & Sport testdrove the Touareg Diesel (V10, 313 HP, 750 Nm). They were very pleased with the 4WD system and the off-/onroad capabilities, especially due to the air suspension. But they didn't like the V10 Diesel engine too much. They also mentioned that the quality impression is very good, same as on the VW Phaeton.
    This would indicate a similar high quality level on the Cayenne.

    It seems that VW will sell the Touareg Diesel to the US market and they also expect to sell 65000 Touareg worldwide.
    I guess here's exactly the point where there will be the difference between the Touareg and the Cayenne: the Cayenne will be available with V8 engines only and VW might delay the introduction of the 8 cyl. 400+ HP engine to allow Porsche to sell enough cars in the first year to build up a certain (good) reputation in the SUV market.

    To me it seems to become more and more clear: the Touareg and the Cayenne are actually the same SUVs with each having a character of it's own.
    I'm also pretty sure now that we won't see a Cayenne Diesel too soon, at least not in the first or second year of production.

    Re: Touareg's A Rough Diamond

    In reply to:
    To me it seems to become more and more clear: the Touareg and the Cayenne are actually the same SUVs with each having a character of it's own.

    Then don't you think that people will realize why to pay more for Porsche if VW has the same thing (almost) for cheaper?

    Definetely yes but...

    ...I think that VW and Porsche will do a clever marketing and avoid offering models with similar engines.
    Right now, the Touareg is available with the 313 HP Diesel engine only, the Cayenne is available with a V8 and turbo charged V8 only. I don't think that the customer who's interested in a V8 would choose a Diesel or vice versa.

    I'm curious to see how far this "arrangement" goes. I bet we'll see in a year or two pretty similar engines from both and then the whole story gets very interesting.



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