Revamped VW Touareg Won’t Be Sold in North America

Volkswagen’s ongoing realignment of North American operations, with a greater emphasis on volume segments with new models such as the 7-seat Atlas, means the Touareg no longer will be sold in the U.S.

Greg Kable

March 29, 2018

5 Min Read
Touareg one of 19 SUVs Volkswagen plans to have on market by end of 2020
Touareg one of 19 SUVs Volkswagen plans to have on market by end of 2020.

BEIJING – Volkswagen bills its new Touareg as “the biggest leap forward in the history of the SUV” as it strives to position it farther up-market from its 7-year-old predecessor in a segment traditionally dominated by the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90.

The third-generation model, unveiled at a media presentation here, has been comprehensively redesigned and re-engineered for 2018. However, Volkswagen’s ongoing realignment of its North American operations, with a greater emphasis on volume segments with new models such as the 7-seat Atlas, means the 5-seat Touareg no longer will be sold in the U.S.

Together with technological features that VW says serve to make the new Touareg its most advanced series-production model yet, it also is claimed to offer a more on-road-focused character in line with studies that reveal customers rarely head off-road.

This is reflected in its exterior styling, advanced new chassis featuring 4-wheel steering and a first-ever anti-roll system, as well a new interior that debuts the German automaker’s new Innovision Cockpit control system featuring a curved 15-in. (38-cm) touchscreen display.

“It sets a benchmark at the top of the automotive world,” VW Chairman Herbert Diess says at the launch of the new Touareg. “It shows what Volkswagen can do in terms of design, technology and innovation.”

The more up-market positioning for the new model, which is planned to go on sale later this year in China and other markets, including Europe, comes as the high-riding 5-seat SUV succeeds the discontinued Phaeton at the very top of the VW lineup with larger dimensions, more room, new connectivity solutions and added luxury features.

Significantly, the ʼ18-model-year Touareg is the first to be developed with a clear focus on China, which in recent years has become its largest market in terms of sales volume on the back of rapid growth of SUV models of all sizes.

According to Diess, the SUV segment accounted for just 8% of the Chinese market in 2007. Ten years later, it accounted for 45% of all car sales there. “Nowhere in the world have we seen such explosive growth in SUV demand” as in China, he tells WardsAuto.

A sister model to the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentagya, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne – alongside which the new Touareg is being assembled at VW’s SUV plant in Bratislava, Slovakia – it is among 19 SUV models the automaker plans for sale by the end of 2020.

VW Eyeing BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes

VW believes its latest model will retain Touareg faithful and increase conquest sales from other premium-brand automakers including BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Emphasis has been made in leveraging the high-end functions and technology already seen on the Q7, Bentayga, Urus and Cayenne as Volkswagen attempts to give it a more exclusive slant.

The new VW is based on a heavily revised MLB platform as used by its Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche siblings. As with the earlier MLB structure that underpinned its predecessor, it uses a steel monocoque design. Greater use of hot-formed high-strength steel is claimed to have improved rigidity while containing weight despite the overall increase in size.

The new Touareg’s styling is inspired by the T-Prime Concept GTE first revealed at the 2016 Beijing auto show. A bolder exterior design, dominated by a heavily structured grille similar in style to that used by the Aerton, aims to provide VW’s flagship SUV with greater presence than before. It also features tauter surfacing treatment, more heavily defined feature lines and larger wheelhouses – the latter fitted with 18-in. wheels as standard for the first time.

VW design boss Klaus Bischoff describes the new Touareg as an alternative to the establishment. “The design makes it unmistakably clear that it is the dominant flagship of the brand – a large and exclusive SUV from Volkswagen,” he says.

Dimensionally, the new Touareg has grown. Length is up 3.0 ins. (76 mm) and width increases 1.7 ins. (43 mm) at a respective 192.0 ins. (4,877 mm) and 78.1 ins. (1,984 mm). A lower ride height for what VW describes as improved aerodynamic efficiency and greater on-road refinement also makes it 0.3 ins. (8 mm) lower than before at 70.6 ins. (1,793 mm).

As with the exterior, the new Touareg receives a heavily redesigned interior with higher-grade materials than those found in its 7-year-old predecessor. In addition to the 15-in. centrally mounted touchscreen infotainment display, an optional 12-in. (30-cm) digital instrument display and new head-up display form part of a comprehensive range of new functions included in Volkswagen’s so-called Innovision Cockpit.

The customizable infotainment display provides controls for functions including air conditioning, seat heating and seat massage. A few analog controls remain, although most controls now are touch-based.

The Touareg offers the most comprehensive range of driver-assistance systems ever offered on a VW model. Highlights include a new night-vision system equipped with a thermal-imaging camera as well as an autonomous driving system allowing semi-automated steering and lane-keeping functions for up to 30 seconds, together with automatic acceleration and braking capabilities up to 37 mph (60 km/h).

In markets outside China, the new Touareg will be offered with just one initial engine when sales begin later this year. The turbocharged 3.0L V-6 TDI offers two states of tune with either 228 hp and 369 lb.-ft. (500 Nm) of torque or 282 hp and 443 lb.-ft. (601 Nm).

Also planned, but not available until later this year, is a turbocharged 3.0L V-6 gasoline engine developing 335 hp and 332 lb.-ft. (450 Nm) of torque in the 3.0 TSI as well as a turbocharged 4.0L V-8 diesel with 416 hp and 664 lb.-ft. (900 Nm) in the 4.0 TDI.

The automaker plans to provide the new Touareg with a plug-in hybrid system. It combines a turbocharged 3.0L V-6 gasoline engine with an electric motor, though final details to the electrified powertrain are yet to be made official.

All engines come mated to a standard 8-speed automatic gearbox. It operates in combination with a center differential that provides permanent all-wheel drive in a system dubbed 4Motion Active Control. It is programmed to send up to 70% of drive to the front wheels, with 80% able to be sent to the rear wheels depending on prevailing traction.

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