Web Spin: Volkswagen Touareg R5 TDI

Not a Love Bug

Test Vehicle: Volkswagen Touareg R5 TDI

• 2.5-litre, double overhead cam, 20-valve turbocharged diesel five-cylinder
• Six-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive.
• 4 wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS
• 3 years/100,000 km warranty
• $69,900 ($78,600 for Luxury)

Close your eyes and think of Volkswagen. Chances are you can conjure images of Herbie The Love Bug and sun, surf and ‘crazy daisies’ in your hand-painted Combi. Of all the car brands out there, Volkswagen would have to be the embodiment of the personality brand, something quite unusual for the German psyche.

1942 VW Beetle 4WDBefore the Second World War, and under direct orders from der Führer, the brilliant Dr Ferdinand Porsche set about producing the first “Volkswagen”, or “people’s car”. The rest, as they say, is history. Over the succeeding years, VW’s relationship with its parent brand, Porsche, has continued. The venerable Porsche 911, some would say, is just a souped up “beetle” with its rear-mounted, horizontally opposed, aircooled engine.

Similarly, when VW and Porsche looked at launching into the burgeoning luxury SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) market, they got their collective heads together again. Porsche broke first with their ultra-indulgent Cayenne, a 4.5 litre V8, twin turbo monster that shocked Porsche purists in 2002 as the brand’s first four-door vehicle – and a vulgar 4WD too boot! VW followed meekly in Porsche’s considerable wake with their more practical Touareg, modestly powered by a smooth 3.2 petrol V6. The furore over Porsche’s decision to market a 4WD is for another article, but under the skin, both vehicles are remarkably similar, sharing many engineering designs and production components.

Since the Touareg’s initial launch in 2003, the vehicle has garnered a vast array of awards and accolades, certainly vindicating the designers, if spurning somewhat the Porsche marketeers. The Touareg range began with three powerplants; the modest yet practical 3.2 V6, the impressively powered 4.2 litre V8 and the awesome 5.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V10 diesel. Pricing for the Touareg began at less than $70,000 for a truly high-end 4WD and the critics loved it.

Volkswagen Australia promised a smaller diesel would follow. They made good that promise in 2004 when the R5 TDI rolled out under the catch-phrase “Affordable, Economical, Luxurious”. Still under $70k, the new oil-fired Touareg delivered all the refinement of the superb German chassis and engineering, yet the little diesel stoked a whopping 400Nm of torque – right up there with the 4.2 litre petrol V8.

OUTthere drove a brand new, showroom standard 3.2 litre V6 Touareg to the very tip of Cape York last year and backed that up with a highway tour in the new R5 TDI just recently. Already sold on the refined offroad capability of the chassis and running gear, we were keen to experience the new little sibling in the proud Touareg family.

Not surprisingly, the first thing any driver will notice is the loss of “kick butt” power in a small diesel. With 128kW (delivered at 3500 rpm) in a 2235kg chassis, you’re not going to scare any of the neighbourhood hoons. However, VW’s latest generation 5 cylinder diesel doesn’t add the weight you might expect thanks to an aluminium block and plasma coated cylinder walls that do away with heavy cast iron liners. Germans have been mucking about with diesel engines since they were invented (by a German) in 1892, so you’d expect them to be driving the development of this eminently practical engine type.

Given the expected modest acceleration for a diesel of this size, you can still enjoy a spirited highway drive and not feel as if you’re the one holding up the traffic, although the little engine is noticeably noisier than her petrol-powered kin. The new diesel, unsurprisingly, delivers the best fuel economy in the range with a manufacturer’s combined rating of 10.1 L/100km. Careful country driving will easily deliver economy figures in the 8s.

Stacked up against the other European 4WDs like the BMW X5 and Mercedes, finicky drivers will find some ride and handling shortcomings that are in line with the greatly reduced price tag, but it still retains all the curbside allure of the chunky German SUV that had you reading this far.

So if you’ve yearned for the sparkle of the smart Touareg, but recoiled at the price tag and running costs of the big guys, then the new baby diesel might just win you over. Find another ten grand and you get the luxury model with leather and wood inlays.

Options available in range:

• Parking sensors
• Rear diff lock
• Satellite navigation system
• Metallic paint
• Electric sunroof

Report by Rod Eime.

 

 

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buy a used or new hyundai terracan from a fctory dealer in great condition. It's a four wheel drive or 4wd for use off road or in the outback.