Judged purely on its towing ability, the latest Volkswagen Touareg is up with the very best big 4x4s. It’s speed and stability are very impressive.
Speed comes courtesy of the 258bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. Even pulling a big twin-axle Swift caravan, the Touareg can go from 30-60mph in just 9.8 seconds.
Once up to the legal limit, the VW Touareg gave the impression it would happily stay there all day. Only once well beyond 60mph did any of our test drivers notice the caravan moving slightly. When slowing down from high speeds the caravan’s Al-Ko ATC sensors showed excellent stability. The Touareg blitzed the lane-change test, too, changing direction hard and fast and inspiring confidence in the driver.
The big VW was just as poised on the brakes. Stopping from 30mph needed just 10.8 metres on a dry test track, stopping straight and true with almost no shunting from the tourer.
Our hill-start test was easy for the Touareg. Both the ‘auto hold’ function and the electronic handbrake held car and caravan still on the 1-in-6 slope, and towing to the top needed just a gentle squeeze on the throttle.
The Escape model we tested has raised suspension for more serious off-roading, and was fitted with the optional air suspension (£2190) which gives drivers the choice of sport, normal and comfort settings. It’s an effective system, although most drivers will probably find the normal setting strikes the right compromise most of the time.
With its self-levelling suspension, trailer stability system and reversing camera, our practicality judges were able to put big ticks next to most of the features they look for in a practical tow car. The big boot was another plus.
However, the five-seat Touareg isn’t as spacious or flexible as the seven-seat Land Rover Discovery, and future resale values aren’t expected to be as strong as the Land Rover’s.