Road test: Power-packed Volkswagen Touareg V8 R-Line
THERE was a time I considered myself someone who enjoyed an extensive range of music. Whether it was the old crooners, the party rockers of the '60s and '70s, psychedelic pop, blood-pumping rock or even a bit of house - soft not hard - I could boogie down with the best of them, or so I thought, anyway.
But in the past five years, as the Wiggles Top 40 has launched an attack on the airwaves in the car and on the home stereo, I find, much to my dismay, I am far more familiar with the words to Crunchy Munchy Honeycakes than I am with Ellie Goulding's Burn.
Yes, it is a sad state of affairs. But even firmly ensconced in my music hell I can still appreciate the appeal of a good sound system. And the Touareg R-Line has an excellent one, indeed.
The Dynaudio 620W premium audio system with a 12-channel digital amplifier and 12 low-resonance speakers is a sublime piece of equipment offering a clear, rich, almost surround-sound quality for your listening pleasure. Even repetitive kids music takes on an almost bearable tone. The system is just one of a plethora of riches to be found in the R-Line, an exciting example of the pleasures money can bring.
If you are going to hand over $100,000 you expect a schmick interior kitted out in quality, high-grade materials and equipment - and the Touareg doesn't disappoint.
It's apparent that VW has learnt a thing or two from stablemate Audi, and soft-touch surfaces with fashionable accents and stylish extras do much to create an air of luxury. The seats are heated and electronically adjustable, with provision to save three seating preferences.
There is plenty of support with extra length under your legs and bolstering for your back and hips.
The leather does mark easily, though, so will need some help from a protective spray should you have little children.
Instruments are easy to read, buttons and dials are close to hand and the infotainment system with an eight-inch screen is a joy to navigate.
There is ample storage dotted around the cabin, big door pockets to store more goodies and at 580 litres (growing to 1642 litres with the seats down) the rear cargo area is more than adequate to deal with the essentials.
On the road
The R-Line sports a powerful 4.2-litre V8 turbo diesel engine which allows it to sprint to 100km in 5.8 seconds and puts out an incredible 800Nm of torque.
It is an exciting, thunderous machine to drive, offering performance without sacrificing comfort and a feeling of security with a lusty V8 cry rather than a diesel rattle.
It is quite nimble for its size, nicely refined with minimal road noise and a rather smooth drive despite our liking to keep it on sports mode with its stiffer suspension for most of our week.
Such is its ease of flight, whether along the highway or negotiating steep rises under load, that you will quickly get into trouble if you don't keep an eye on the speedometer.
The Touareg R-Line comes with a number of driver-assist features to help with its bulk and an excellent reverse camera with helpful guidelines to make filling even the tightest of parks a cinch.
Brakes are excellent, needing the slightest nudge to stop the two-tonne SUV in its tracks.
One of the Touareg's strengths is its 3500kg braked towing capacity and its genuine off-road capability. With a wading depth of 580mm and a departure angle of 27 degrees it will be more than handy on most family adventures. Forays into the real outback, though, where there would be no support from VW dealers, may be a little too adventurous.
What do you get?
Volkswagen delivers all the bells and whistles you would expect from a vehicle of this quality, perhaps even more.
Standard features in this top-of-the range offering include 21-inch Mallory alloys, sat-nav, Bluetooth, front and rear sensors, optical parking system, keyless entry and push-button start, stainless steel door sill plates and pedals, 12-speaker Dynaudio 620W premium audio system with 12-channel digital amp, four-zone climate control, electrically adjustable door mirrors and seats with memory settings, Bi-Xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, kerb-view reversing camera and heated steering and seat.
An impressive safety package features nine airbags, ESP with active rollover protection, ASR, EDL and EBC with off-road function with an ABS anti-lock braking system and hill-descent control and hill-hold assist. Driver-assist programs include adaptive cruise control, lane-changing assistance, proactive occupant protection system and lane- departure warning.
The SUVs in this price bracket are a select few but competition is stiff.
Chief among them is the BMW X5 M50d (from $147,500), Audi Q7 TDI quattro (from $128,900) and the Range Rover Sport SDV6 (from $113,400).
This is an SUV that has the oomph and driving prowess to keep many a family or couple happy. Safety seems a priority, which is a bonus if you have children, and the thoughtful additions like a cargo floor that lowers and raises to help loading is a sign of design forethought. It could do with a seven-seat option, though, and a second hook for the groceries in the boot.
Despite BlueMotion Technology, which includes using the energy from braking to help with increased fuel efficiency, the Touareg is a bit thirstier than you would hope for. We managed just above the official figures of 9.2 litres per 100km.
Yet that may be a price you are willing to pay. Cleverly, Volkswagen offers a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and six years or 90,000km capped price servicing. Intervals are at 15,000km with servicing ranging from $507 for the first up to $975 for the sixth.
The R-Line differs from the other Touareg models in more than badging with VW adopting a far more muscly stance.
Double oval chrome exhaust pipes, a redesigned rear bumper and a strong roof edge spoiler add to the promise of power.
What matters most
What we liked: Incredible power, torque on tap and all-round package.
What we'd like to see: Seven-seat option, better fuel economy.
Warranty and servicing: Volkswagen offers a three years unlimited-kilometre warranty and six years or 90,000km capped price servicing.
This R-Line Touareg is an exceptionally desirable SUV, one which offers great inclusions and state-of-the-art-technology in a modern luxurious package. The downside is it comes at a price. But if you have cash to spare and are in the market for an SUV, then put this one on your list.
Model: Volkswagen Touareg V8 Diesel R-Line.
Details: Four-door all-wheel drive large SUV.
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 250kW at 2000rpm and peak torque of 800Nm between 1750rpm-2750rpm.
Consumption: 9.2 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: $112,900.