The countdown is running to the third phase of Volkswagen’s luxury segment campaign: the sporty Passat W8 and the innovative Phaeton will soon be joined by the Touareg, an exclusive off-road vehicle. Hallmarks: outstanding on-road and off-road characteristics, permanent, electronically controlled four-wheel drive, double wishbone suspension, depending on the engine fitted, full air suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers fitted as standard, high-torque engines with five, six, eight or ten cylinders, excellent comfort on long drives, and elegant and progressive interior and exterior design.
The Volkswagen Touareg will be introduced to the market in autumn 2002. Its namesake is a people in the Sahara, also known as the knights of the desert. They are famed for their traditions, pride, intelligence and dignity, and ability to adapt to difficult conditions. This name symbolises the ability of the Volkswagen off-road saloon to adapt to very different driving conditions.
With a length of 4.75 meters, a width of 1.93 meters, a height of 1.72 meters, and a wheel base of 2.86 meters, the Touareg is firmly placed in the off-roader luxury segment. The all-round specialist with a top speed of over 250 km/h is a unique vehicle. The new Volkswagen is a crossover vehicle, and will call to mind not only an off-road vehicle, but also a sporty luxury class estate car. Technically and visually, the Touareg combines the best of three worlds.
Firstly: The Touareg is a full-blooded off-road vehicle. Power is transferred to the driven wheels via a transfer box, which has off-road gear ratio reduction fitted as standard, and three locking differentials. The multi-plate clutch, fitted as standard, is automatically controlled by the running gear electronics – depending on conditions, up to 100 percent of the traction force can be transferred to either of the two axles. A rotary control switch in the cockpit can be used to activate the differential lock manually. The four-wheel EDL, fitted as standard, determines exactly in which ratios the power is distributed to the wheels. An electronically controlled rear axle differential lock with multi-plate clutch, and as part of the off-road package, a front axle lock and variable anti-roll bars, are planned for heavy off-road driving.
Short overhangs, ground clearance of up to 300 millimetres, and a wading depth of 585 millimeters provide the technical prerequisites for exceptional off-road suitability. Gradability of 100 percent and the ability to roll to 45 degrees, make the vehicle suitable for extreme off-road conditions.
Secondly: The Touareg is an agile and safe vehicle for all types of journeys. The double wishbones front and back with a noise-insulated sub-frame give the vehicle the noise level and comfort of a luxury saloon, coupled with the precision of a sporty passenger car. Pneumatic suspension and continuous damping control give the car an unprecedented level of suspension comfort – both on-road and off-road. A switch in the cockpit allows the driver to select a more sporty or a more comfortable suspension.
The fully galvanised, unitized, four-door body has extremely good stiffness, which not only comes into its own in extreme off-road conditions, but which forms the basis of the Touareg’s high level of comfort and high quality. The interior design, in the style of the Phaeton, uses a large range of high-quality equipment to underline its positioning as a luxury vehicle. Elaborate seats, a fully adjustable steering wheel, and a separate (optional) air conditioning system for the rear seat passengers (4-zone Climatronic) enable vehicle occupants to travel in comfort and luxury.
Crashworthiness and safety equipment meet the toughest specifications. The vehicle does not have an aggressive off-road design, thus paying heed to weaker road users in the event of a collision. Non metal wings and a soft aluminium bonnet show that Volkswagen is has met its responsibilities in its off-road vehicle. The high standard of passive safety includes front, side and curtain airbags, active head restrains in the front, and three-point seat belts on all seats fitted as standard.
ABS, TCS (traction control system), ESP (electronic stabilisation programme), EBC (engine braking control) and HBA (hydraulic brake assist system) are fitted as standard and give the safety level of the best passenger cars. The brake system with fixed-callipers and ventilated disc brakes provide good braking characteristics – even when the vehicle is full and its high towing capacity fully utilised. A further safety feature: if the car is fitted with pneumatic suspension, it is automatically lowered by 25 millimeters when its speed reaches 125 km/h.
Thirdly: The Touareg is a multi-functional business and leisure vehicle. The luggage compartment has a large tailgate – the window can be opened separately . Its capacity is variable in the range 555 to 1,570 liters. Its towing capacity of max. 3.5 tons makes the Touareg an ideal towing vehicle. High-torque engines, permanent four-wheel drive, with fully automatic drive train control (lock management) and off-road gear ratio reduction fitted as standard, allow the car to master extreme conditions.
At the German market launch, the Touareg will be available with a 3.2-liter V6 petrol engine and a 5.0 litre V10 TDI engine. The V6 engine has a power output of 162 kW / 220 bhp and develops up to 305 Newtonmetres of torque. The world’s most powerful passenger car diesel engine is the V10 TDI with unit injectors and bi-turbo charging. It has a power output of 230 kW / 313 bhp and develops an impressive 750 Newtonmeters of torque at 1800 rpm. Two other engines will be added to the line-up at a later date: a new five-cylinder TDI with 2.5 liters displacement and a 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine. Six-speed gearboxes are fitted as standard – the choice between automatic and manual is determined by the engine size. With the automatic gearboxes, the driver can use DSP (dynamic shift programme) the Tiptronic gear lever, or, if fitted, the steering wheel paddles, to influence gear shifting.
In summary: The Touareg, with its torsional rigid body, running gear for all conditions and four-wheel drive, has all the necessary features for best performance both on-road and off-road. Depending on conditions, it is both a sporty luxury estate car and a very tough off-road vehicle.