Volkswagen’s range-topping Touareg large SUV is a peach in more ways than one, but do buyers really need to fork out top dollar for the 210TDI R-Line grade?
- How does the Touareg drive?
- Drivability scorecard
- How is the Touareg’s interior?
- Interior scorecard
- What are the Touareg’s running costs?
- Running costs scorecard
- The final verdict
- Overall rating
- Great ride on standard air suspension
- Torque-rich diesel V6 engine
- Top-quality interior fit and finish
- Great infotainment display
- No option for seven seats
- Downball rating impedes towing
- A touch of turbo lag
- Pricey compared to Audi Q7
From the very start, Volkswagen has been a company that has avoided double-handling at all costs. The Beetle and the Kombi were prime examples: both based on the same platform in order to reduce production costs.
This same mantra has carried through into the modern day, with the Volkswagen Group sharing platforms across multiple brands at once. The MLB Evo platform is one of its most diverse, with most VW brands selling a vehicle on it.
At the entry point of this premium food chain is the Volkswagen Touareg. Starting at around $95,000 on the road, the big VW doesn’t seem all that humble in the modern age.
This certainly isn’t the case for the range-topping 210TDI R-Line that we recently tested at Chasing Cars, which starts at around $126,000 on the road. In the Touareg 210TDI R-Line’s defence, it comes with a heap of luxury kit that’ll make it an easier pill to swallow.
As you’d expect, opting for the range-topping Touareg 210TDI R-Line means that every option in the range comes as standard.
The top-end Touareg’s feature highlights include air suspension, massive 15-inch infotainment display, and a premium sound system. Like the slightly lower-spec, luxury-focussed Touareg Elegance, the R-Line rides on 20-inch alloy wheels as opposed to the 19s that come on the 170TDI.
On the inside, the R-Line gets exclusive R-Line-appointed leather, and massaging seats with 18-way electric adjustment. The 210TDI grade was once second from the top in the Touareg line in the days when a diesel V8-powered 310TDI model existed, but now, six cylinders are as good as it gets in the big Volkswagen. Though, the plug-in hybrid Touareg R will arrive in Australia next year, bringing outputs of up to 340kW/700Nm.
But all these nicities come at quite a cost, so much so that the Touareg 210TDI R-Line eclipses the price of a base model Audi Q7.
How does the Touareg drive?
On the road, the range-topping Touareg 210TDI R-Line is a jack of all trades. The 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 beneath the bonnet is a fantastic engine that provides a mountain of torque at minimal notice.
Official outputs sit at 210kW and 600Nm, and these are enough to propel the large SUV to 100km/h in a best time of 6.2-seconds during independent testing.
In modern times, a low six-second 0-100km/h sprint doesn’t sound overly quick, but there’s no denying the serious shunt that the V6 provides.
Not only does this engine feel like it produces more than enough torque for the application, but the refinement is astounding. Even in Sport mode, the engine makes minimal noise, and never feels out of its depth.
Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Grip issues are almost non-existent with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, and the electromechanical roll stabilisation that’s standard on the R-Line.
Pair this with the 285/45 rubber at all corners, and you’re left with an extremely stable large SUV.
If I’m honest, I was skeptical about how the Touareg was going to ride on the rather large 20-inch alloy wheels. Those doubts were swept away as soon as I got behind the wheel, as the air suspension system is just so good.
As standard, both the 210TDI Touareg models get the adaptive air suspension, and this is one of the best aspects of the SUV. Of the six driving modes that the Touareg offers, most will find themselves using comfort mode more often than not.
In this mode, the SUV soaks up the harshest of imperfections on the road, and barely breaks a sweat in doing so. The changes in Normal and Eco are barely noticeable on the ride front, and in the latter, just reduces throttle response to prioritise economy.
In Sport, the suspension gets predictably stiffer, but not to a punishing degree. The Touareg retains its composure here, and any body roll that was present in the other driving roads is negated almost entirely.
The off-road driving mode is also a handy feature to have as it’ll use the air suspension to raise the ride height for maximum ground clearance.
On the handling front, the Touareg changes direction in an exceptional fashion for something that weighs over 2.1-tonnes. Steering is relatively light across the different driving modes, including Sport, where it gets a little stiffer, but not to a serious degree.
Communication with the road is almost non-existent through the electro-mechanical system, but the ratio is nice and consistent through driving modes. It’s also worth noting that the 210TDI R-Line is the only Touareg in the range to get four-wheel steering, which cuts the turning circle down by a metre.
