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Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI



It would be a tough test for experienced walkers able to side-step deep ruts and leap between rocks, let alone a £50,000 car, but we decided it would be a good challenge for Volkswagen's range-topping Touareg.

Designed to combine serious off-road ability while cosseting its occupants in the lap of luxury, the Touareg is Volkswagen's first crack at this seriously badge-conscious sector of the market.


Toyota Land Cruiser Amazons and Mitsubishi Shoguns might do the business off road, but it is the Range Rover that is seen as having the classier image and this is the market Volkswagen is after.

The Touareg 5.0 V10 TDI comes with heated and electrically-adjustable leather seats, heated washer jets, airbags galore, adjustable air suspension, a differential lock and just about all the electronic gadgets needed for serious off-roading.

On-road comfort is excellent and performance is as brisk as you like with that monster engine. The six-speed automatic transmission slurs changes but is always on the ball with the right gear when you need to overtake, while the manual change facility makes life easier off-road.

But to put this Touareg into context it is worth comparing with the Range Rover. Solihull's Td6 can muster 174bhp with 288lb-ft of torque – perhaps a little short of the mark for a car weighing two- and-a-half tonnes – while the petrol V8 version offers 282bhp and 325lb-ft of torque. In a car this heavy, buckets of torque is essential.

Although there are six-cylinder petrol and diesel Touaregs, as well as V8 petrol models, this V10 diesel is of comparable price with the Range Rover Td6.

However, the figures for the Touareg make rather more startling reading. Maximum power is 309bhp while torque tops out at an astonishing 553lb-ft. In short, this 5.0-litre V10 TDI Touareg could eat the diesel Range Rover as a light snack and have the V8 as a dessert.

The southern part of The Gap is essentially a rocky track heading up into the hills, and while the Touareg was being thrown from side to side as it clambered northwards the first major test would be about two miles into the trip.

A seriously steep descent into a stream beckoned, followed by an abrupt hill on the other side with a sharp left hand bend half way up.

I joined the back of a queue of bearded off-roading types. There were five cars all fitted with mud tyres: a Land Rover Defender at the front, followed by an original Range Rover, a Suzuki Vitara and a Jimny, and a Defender at the rear.

They were interested to see how the Touareg managed in what they reckoned was not its natural habitat and waited to see the results of a predicted calamitous excursion across the stream.

With low ratio engaged the Touareg crept down to the stream, and I raised the ride height to the maximum for the upward section of the obstacle as rocks jutted out from the track all the way up.

The car seemed to collect its thoughts then with a prod on the throttle it blasted up hill as if it was horizontal. The bearded off-road type in the Range Rover seemed impressed and came over for closer scrutiny.

'Have you done this before?' he asked. 'I've been here once,' I replied. He admitted surprise that the Touareg virtually leapt up the hill on its standard road tyres, but I pointed out that 553lb-ft of torque might have evened the odds.

The second tricky feature on the route was on the downward section where the mountainside seems to protrude from the track, forming a series of large steps for a few hundred yards.

Low ratio and maximum ride height made it a doddle and prompted a round of applause from the aforementioned and now rather impressed bearded off-road types, with one of them even taking photographs of the Touareg's precarious descent.

Time will tell whether the Touareg will succeed as an alternative to cars as diverse as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, BMW X5 and the Range Rover, but in terms of all-round ability the V10 TDI can challenge the best.

Model: VW Touareg V10 TDI
Engine (cc): 4,921
Max power (bhp/rpm): 309/3,750
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 553/2,000
Max speed (mph): 140
0-62mph (sec): 7.8
Fuel consumption (mpg): 23.2
CO2 emissions (g/km): 329
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 100/22
Transmission: 6-sp auto
CAP Monitor RV: £18,500/37%
Price (OTR): £50,445

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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