- Better value for money than V8 TDI
- Excellent V6 turbo diesel
- Extremely comfortable
- Some features are still optional at this price
- Why no seven-seat option?
- Huge touchscreen could be better
Not too long ago, we tested the Volkswagen Touareg V8. With its stonking 900Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 diesel engine, the Touareg V8 was as wonderful as it was excessive. Expensive too, at around $150,000 drive away. Alas, others agreed with us and its 300-unit allocation for Australia has been sold out. What is the potential Touareg buyer to do now? We tested the now-top-of-the-range 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line to find out.
Fitted with a 210kW – not 310kW – V6 turbo-diesel engine, the Touareg 210TDI R-Line is now the top of the Australian Touareg range for now (the plug-in hybrid turbo V6 Touareg R is reportedly under consideration for 2022). Priced at $118,000 drive away, it’s priced $10,000 more than the Touareg 210TDI Elegance that sits below it, but it’s still good value for money in our opinion.
Price & Equipment: 8/10
Standard equipment on the 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line includes 20-inch alloy wheels with adaptive air suspension, all-LED lighting, auto lights and wipers, ‘Vienna’ leather upholstery, a 15.0-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, LED ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, 18-way electric front seats with massaging and driver’s memory functionality, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with electric adjustment, an eight-speaker sound system, keyless entry and start, heated and auto-folding mirrors with puddle lamps, an electric tailgate with kick-to-open functionality and R-Line details such as badging, upholstery and exterior styling.
Safety equipment includes eight airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane assist with adaptive lane guidance, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention monitoring, a heads-up display, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, Matrix adaptive high functionality for the LED headlights, adaptive cruise control with travel assist and emergency assist, which slowly and safely stops the car if the driver becomes unresponsive. That’s a fairly comprehensive list, though rear auto braking and auto parking are still optional and knee airbags for both the driver and front passenger are available in Germany, but not here.
Optionally available is the $6,500 Sound and Comfort Pack, which adds a 360-degree parking camera, four-zone climate control, automatic parking, heated rear seats and a 730W 14-speaker Dynaudio sound system. Not including features such as a 360-degree parking camera as standard on a car that’s already $118,000 drive away is a bit mean, in our opinion. A panoramic sunroof is also an additional $3,000.
The only no-cost colour option is ‘Pure White’, while ‘Antimonial Silver’, ‘Malbec Red’, ‘Aquamarine Blue’, ‘Silicon Grey’ and ‘Deep Black Pearl’ are $2,100 extra. On the R-Line, the only interior colour is black with grey R-Line inserts.
Competitors to the Touareg 210TDI R-Line include the $114,100 drive away BMW X5 xDrive25d, $118,600 Mercedes-Benz GLE300d, $115,130 drive away Audi Q7 45 and the $113,066 drive away Genesis G80 3.0D. While the Volkswagen is more expensive than the BMW, Audi and Genesis in particular, it does feature significantly more kit as standard. Buyers must spend another $15,000 on the BMW, $5,500 on the Audi and $13,000 on the Mercedes-Benz for example, to match the Touareg’s standard equipment.
Performance & Economy: 9/10
When it was launched locally, the Touareg used a 190kW 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine that’s also used in the Amarok ute. For the 2021 model year however, that engine has been replaced by a new V6 diesel of the same capacity, but now with a strong 210kW/600Nm. It’s Euro 6 emissions compliant as well with CO2 emissions of 180g/km.
Sure, the 210kW/600Nm peak outputs are a whole 100kW and 300Nm less than the Touareg V8, but the Touareg 210TDI is no slouch – the 0-100km/h sprint is claimed at just 6.1 seconds. Peak torque is on tap from 1,750-3,000rpm, which is great for all types of driving. The V6 TDI is a great engine with more than ample grunt right across the rev range. The eight-speed automatic is smooth and intuitive as well, and remains a silent partner – unobtrusive but you know it’s there.
Volkswagen claims that the Touareg 210TDI will use 6.8L/100km on a combined cycle, and we saw 7.8L/100km, which is still pretty excellent. A few highway runs resulted in economy of under 6L/100km, which is truly excellent for a 2,169kg (tare mass) car. As part of the 2021 update, a 90-litre fuel tank is standard, which opens up the potential for a cruising range of more than 1,400km.
Towing ability with the Touareg is a strong 3,500kg braked capacity, though its 240kg towbar downforce capacity isn’t great.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
Like the Touareg V8, the 210TDI R-Line offers up an excellent driving experience and that’s partly because of its standard drivetrain equipment. There’s active air suspension, four-wheel steering, active roll bars, an active centre differential to shuffle power even between the front and rear wheels, selectable driving modes and so on. Here is a 2.2-tonne car that feels much more nimble than its huge weight would suggest, and it even fits in around the tighter streets of inner urban Sydney. One example of this is its tight turning circle: just 11.19m, which is impressive.
