Driving report VW Touareg V8 TDI: The last bull: eight cylinders, one diesel, no heart for small cars
A fat SUV and also an eight-cylinder diesel engine? Welcome to the VW Touareg V8 TDI – a car that SUV haters are likely to get nervous about. Jens Meiners from GT Spirit is still fascinated. Especially from the drive.
When Audi presented the Q7, another brand was reportedly not at all pleased: Porsche. At that time, the Zuffenhausen-based company was not yet part of the Volkswagen empire. And the fact that there would now be another model on the jointly developed platform in addition to the Cayenne sister model, the Volkswagen Touareg, did not please Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking at all. They feared the premium competition.
Today in Zuffenhausen customers are given voluntarily. Not only at Audi, but above all at Volkswagen (by the way also at BMW, as we are told from there) they are currently looking forward to an influx of former Cayenne owners. The reason: shortly before the launch, Porsche crushed the planned variants with six and eight-cylinder diesel. These customers, it is noted attentively, are switching to the competition’s diesel engines in not inconsiderable numbers. At VW, for example, the V6 TDI with 170 kW / 231 PS or 210 kW / 286 PS has so far been attractive.
But now there is a much stronger argument for looking north: the Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI. This new top model gets an impressive 310 kW / 421 PS from a smooth four liters of displacement. Even more impressive is the maximum torque of 900 Nm, which is already available just above idling speed. This makes this diesel engine the Touareg with the highest torque of all time, even stronger than the former top models Touareg V10 TDI and Touareg W12, with which Volkswagen turned the hierarchy in the premium segment upside down in the Piëch era.
Almost 270 km / h would be possible
The much-maligned diesel concept in this off-road vehicle shows what it is made of: Less than 5 seconds pass before the 2.3-ton Touareg reaches the 100 km / h mark, and the huge torque wave is artificially limited at 250 km / h . Without the automatic brake, the Touareg V8 TDI would achieve exactly 269.8 km / h.
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All of this happens almost silently: While other off-road vehicles in this performance class exude rustic flair with artificially generated engine sounds, this Volkswagen remains acoustically discreet in the background. You wear the fur inside, as a VW spokesman put it politically incorrectly.
Touareg wears the fur inside
On the other hand, the drinking behavior of this SUV is politically correct: the top Touareg consumes just 7.4 liters per 100 kilometers in the demanding cycle, and it is not a problem to achieve this value in practice. And even those who let go of the reins on the autobahn will find it difficult to significantly exceed 10 liters.
Anyone who drives at a similar speed with a powerful gasoline engine likes to consume twice as much. This also applies to the highly praised plug-in hybrids, whose consumption advantage when crawling in the city turns into a veritable penalty on long journeys. Incidentally, a remarkable experience is the practically instantaneous response, for which the ingenious biturbo charging is responsible. It contrasts conspicuously with the single-turbo V6 TDI, which has considerable deficits here, even if – as in the S models from Audi – an electric compressor is also installed.
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Electric compressor on board
This compressor is also used in other variants of the V8 TDI, namely the Audi SQ7 TDI and SQ8 TDI as well as the Bentley Bentayga Diesel. In our experience with the Touareg, the V8 TDI does not need this additional unit. The very good responsiveness in both V8 variants is hardly distinguishable.
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The software goes a long way
An eight-speed automatic converter takes care of the power transmission to all four wheels, the tensile load is 3.5 tons. When off-road, the electronics manage to get the Touareg through the most impassable terrain, with lightning-fast intervention in the drive and brakes.
In order to take full advantage of these capabilities, however, the off-road package must be specified, a relatively cheap option that is purely software-based. A transfer case would bring another decisive leap here; The fact that VW stopped the development relatively early in the process cannot be blamed for the engineers, given the low installation rates in the past.
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After all, the ground clearance can be increased by a further 70 millimeters using air suspension. And the optional stabilizers, which can be electrically rotated as part of the relatively expensive adaptive chassis for successfully suppressing the tendency to roll, are automatically decoupled in the field. At the same time, the rear-axle steering included in the adaptive chassis ensures more driving stability at higher speeds by turning in the same direction, while on the other hand, in off-road terrain and in the city, by turning in the opposite direction, it ensures greater maneuverability. That works very well, and so the sweeping SUV is surprisingly easy to control.
The fact that the Touareg is positioned high up among the SUVs can also be felt in the interior, especially when the generously glazed Innovision cockpit is ordered. In this form, it should actually be included in the Phaeton, which was ultimately deleted. The designers should, however, revise the graphics again and perhaps take a look at the S and RS models from Audi.
The car lacks some luxury options
Incidentally, we are missing luxury options such as rear individual seats or an Alcantara headliner, which would actually look very good on the Touareg and which can easily be justified from the model’s history. In return, the Touareg offers one of the best hi-fi systems with the optional Dynaudio system; it puts the competitive systems in the shade and is a real unique selling point for the connoisseur.
The Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI is in the price list from 89,825 euros, and with a few options – whereby the matrix LED headlights are also recommended – it is well into the six-figure range. Nevertheless, we would recommend an extensive test drive in this super-diesel to the decision-makers in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
Jens Meiner, GT Spirit