New 2023 Volkswagen Touareg eHybrid review: A comfortable, powerful SUV

New 2023 Volkswagen Touareg eHybrid review: A comfortable, powerful SUV

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The Volkswagen Touareg SUV offers too much in an underrated package. The new plug-in hybrid powertrain is an excellent match for the Touareg’s relaxed driving behavior, and the Elegance specification comes with sophisticated design and an attractive price point. For those who want a top-spec SUV without the stigma of an upscale badge, the Touareg makes a compelling case.

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The Touareg is a lone ranger in Volkswagen’s lineup – a lasting relic of late VW CEO Ferdinand Piech that was designed to rival and conquer models from more luxurious brands when it was launched in 2002.

However, as Volkswagen’s SUVs have diversified over the past two decades, the Touareg retained its top status into its third generation, only getting stronger with a recent mid-life refresh.

A total of five engines are available in the facelifted model: two V6 diesels, a turbocharged V6 petrol, and two hybrids. Here we’re testing the lower-spec 375bhp PHEV, which is new to the range and promises the perfect balance between performance and efficiency.

Alongside the petrol engine, there is an electric motor that draws power from a relatively compact 14.3 kWh battery. That’s significantly smaller than rivals from Porsche and BMW, both of which are closer to 30 kWh – meaning the Volkswagen comes with a restricted electric range of 31 miles. Our test car offered 24 miles of range from a full charge.

On paper, VW quotes 128mpg and 51g/km, and these batteries will charge from empty on a 7kW charger in about 2.5 hours. If these figures seem a little off the pace compared to its rival BMW Performance is on target for this type of car, hitting 62mph in 5.9 seconds, and doing so with a thoroughly satisfying growl from under the sculpted bonnet.

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The entry-level PHEV powertrain is offered exclusively with the Elegance trim level, which sits below the sporty Black Edition model, but is still fitted with standard kit. Highlights include advanced LED headlights, a panoramic roof, leather seats and a pair of cutting-edge digital interfaces inside the cabin consisting of a very large 15-inch high-resolution touchscreen and a digital connectivity package.

The two displays are housed in a very clean and user-friendly interior, and while key functions such as air conditioning are integrated into the larger central touchscreen, they are located in a fixed section that is always accessible. The overall quality, though, is very impressive; The cabin feels nicely put together, and while most of the materials don’t feel exactly luxurious, they are certainly solid and sturdy.

The same can be said about the exterior design, which is characterized by extremely sharp lines and an invincible aura to its design and build quality. Despite all the criticism directed at some of Volkswagen’s electric IDs. Range, the Touareg is very much like Volkswagen at its best.

Interior space is decent for the class, with good leg and headroom in the second row apart from the glass roof that reduces headroom. This is a five-seat car, with no third row available, even on the options list. It leaves behind a well-shaped 810-litre boot, but rivals such as the seven-seat Volvo XC90 are bigger up there with the third row down.

One of the unique features of the lower-spec ‘Style’ PHEV model is the combination of reasonably sized 20-inch wheels and standard coil-sprung suspension. This gives the Touareg excellent shock absorption without compromising too much in terms of roadholding, which helps make it very comfortable to drive. For those interested, the Touareg is also an excellent tow vehicle, with a curb weight of up to 3,500kg. It will even go off-road with some enthusiasm.

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The plug-in powertrain brings its own luxury element to the driving experience, with near-silent operation when in EV mode and a mostly smooth transition between electric motor and combustion engine. When operating in hybrid mode, the feeling of a smooth, high-powered petrol engine comes with a cultured soundtrack, and if you keep your inputs smooth there’s almost no vibration. There’s also a smart virtual trigger point in the throttle which will alert you when you’re about to start the petrol engine – useful when you’re climbing hills or coming to a stop soon, helping to avoid unnecessary starting of the engine. However, this isn’t a sports car, so if you’re looking for a more engaging driving experience in a large luxury SUV, both BMW and Porsche strike a better balance.

It’s best to slow down, enjoy the excellent levels of improvement, and float in a bubble of calm. The relatively slow steering ratio and easy, long suspension feel are a compromise worth having for the great comfort on offer. In the luxury SUV segment, there are plenty of competitors to consider, but the Volkswagen has its own vibe, which appeals to the right type of buyer and is exactly what they’re looking for.

model: Volkswagen Touareg eHybrid 4Motion
price: £68,050
engine: 3.0L Turbo Petrol, Hybrid
Power/Torque: 375 hp / 450 Nm
moving in: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62 mph: 5.9 seconds
maximum speed: 155 mph
Economy/CO2: 128 mpg/51 g/km
For sale: now

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