Why the new Touareg is the most expensive Volkswagen you can buy

Pedigree is potent in many industries. Knowing your thoroughbred was the foal of a Melbourne Cup winner or that the grapes for your Champagne were grown on the southern side of a hill in Vallée de la Marne can make all the difference.

Little wonder Volkswagen isn't shying away from the DNA that rests beneath its latest Touareg.

The so-called MLB architecture is spread far and wide across the Volkswagen Group, also used on the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7.

Rare – and rarefied – company indeed.

Tell 'em the price

Of course, being a Volkswagen the price is less shocking than those more upmarket brethren.

Although at $89,990 it's still more than most splash out for a VW – and the Touareg is the most expensive vehicle you can buy in a Volkswagen showroom; for the same money you could own four Golfs, the cars that most closely adhere to the "people's car" philosophy that created the brand.

That price of entry will come down later in 2019 with the arrival of less healthily-equipped models. Think somewhere around $75,000 as a kickoff point.

A luxury focus

Still, that's more expensive than ever for the Touareg and the third generation of Volkswagen's large SUV has a sharper luxury focus than ever before, clearly homing in on the middle ground between top-end mainstream SUVs and entry-level luxury models.

The Touareg also packs in more gear than pricier rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Advertisement

Volkswagen's own price analysis suggests that to get an X5 with similar equipment would require plumping $13,700 worth of options on top of the $112,990 starting price, for an outlay north of $126K.

Sister brand Audi fared worst, Volkswagen suggesting a Q7 with the same equipment would cost $136K.

Loading up

That's partly because the only Touareg on sale now is the 190TDI Launch Edition, which comes loaded with a fair smorgasbord of gear, including some decent big ticket gear that can cost thousands extra on rivals with a luxury badge. That includes air suspension, matrix LED headlights, four-zone ventilation and still-fresh active safety technology such as front and rear cross traffic alert with auto braking.

There's also 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, parking sensors at either end, ambient lighting, wireless phone charging and electric seats with massaging, ventilation and heating functionality.

Touchy feely

The Touareg also gets the biggest touchscreen in its class, a whopping 15.0-inch unit as part of the $8000 Innovision Package that also includes a head-up display and more advanced ambient lighting system.

Those au fait with the operation of an iPhone or iPad should have no issue acclimatising to the pinch, swipe and zoom functionality of the screen.

Combined with some basic gesture control – which intuitively displays relevant virtual buttons as your hand approaches the screen – it makes for one of the easiest touchscreens to operate, albeit one that dominates the dash.

Along with the standard 12.3-inch curved digital instrument cluster it makes for quite the visual package inside.

Still for the people

Volkswagen Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer says the brand must still focus on value.

"We always want to be the people's car, at Volkswagen that's our role. So we have to be attainable, but on the other hand we're not ever targeting just to be the cheapest out of the box," he says.

"It does represent the cutting edge in terms of the technology and what a Volkswagen can be."

More to come…

Shafer says that push upmarket will be a familiar theme in coming years, starting with the updated Passat late in 2019.

"We're probably moving the car in that direction, more premium, more luxury," he says when asked if that revised Passat will shift further upmarket. "We really do see it as more of an executive saloon place."

Living it up

Back behind the wheel of the Touareg there's little to suggest the car doesn't have the substance to match it with the luxury big boys.

The 3.0-litre V6 diesel is wonderfully smooth and quiet, the most obvious sensation being the 600Nm of torque gently shoving you back into your seat.

The intuitive eight-speed automatic helps keep things moving, allowing some higher revs when required but generally relying on the low-rev muscle that defines the engine.

The Touareg's air suspension is also a class act, providing the sort of body control that boosts comfort and confidence at speed.

Riding on sizeable 20-inch tyres the ride is also impressively compliant, at least if you leave the suspension in its Comfort or Normal settings.

Peace of mind

One area the Touareg smashes its rivals is with factory warranty protection.

Like all Volkswagen's there's five years' coverage, smashing the three years of protection offered by BMW, Merc and Audi.

That's coverage potentially worth thousands of dollars for those who consider buying an extended warranty package.

Numbers game

However, one area the Touareg is lacking is with seating. Whereas the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE are all available with a third row of seats – taking capacity to seven – the Touareg is strictly a five-seater.

That alone will rule it out for many buyers who want the additional seating capacity.

Others will also overlook the Touareg for its badge.

While it has the style and sophistication to match it with luxury players, the VW badge simply may not cut it for some.