VW Touareg – a girls view

I always enjoy getting behind the steering wheel of a brand-new car so add to that a make and model that I have never driven, and it becomes even better.

The VW Touareg is a far cry from the old ‘Beetle’ that I used to be an occasional passenger in during my student days. This car is big, powerful and with all sorts of extras that my current car doesn’t have.

Driving one around for a week was a pleasure, both around Auckland and on a day trip to Tauranga.

Looks
With its sleek linear design, the Touareg has an air of elegance and sophistication. People looked – that’s always a good sign, and when your neighbour who owns a BMW comes across the road to have a look then you know VW have got it right.

Interior
Comfort is the first word that comes to mind with plenty of space and functionality.  Getting into a car for the first time, having that little wiggle to make sure you’re in the best position is satisfying and with electronically adjustable seats and memory settings it was so easy to quickly get the seat into the best position for me after my husband had been driving.

We do a lot of work from our car as we drive around to courses, tournaments and appointments – it’s almost an extra office space so various functions that are not available in all cars are important.

The wide screen is clear and easy to use whether it be by touch, gesture or voice. As well as the central screen you can get the information you want displayed in the digital instrument cluster – even the map when using the navigation system. It’s worthwhile having a play to see what suits you best. Using a head-up display was a new experience for me but once I got used to not having to look away from the windscreen it was very helpful.

Connecting a smart phone was simple and the memory took all my contacts – something that doesn’t always happen! If you enjoy listening to the radio or some music as you travel you will not be disappointed with the sound system.

The large central storage area meant we could tuck away all the things we carry around with us and the leg room for the rear seats meant that even a tall person would be comfortable.

Large rear storage compartment with room for lots more than just the golf clubs.

For carrying golf gear the rear storage compartment was perfect. Not only could we easily fit in a couple of sets of golf clubs but we could have stopped and done some shopping on the way home and fitted that in as well. What was even better was the ‘Easy open and close’ function on the boot lid – great for someone who has to stretch to close the boot.

I only had one slight niggle but that was because I hadn’t familiarized myself completely with all the features before I first drove the car. I took an elderly person with limited mobility out and it took a while to get her into a position so she was able to get into the front passenger seat. I discovered after the trip that the car can be lowered by as much as 50mm from the standard level to make loading and unloading easier. That was a lesson on making sure you read the manual! There are so many features that it pays to keep going back to the manual so that you can get the most out of them.

The Drive
What can I say; comfortable, easy to drive, quiet, smooth, responsive – how many more superlatives are there.

The all-wheel-steering means the turning circle compares favourably with smaller cars so driving around the city and parking was no problem. Autonomous driving is in no way a feature but there are driver assistance systems to help you, whether it be the traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control (allows you to select a maximum speed helping you to adhere to it), parking assist. All of course work within the limits of the system and don’t replace an attentive driver but they certainly do help.

Driving at night was a whole new experience. The LED Matrix headlights meant that I wasn’t creating glare for oncoming traffic but the road ahead was still well lit.

Night Vision gives a whole new dimension to driving on poorly lit roads at night.

Inside the ambient lighting meant that there was enough light to see where things were without fumbling. The Night Vision was another feature new to me. The thermal image camera integrated in the front of the car registers infrared radiation from a living organism. It won’t detect things in well-lit areas but when you are in poorly lit areas it makes a huge difference helping to minimize potentially dangerous situations – again though, it is not a replacement for attentive driving.

Going on a long trip? – the ‘Rest Assist’ driver fatigue detection is a nice touch and gives me yet another reason to stop for coffee. The system monitors how you’re driving along with the length of time you have been driving and lets you know via a message on the screen if it is time for you to have a rest – and a coffee.

Something that is becoming more important for people these days is how economical a car is. The turbodiesel engine of the Touareg we drove was very economical – always a plus as fuel prices keep rising across the country.

Verdict
This third generation of the Touareg is very worthy of its VW flagship status. It’s a powerful and modern SUV that has plenty of technology, or as TopGear describes it ‘the thinking person’s large SUV’. It certainly holds its own against its other more expensive rivals and is a pleasure to drive.  

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