Volkswagen Touareg 2019: First drive review

Front view of blue Volkswagen Touareg driving on road

Tim Nicholson

Posted June 07, 2019

Tim Nicholson takes the Volkswagen Touareg 190TDI for a launch drive. 

The all-new third-generation Touareg has been a long time coming. Volkswagen’s flagship SUV has been around in its previous guise since 2011 and it was getting long in the tooth. 

The new model is underpinned by Volkswagen Group’s MLB-Evo architecture that also forms the basis of some pretty high-end SUVs, including the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and even the Lamborghini Urus. The 2019 Touareg therefore takes a huge leap forward in terms of technology, in-car comfort and driveability, so much so that it is now nudging premium territory.

First impressions:

The Touareg might not have a third seating row but it is excellent value against premium rivals and it’s an absolute pleasure to drive.


Initially offered in one 190TDI Launch Edition variant, the Touareg range will expand in the next year with the addition of an entry-level offering, while a slightly more powerful 210TDI could also join the line-up before year’s end. For now, the Launch Edition kicks off at $89,990 before on-road costs. This makes the Touareg the most expensive model in Volkswagen’s Australian line-up, sitting above the Arteon sedan and V6 Amarok Ultimate.

The price is about $4500 more than the base price of the previous-generation Touareg 180TDI, but VW says the inclusion of a Driver Assistant pack as standard, as well as a big uptick in standard comfort and safety gear, means the Touareg is now better value than ever.

A quick glance at the specification lists of some premium large SUVs highlights the value equation. The Touareg has more standard kit than the BMW X5 xDrive30d, Land Rover Discovery SD4 HSE, Volvo XC90 Momentum and the outgoing Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d. 

However, these other models are available with a family-friendly third seating row – something the Touareg doesn’t have. VW Australia insists that most Touareg buyers are not interested in a seven-seat option, but it would undoubtedly widen the model’s appeal.

The Touareg’s design is evolutionary, but it’s a handsome thing in the metal. Inside, the overall look is sleek in a very ‘modern Volkswagen’ way and the materials are high quality. The front seats – which feature a massage function – offer superb levels of support and comfort. 

The 9.2-inch ‘Discover Pro’ touchscreen is standard, but the optional 15-inch ‘Discover Premium’ touchscreen fitted to the cars at the media launch consumes the entire centre stack and integrates seamlessly with the all-digital instrument cluster. This removes the need for buttons and switches.

There’s acres of space in the second row and it has face and knee-level air vents as well as second-row climate controls. The Touareg would make an excellent airport limo. 

It offers an impressive 810 litres of boot space – 1800 litres when the rear seats are folded – and you can even flick a switch in the cargo area to lower the rear end if you need to load heavy items. It is only offered with a space-saver spare tyre. 

The Touareg is powered by VW’s 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine – essentially the same unit found in the impressive Amarok V6 ute – matched with an intuitive eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission driving all four wheels via the 4Motion system.

While there is a hint of turbo lag on take-off, the huge well of torque down low means the Touareg picks up speed quickly. Overtaking is a breeze. 

And it’s quiet. Volkswagen has done an excellent job in quelling outside noise, ensuring a hushed cabin. The media launch drive took us from Hobart airport to the stunning Lake St Clair in Tasmania, where it had snowed the day before. The Touareg kept its grip in some seriously slippery conditions. In drier conditions, the Touareg is a sprightly performer, tackling twisty mountain terrain like a car half its size.

Our main gripe was with the lane-keep assist system that tugs the steering wheel too harshly and is not as seamless as systems from some other manufacturers. This function can be turned off in the car’s settings. 

Aside from that, the new Touareg improves on the old model in every area and it should be considered a serious contender against high-end large SUVs.


Volkswagen Touareg 190TDI Launch Edition


Model range: Model range: $89,990 before on-road costs.


3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive.

Power: 190kW@4000rpm.

Torque: 600Nm@2250rpm.

Tyres: 285/45 R20, space-saver spare.


Fuel: Diesel, 75-litre tank.

Consumption: 7.4L/100km (government test).

Emissions: 194g/km CO2


Adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, driver-fatigue detection, lane-keep assist, front and rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, front assist with city emergency brake, traffic-jam assist.


‘IQ’ Matrix adaptive LED headlights, automatic hands-free tailgate, seven-inch multi-function display, 9.2-inch colour ‘Discover Pro’ touchscreen, eight-speaker audio system, heated and ventilated 18-way electric front seats.


Five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty; service plan is 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.