Road Test: Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI
By Damien Tomlinson - 22/12/04
now have two things in common with Michael Schumacher.
No, it's not the women, or the money. It's that I drive fast
cars for a living, and that I've now joined Mr Schumacher
in what I like to call the "V10 Club": the exclusive
and lucky few to have steered a car sporting a V10 engine.
The only difference is that I did it not in a Ferrari, or
even a Lamborghini. And no, it wasn't in a tractor, either.
Nope, my entry into this esteemed motoring club came via Volkswagen,
in the form of its bustling twin turbo-diesel V10 Touareg.
If you're a V8 fanatic, then you haven't heard the unique
rumble of a thumping V10. And even though this one's a diesel,
you won't be disappointed. Besides, until the new BMW M5 arrives
next year, it's the only production V10 this side of a Lambo
Gallardo that average Joes can get their hands on.
This Vee-Dub is a fantastic car, an even better four wheel
drive, and has been successful in markets around the world.
Internet Touareg clubs are popping up all over the place,
where people share experiences of their off-road adventures
and chat about their sick love for this range of vehicle.
Remember, this is VW's first true off-roader, conceived in
concert with Porsche. Generally, the Touareg, according to
everything you read and hear, has gained far better acceptance
in the luxo-off-road market. But what's it like? Can it upset
the fortunes of the ever-dominant Range Rover?
Model: Touareg V10 TDI
Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic
Engine: 10-cylinder, 2-valve, 90° V10 twin
Fuel Consumption: Combined city/highway:
Safety: Dual front and side airbags, curtain
airbags front and rear, ABS brakes with brake assist
and electronic Brakeforce distribution, traction control
with ESP, hill descent and hill hold control
V10 Touareg is quite a pace setter
Those with a penchant for leather, wood, lights and buttons
will not be disappointed with the Touareg's luxurious cabin.
You are literally surrounded in the stuff in the V10.
Technophiles will be impressed by the array of gizmos adorning
the sizeable cabin too - plenty to keep the avid fiddler happy.
But this is no 7 Series BMW; those who yearn for simplicity
and functionality will work out how to use the many gadgets
Firing up the big 5.0-litre V10 is nothing too awe-inspiring
- at idle, you could mistake the sound for a Freelander.
But once you carefully reverse out of the garage, wave to
the kids and get out of sight, the Touareg is anything but
a relaxed wagon.
See that SS
you just left at the lights? He'll think twice before judging
a book by its cover again.
The only drawback with the performance available to your
right ankle with this car is that you've left a massive plume
of black unburnt diesel smoke at the lights as well.
Remember, this is a diesel, and it prefers to accelerate
at less than dragster velocity.
But hey, with about 900 kilometres worth of fuel available
to you from the 100-litre tank, you've got plenty, so give
it a shot…
Yes, the Touareg is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. Thanks
partly to fact that the range starts with a 177kW petrol V6
(plus a newly released 128kW 5-cylinder diesel) and that the
only giveaway to its potential is a subtle "V10"
chrome badge on its rear, you'll surprise many at the traffic
lights with your power, and more on the motorway as you hit
those gaps with aplomb.
The 90° V10 pumps out a healthy 230kW of power and, wait
for it, 750Nm of torque, available from 2000rpm! What
this means is that you have enough bottom end power to pull
the Queen Mary II out of the water, let alone the ski boat.
And of course leave anything you like at the lights.
Volkswagen 5.0-litre Diesel V10
vee 10-cylinder engine has a 5.0-litre (4921cc) capacity
and takes advantage of direct injection for a cleaner
burn and more power.
The engine block is constructed from cast-iron and
packs 2-valves per cylinder for a total of 20 valves,
actuated by single overhead camshafts (per cylinder
The twin turbocharged diesel engine has an 18.0:1 compression
ratio and makes use of an air-to-air intercooler, as
well as a big 100 litre fuel tank.
Max Power: 230kW @ 4000rpm
Max Torque: 750Nm @ 2000rpm
0-100km/h: 7.8 seconds
Top Speed: 225km/h
The styling of the big Touareg is easy on the eye, and bears
little semblance to its Porsche Cayenne cousin. The first
thing I noticed was that it's not a big car, at least by LandCruiser
standards. Of course, the car's height (standard: 1703mm)
is determined by the driver. Accessible via one of the many
switches in the cabin is the car's variable height adjustment,
which lets you vary the Touareg's ground clearance from 16cm
to a whopping 30cm for those tricky situations.
Of course, the system is clever enough in "auto"
mode to reduce its height at highway speeds, and increase
it in offroad situations, but in practice, it means Mrs You
can load the shopping with the same consummate ease as you
can smash through the sand dunes and traverse raging torrents.
The Touareg also features "hill hold control",
which is like ABS in reverse: the system will apply the brakes
to all wheels when you take your foot off the accelerator
when you drive up a hill. Monitoring the traction of each
wheel, the system progressively releases each wheel as you
take off again, ensuring you don't lose any ground on those
gravely bush tracks. Bravo.
The V10 variant also gains keyless entry, a la the
The driver simply walks up to the car, grabs the handle, whispers
"open sesame!" (kidding), and the door opens. Starting
the car is as simple as thumbing the big START button inside.
Inside, up to five occupants are treated to four-zone climate
control, a television and CD-stacker and comfy leather seating.
The driver also gets to be in charge of the whole thing, grip
the leather-and-wood steering wheel and exercise their right
The Touareg I drove had about 22,000 journalist kilometres
on its clock and, I must say, I wonder about the longevity
of some of the switchgear and surfaces in this car.
Although journalist kays are about twice as hard as ownership
kilometres, I experienced some noticeable groans from the
chassis under acceleration, and one of the stereo's gazillion
speakers had been pushed up into the roof by an errant finger.
A quick check on the 'Net didn't reveal that this problem
was universal, so maybe it was just this particular car.
It's the perfect scam - marry the huge performance potential
of a twin-turbo V10 with the fuel economy of modern diesel
technology, wrap it in a contemporary shell, fill it with
leather and mod-cons, and wait for the buyers to come running.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it sort of is. Although
I think $140,000 isn't that much when you consider all the
good things this car does, many will be intimidated by the
cost of admission. Sure, it's a lot of money, but those heading
to the Range Rover dealership should seriously consider testing
the Touareg and comparing notes. I loved it!
(comparable) fuel economy
a twin-turbo V10!
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