If you want to get an idea as to which market is currently the most important one for Volkswagen, then all you need to do is check where the company just unveiled the latest version of its flagship SUV, the Touareg. For the first time ever, Volkswagen staged the world premiere of a new model in the People’s Republic of China, a clear nod to the significance of the country to the sales figures of the German giant.
Longer and wider than its predecessor—and packed with new technology—the third-generation Touareg makes no attempts at hiding its claim for the throne in the premium SUV segment, and rival brands will have quite a fight on their hands to prevent this handsome machine from taking the crown.
Based on the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform that it now shares with the Audi Q7 and the Bentley Bentayga, the new Touareg has managed to grow in size while at the same time weighing 106kg less than the previous version, thanks to its mixed-material construction of 48% aluminum and 52% high-tech steel. The car is 44mm wider and 77mm longer than before, with luggage capacity increased by 113L—from 697L to 810L—when the rear seats are in the upright position.
One of the most eye-catching features inside the newly designed cabin is the fully digitalized “Innovision Cockpit” that combines a 12-inch driver display with a 15-inch touchscreen to create one billboard-sized screen area for managing information, communication and entertainment. This radical new layout eradicates almost all physical buttons at the front of the cabin, with Volkswagen claiming that the new Touareg will adapt to the driver instead of the driver having to adapt to the car.
The brand also claims that the new model of the hugely successful SUV is the most technically advanced Volkswagen yet, having been given a whole collection of driver-assistance, handling and comfort systems that include thermal-imaging night vision, a semi-autonomous steering and lane-keeping system called Roadwork Lane Assist, all-wheel steering, and roll stabilization with electromechanically controlled anti-roll bars. Also notable are the LED matrix headlights made up of 128 individual LEDs each and featuring a camera to automatically control low- and high-beam lights.
Under the hood sit a number of power options that largely depend on which region a buyer resides. European drivers will get to enjoy two diesel V6 engines (231hp and 286hp) at launch, while other markets will also be able to order a 340hp petrol V6 and a 421hp turbodiesel V8. A 367hp plug-in hybrid version is currently being readied for the Chinese market, and will also be made available in Europe at a later date. Buyers may also choose from at least 13 different exterior colors, while wheel sizes range from 18 to 21 inches.
Volkswagen has sold almost one million Touareg units since the model was added to the product lineup in 2002, and this latest generation, with its sharp looks and high-tech features, should continue the SUV’s success story for the carmaker.