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Road Test

Volkswagen Touareg R50

by Stephen Walker

11th September, 2008

Volkswagen Touareg R50 
Location: between Bacchus Marsh and Melton, Victoria 
Image copyright: Next Car Pty Ltd 
Click on the image for a larger view

My description of Volkswagen's amazing Touareg is simple .... it's an over achiever if ever there was an over achiever. And there are many reasons for this view, which we'll cover during this report and subsequent Touareg reports.

With the recent local release of the new Touareg R50, VW has raised the stakes even further for luxury SUVs and 4x4s. The Volkswagen Touareg R50 has great attraction to all those who enjoy effortless power, for example. That's because the existing 230 kW and 750 Nm from the V10 bi-turbo TDI are already more than sufficient. But the R50 rates at 258 kW and 850 Nm. Yes, that is 850 Nm of torque. It's an amazing figure and it is a figure that provides absolute delight to those with a right foot fortunate enough to seize the opportunity to control it. Be assured, with 850 Nm readily available (at just 2,000 rpm), there is every prospect that every drive will change the way you'll consider the chore of driving. Fact is, motoring is not a chore when you're driving the Touareg R50. Indeed, there isn't even the prospect of considering the pleasure of motoring as anything other than absolute pleasure when you're in charge of the VW Touareg R50.

Our Touareg R50 test vehicle proved, just as previous Touaregs have indicated .... that VW's first SUV was made right from the very beginning. It is quite difficult to suggest how the VW Touareg could be made better. It is that good!

The R50 is attractive, just like the other 'R' models in the VW line-up. To set the Touareg R50 apart from other Touareg models, Volkswagen have included numerous features. For example, a body kit (with front and rear bumpers in R sports design including a lower bumper air intake with chrome trim, body side lower sill extensions, wheel arch extensions), dual chrome oval exhaust tailpipes and R50 badges front and rear, rear side windows and rear window privacy glass, chrome roof rails, alloy wheels (Omanyt) 21 x 10 with 295/35 R21 tyres, tyre mobility set (includes 12-volt compressor and tyre sealant), engine spin/brushed aluminium inserts in dashboard, console and doors, electrically adjustable front R style sports seats with 12-way adjustment and 3 position memory function, individually heated outer rear seats, rear seat load through provision with ski sack, tiptronic gearshift paddles mounted behind the steering column, and metallic/pearl effect paint.

Our Managing Editor, Stephen Walker, with the Volkswagen Touareg R50  
Image copyright: Next Car Pty Ltd 
Click on the image for a larger view

Then there are features which are included with all V10 Touaregs, such as air suspension (very effective), front fog lights, keyless access system with engine start button (no need to push the unlock button on the remote and no need to insert an ignition key), tyre pressure monitoring system, 4 zone climate control dual air conditioning, bi-xenon headlights for high/low beams with cornering lights, automatic self levelling headlights with cleaning system, Volkswagen sound package 8 channel amplifier with 11 speakers and an antenna mounted in side rear window, electrically adjustable exterior rear view mirrors with memory function that are 'foldable' and heated, passenger's side external rear view mirror automatically 'dips' to provide a curbside view when reversing, and electric height/reach adjustable steering wheel with memory and easy entry function (works well).

Anthracite Napa Leather is standard with the Touareg R50.

Colour choices are limited to just four. There's Biscay Blue Pearl Effect (as on the test car), Black Magic Pearl Effect, Silver and White. Selecting the colour white forces the purchase of the optional sunroof.

On the road, as previously indicated, the VW Touareg R50 delights the driver with each kilometre travelled. The powerful performance is very impressive. And the air suspension works a treat. The on-road dynamics are fully satisfying.

Off the road, the Volkswagen Touareg R50 takes as good as it gives! I had the 'angle meter' showing 30 degrees for a short moment, as I positioned the car for some photography. Yet the test car was fitted with 'road tyres'. But with so much torque, it seems the Touareg will go just about anywhere, providing due precaution is part of the picture.

The inside story is equally impressive. The comfort level is very high. The leather trim looks good and feels good. The roomy interior is superbly presented. The luxury appointments are very comforting. The test car was fitted with Volkswagen's excessively user-friendly satellite navigation system. Another option fitted to the test R50 was a sunroof. Whilst it certain that some folks enjoy a sunroof, I'm not one of them.

The price (recommended retail) for the Touareg R50 is from $129,990 (without options). At this price, the Volkswagen Touareg R50 is well above the budget for most car buyers. But for those with a cash flow that reflects a high degree of financial success, the Touareg R50 provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy motoring with ease. That, by the way, is a high degree of ease.

Volkswagen Touareg R50 
Location: between Bacchus Marsh and Melton, Victoria 
Image copyright: Next Car Pty Ltd 
Click on the image for a larger view

Our drive programme covered some 281 kilometres around Melbourne and Bacchus Marsh in Victoria, a much shorter distance than usual. But none the less, the VW Touareg demonstrated that it, once again, delivers an outstanding drive. The new R50 version simply highlights the added benefits of power and performance when looking at the driver satisfaction index (if such an index exists).

The performance is beyond effortless. Just apply any degree of pressure to the accelerator and this 2.5 tonne SUV moves. Apply a higher degree of pressure and the Touareg R50 'rockets' up to 110 km/h (where legal). The application of power is just so impressive that it is difficult to put the feeling into words. That said, it is a simple fact of life that Volkswagen have made the outstanding Touareg R50 into one of the best drives the motoring world has ever witnessed.

Click on an image for a larger view

Other Volkswagen content: here.

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