Safety is another aspect where this Touareg shines, as all active systems are standard across the entire range. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and cross traffic assist are all bundled in.
It also gets a park assist as standard, but opting for the $5,076 Park Assist Plus package adds semi-automatic parking as well as a 360 degree camera system. The standard rear-view camera is great quality, but given the size of the Touareg, opting for the surround camera package isn’t a bad idea.
Power & performance 8.0
Ride & refinement 9.0
How is the Touareg’s interior?
The interior of the Touareg is a highlight across the entire range, but the cabin of the range-topping R-Line is almost perfect. Soft touch materials cover almost every single surface and are contrasted by aluminium panelling. There is a bit of piano black plastic surrounding the shifter and drive selector, which might not be to everyone’s taste.
Technology is something that Volkswagen hasn’t skimped on in the Touareg. At the centre of the dash sits a 15.0-inch infotainment display that’s one of the best in the segment.
With a large ‘home’ button at the bottom, this large display operates in a similar fashion to an iPad, so is extremely intuitive to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is supported here, but drivers will need to plug their devices in to get this to work.
It’s quite a surprise that a vehicle at this price point misses out on wireless smartphone mirroring tech in 2022, but the standard inclusion of a wireless phone charger somewhat makes up for it. We’d expect Volkswagen to add the full suite in the Touareg’s mid-life facelift that will arrive in the coming years.
Driving information is displayed on the 12.3-inch digital cluster that sits behind the steering wheel. Speaking of the steering wheel, this is one aspect that I didn’t love about the Touareg as it’s the updated haptic touch unit.
Though this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, drivers will likely notice themselves accidentally turning on the heated steering wheel far too often.
The standard sound system available in the Touareg has more than enough punch for most, but those looking for a more refined sound can opt for the premium Dynaudio package. This is part of the $5076 Sound and Comfort package, and features a 14 speaker system.
In terms of comfort, the leather appointed seats in the Touareg are some of the most comfortable on offer. Not only do front row occupants get 18-way electric adjustability, but there is also a massaging function with 8 different programs. These are also heated and ventilated on the range-topping R-Line.
In the second row, passengers will find themselves with plenty of room thanks to the flat bench seat, and sheer width of the Touareg. This comes with the caveat that those seated in the middle will have to straddle the large transmission tunnel. Extra head room can also be added through the inclusion of the $2583 panoramic sunroof.
Despite the Touareg sharing a platform with a handful of seven-seat SUVs, this big Volkswagen is limited to just a five-seat configuration. Behind the second row, 810-litres of space is available with the seats in place, and this figure jumps to 1800L when they’re folded.
It’s also worth noting that those looking for an overlanding 4×4 in the Touareg will be slightly let down by the fact that it makes do with an inflatable space saver wheel beneath the boot.
In terms of towing, the Touareg 210TDI R-Line is rated to 3.5-tonnes, but the downball rating of 260kg is a limiting factor here.
Layout & materials 9.0
Cabin technology 8.0
Driver comfort 9.0
Passenger space 8.0
What are the Touareg’s running costs?
When it comes to keeping the Touareg’s big diesel V6 engine going, Volkswagen claims a combined economy of 6.8L/100km.
During independent testing, we found that the Touareg averages 7L/100km. Faster back road driving returned a figure of 9.7L/100km, which is quite a bit higher than VW’s claim, but is still impressive considering its performance.
A massive selling point of this Touareg is the fact that Volkswagen Australia is offering a free five-year service plan. Without the offer, this plan would usually set buyers back $3600, and covers the SUV up to 75,000km with service intervals every 15,000km.
Along the same lines, a five-year, unlimited km warranty is also offered across the whole Volkswagen range in Australia.
Running costs scorecard
The final verdict
As a whole, the Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line is a hard vehicle to fault. Obviously it has its flaws in the fact that it can’t be optioned with seven seats, and the inflatable space saver instead of a spare. But in terms of day-to-day living, these are issues that should affect most buyers here in Australia.
The only real issue of this vehicle is its price point, considering that an Audi Q7 with similar features can be had for $2000 less.
With this in mind, I’d argue that the sweet spot of the Touareg range is the slightly lower spec 210TDI Elegance, which makes do with most of the R-Line’s kit, but costs around $10,000 less.
Standard kit on the Elegance includes things like air suspension, the 15-inch infotainment, and exactly the same turbo diesel V6 engine.
Overall rating 8.5
Running costs Great
Keyword: Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line 2023 review