Around town, the Touareg’s ride quality is great despite its large 20-inch wheels. Leave the city and it’s just wonderful as well – soft yet taught, with good body control but still enough softness so that most bumps don’t interrupt. The suspension can be made firmer in sport mode if you need it. The steering is also relatively light but heavy enough thanks to the large wheels. The air suspension can be raised by up to 75mm depending on the terrain covered, and like Land Rover products, the Touareg has a number of off-road modes that tune the car’s electrics to match the surface being driven on.
As a cruiser, the Touareg 210TDI R-Line is excellent. It wafts along in relative silence with pleasingly low road noise levels, excellent visibility and more than ample performance. Its active safety equipment like auto braking and lane assist is nice and subtle as well, unlike some brands that make you panic with every little noise their systems make.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
Inside the Touareg is also a mostly positive experience with soft touch materials almost everywhere, Nappa leather with the rather naff carbon fibre effect, as well as tasteful dotted ambient lighting with almost endless available colour options. The seats are all-day comfortable, and the driving position is quite adjustable as well. We particularly like the massaging functionality of the front seats, which perform ‘cat’s paws’ massaging as part of its ability.
The cabin experience is largely dominated by a huge 15.0-inch touchscreen, as well as the 12.3-inch digital driver display that can be configured to a driver’s liking. The centre screen can take some time to get used to as it has just such a huge array of functions including wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, inbuilt satellite navigation, gesture control, the heating and AC information, off-road settings, drive mode selection and the seat settings. The home screen is configurable to put important functions first, though it’s still not the easiest system to use. The screen quality is excellent though, as is the sound from the 730W 14-speaker Dynaudio sound system. There’s no digital radio, though, nor any of the internet-based functionality that European models are equipped with.
Like the centre screen, the Touareg’s cabin quality is pretty good. There’s a soft touch dashboard and door tops, plus stitching on the grab handles and nicely weighted controls that feel high quality. It doesn’t really take the quality higher than a Passat or Arteon though, so we’d like to see a proper leather dashboard, as well as more trim colours introduced.
Practicality inside the Touareg’s cabin is plentiful with a large centre console bin with a wireless phone charger and a USB-C input, huge door bins, a big covered centre console armrest bin and large cupholders as well. The space inside the Touareg’s cabin is also plentiful with more than enough room for six-footers sitting behind themselves in the rear seat – and thanks to the Touareg’s width, ample space for three people across the rear as well. Rear occupants also enjoy their own dual-zone climate control, heated seats that slide and recline, a centre armrest with cupholders, sunshades in the doors and large door bins.
Unlike the Q7 and X5, the 2021 Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI is only a five-seater – ironically, the smaller Tiguan Allspace is the sole seven-seat SUV in the VW lineup for most global markets. For some, that’s fine, but we really do think that the Touareg should offer seven seats at least as an option.
The Touareg’s boot is more than useable with 810-litres on offer, which opens up to huge 1,800L with the rear seats folded almost flat. There are also a number of nets, hooks, a double-sided boot mat, a 12V socket, tabs to pull to lower the seats and even buttons to raise or lower the rear of the car to help with loading items into the boot.
Service & Warranty: 7/10
Like other Volkswagen products in Australia, the Touareg V8 TDI comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty with a singular year of roadside assistance. Capped price servicing for the 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line over five years is $3,620 ($724 per service), which is not cheap though amazingly, somehow less than the smaller Tiguan 162TSI. A better option is to get a service pack at the time of purchase: the five-year/75,000km pack is $2,600 ($520 per service). Like other Volkswagen products, the Touareg 210TDI R-Line’s service intervals are once yearly or every 15,000km, whichever comes first.
Volkswagen’s warranty shades both Audi and BMW’s poor three year equivalents, and equals Genesis’ term. Interestingly, while Volkswagen’s service pack looks good value against Audi ($3,380 for a five-year pack on a Q7 45 TDI), BMW’s $2,250 five-year/80,000km pack for X5 servicing is even better. Genesis includes servicing for the first five years/50,000km of ownership, though its intervals are a less convenient 10,000km/yearly.
The 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.4/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 210TDI R-Line is a genuinely excellent car that is more than capable of holding up the VW fort in the absence of its V8 TDI bigger brother. While it doesn’t feature that car’s amazing turbo diesel V8 engine, the V6 diesel in its place is still fantastic – very grunty, amazingly quiet and capable of returning pretty good fuel economy numbers. Even with two cylinders less than the V8 TDI, the Touareg’s overall package is still great as well with a solid value equation, a comfortably and high quality cabin and an excellent driving experience.
Sure, the interior fit and finish could be taken to a level higher, the running costs aren’t small and it really should offer seven seats in this price range. But these niggles aside, the Touareg is a great all-round package that we think should be at the top of your test drive list if you’re after a premium large SUV.
Thank you to Josh Picard for helping out with this road test.