You know, there’s something about a big, powerful vehicle that absolutely thrills me to bits. I can see the attraction of an elevated seat, ultra wide breadth and 335 straining horses packed inside a growling 4.2l V8 engine (250kW for those preferring metric).
Normally, I bemoan the pushiness of selfish drivers in their big SUVs that hustle you out of parking bays at the local shopping mall, who shove you out of their way on the highway and who own the street with a complete disregard for other road users. I detest the excess of their ways and poke fun at their driving ability (or lack thereof) as they fail to neatly manoeuver their behemoths through a three-point turn in a tight space. I claim to be above their petty ways. And then I get to drive one of their cars for a week.
Oh the thrill, the excess of power at the merest whisper of pressure on the pedal. That feeling of invincibility as you bear down on mere mortals in their city run-abouts. The caress of fine leather with perfect stitching, the growl of an 8-cylinder diesel engine and the handling that is on offer from this people’s car manufacturer… I find myself cursing other road users as they interrupt my driving reverie.
I also wish to join the ranks of the superior vehicle owners who cannot care about the daily commute of others as we intimidate them from hogging the right lane on the N2. A quote springs to mind in this regard… “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” How perfectly applicable when talking about the Volkswagen Touareg 4.2l V8 TDI. With that much power at my behest, why shouldn’t I join the swelling ranks of selfish road hogs?
So, in an effort to prevent myself from being completely lulled into the poor habits of large SUV drivers, I limited myself to stretching the capabilities of this superb vehicle in a habitat where it would be more appreciated. The local stables for instance.
Oohs and aaahs over the 3500kg braked towing capacity (that’s 2 large warmbloods, a hefty horsebox, several saddles and a full day’s stock of feed and showing equipment). Oh, and just to really get up Mavis’s nose, the nifty towbar that drops electronically from the rear to be ready at the push of a button for towing; then tucks itself away when you’re no longer in need of it. Plus you can lower or raise the rear end through another push of a button to simplify the hitching process. Of course, this wonder extends itself to accommodating the hitching of a boat trailer, your off-road trailer with tent or just the family caravan for the trip to Kruger if staying in private lodges and chalets are so last year.
Another trip to test the Touareg’s handling involved an early start to beat the Sunday morning bikers and hitting the Cape’s stunning passes followed by some out of the way dirt roads that hug the mountains en-route to Greyton. We threw some foul Cape winter weather into the mix and checked out what the car would do.
Following a seamless transition from tar to muddied dirt, we traveled in supreme comfort to the sleepy town of Greyton and burbled our way to a cosy breakfast stop before finding some more muddied roads, washed away river crossings and rutted tracks to try and shake the Touareg’s composure. No luck I’m afraid.
It handled each with great aplomb with ESP, ABS, traction control and more ensuring a completely skid-free, incident free and exceedingly pleasurable trip. And the Touareg appreciated its new mud-coloured paintjob we’d done on it. In fact, it looked even more at home there than amongst the mink and manure crowd at the stables.
A final trip of the week involved a hospital run to transport a friend and her mother to collect her ailing step-dad following an operation. Again, the silence and comfort of the Touareg comes into its own with enough rear leg- and head-room to fit the gentleman’s tall frame comfortably for the hour’s journey home. He was so impressed and remarked most notably on the superb ride comfort.
The V8 TDI offers everything you could possibly want from a comfortable SUV – easy to use multimedia system with navigation, steering wheel controls, electrically adjustable front seats, automatic distance control, 4×4 capability, good looks, sleek lines and OK-ish fuel consumption (averaged 10.4l/100km on mixed driving, not bad for moving 2 tons of metal around but not remotely close to the 9l/100km claimed consumption). Response feels sluggish in town but still offers snappy overtaking ability with a slight turbo lag. Aside from this, the drive on the open road is sublime and well worth longer trips. Slower off-road driving is a pleasure.
So, in summary, the Touareg 4.2l V8 TDI will please most people, it’s hardcore, yet comfortable, will tow a horsebox, caravan or fishing boat with ease, you’ll get far enough on each liter to ensure your wallet doesn’t complain too much and more than anything else, it’ll keep the smug smile on your face as you bear down on other drivers and intimidate them out of your way as you coax out those immense power reserves. What’s not to want?
The Volkswagen Touareg is available from N$723 300 with the 4.2l V8 TDI that we tested available from N$1 010 400 with a 3-year, 120 000km warranty and 5-year, 100 000km AutoMotion maintenance plan.