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Long-term Test: Volkswagen Touareg V6 3.0 TDI - Great, but not perfect

words - Mike Sinclair
Long-term tests offer the opportunity to judge a car once the honeymoon period is over

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Long-term Test
Volkswagen Touareg V6 3.0 TDI

Touareg at 10K
Fuelling Around
Tow Test
Taking Delivery

The car industry and the automotive media have never been busier. In the current accelerated tempo of the new car marketplace, it's not uncommon to test drive a different model of the latest and greatest every day of some weeks.

What we report on, by necessity, is our first impressions. These are tempered with experience, and supplemented by huge amounts of data (from the manufacturers), but they are first impressions nonetheless.

That's one of the reasons long-term tests are valuable. They give us the opportunity to live with a car and give you feedback on what works and what doesn't work in the real world -- a view of what a vehicle is like after the honeymoon period of initial ownership has ended.

This is also one of the reasons some carmakers are not big fans of long-term tests. They reason the extended period allows testers time to 'fall out of love' with the car(s).

So have we fallen out of love with our long-term Volkswagen Touareg yet?

The short answer is, no. Far from it... Indeed, for all the big SUV's initial appeal and good looks, the Reggie is one of those vehicles that continues to impress with strong core values after the initial gloss has worn off.

We like the VW's well-executed understated looks and clean, fuss-free interior. We love the torquey, yet economical powertrain. Its handling is more wieldy than a big SUV should be. Overall, it's a great package.

That doesn't mean it's perfect, however.

So, consider this update a nitpick session. We'll talk more about what we like about the car in future updates. It's what we don't we like that we'll concentrate on here.

Origami it ain't
For a vehicle that many will purchase for its load capacity, stowing the Touareg's rear seats is harder than it should be. When rival manufactures are talking about one-touch tilt and tumble operations (and even electric stowage) for their third and second rows, it takes too many steps to fold the Touareg's second-row away.

As our picture series hereabout indicates, the whole process is fiddly. The rear headrests must be removed -- a process that requires three hands and once the squab is part-folded. To further complicate the process, the fold itself needs to take place after the rear seat cushion has been lifted and folded forward.

Start the whole operation in the wrong order and you'll need to return to Go and do not collect $200.

Then once the seats are stowed, you must also remove the luggage blind and cargo net if you're to use the full height of the luggage space. This is not a fault per se, but be aware that both these items are heavy and those smaller of stature will struggle to handle them at arm's length. You'll need to climb onboard to easily handle them. They also need to be stowed outside the car -- an arrangement not unique to VW.

After you've worked through the process once (or perhaps three times), the traps for young players can be filed away and shouldn't be an issue. At least for your efforts you're rewarded with a high and wide load space that will swallow a mountain of gear.

Going against the grain
The whole of the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) has an enviable reputation for build quality. Overall our Touareg is a fine example of a well-built VAG product. (In Slovakia, not the Czech Republic, as yours truly incorrectly stated much to the ire of our readers with surnames sans vowels)

Externally, the Touareg's chrome is deep and the metallic silver paint has a depth to it that seems absent in most new cars. The alloys are well finished with a clear coat and design that makes cleaning easy. When the car does get a wash (remember when we could wash one at home, kiddies?) it comes up like new.

Inside, our nav-free dash is rather plain, but we like the solid, quality feel to the switchgear. So too, the seats, leather door pulls and the dash surfacing, with its hide-like graining.

It takes some familiarity (like all cars) but everything's logically laid out -- except maybe for the location of the ignition which is to the left of the steering wheel. We're still getting used to that...

All of which makes the mismatch of woodgrain on the centre console irritate even more. At first the writer thought it was a trick of the light (and it's hard to photograph) but there's a definite mismatch in the grain and colouring of the timber accents on the centre console.

The offending piece is actually a sliding section that covers the ashtray. In addition to being a lighter coloured, more open-grained timber, it adds insult to injury by regularly jamming in use. If we'd paid $80,000 plus on-roads we'd be pretty annoyed.

Sight for sore eyes
Our final criticism (for the time being) is one that's waxed and waned already during our time with the Touareg -- visibility... Out of the vehicle, that is.

Various members of the Carsales Network team have commented on the sightlines the Touareg affords. Comments from the team note less-than-perfect rear three-quarter vision and issues with the A-pillar side mirror combination on sight lines at intersections and on windy roads. Of these perhaps the intrusiveness of the A-pillar and mirror combo is the most problematic in day-to-day driving.

The criticism doesn't seem to follow any consistency related to body size or shape, so it appears to be more a personal observation than design issue. We'll keep a watching brief...

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Also read:
Touareg at 10K
Fuelling Around
Tow Test
Taking Delivery

discount new cars » Get the best price on a new Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI


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Published : Friday, 1 February 2008

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