New 2018 Volkswagen Touareg review – a Bentayga without the badge? - Interior and tech

The all-new Touareg is full of engineering excellence, but it’s not in the pursuit of driver entertainment

Evo rating
  • Imperious example of German engineering, exceptional refinement, next-generation tech
  • Not much fun to drive, feels its weight on the road, knobbly ride on larger wheels

Of all of Volkswagen’s technological breakthroughs in this new Touareg, it’s the interior that will likely house the single piece of new tech that will be most obvious to buyers. The new interior’s party piece, albeit optionally on all but the top-spec R-Line Tech model, is the combination of a 12-inch driver’s display screen and a (huge) 15-inch touchscreen on the centre of the dash. Together, VW calls it Innovision Cockpit, and aside from the terrible name, it definitely feels like a next-generation interpretation of what future VW interiors will transform into.

Within the central touchscreen is a new operating system that takes full advantage of the extra real estate. Gone are all physical heating and ventilation controls, which now sit in a non-movable bar at the base of the screen where it’s easy enough to change the temperature without too many prods at the screen. Pretty much all of the car’s other functions are also controlled entirely through this interface which is large enough to display the satnav, phone and media info all at the same time, mostly negating the need to switch between them. Of course, if you want to delve deeper into each subsequent function, you can, but it remains easier to navigate than most rival systems, but still a little too distracting for comfort.

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The driver’s display is much the same as others seen elsewhere, however the pleasing consistency of the two display finishes, in contrast to Audi’s habit of fitting gloss touchscreens and a matt driver’s display, should appease any obsessive compulsives (ie. this one), even if the inevitable fingerprints do not.

The overall interior design has also taken a massive step forward to absorb this new infotainment system, with the whole dash slightly angling towards the driver, placing the central air vents below in a neat, minimalist layout. The high, wide centre console makes the driver feel like they are sitting in a captain’s chair, a metaphor not lost in the driving experience. 

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It may seem like an exaggeration to put so much emphasis on the impact of a screen only a few inches larger than in other VW models, but it’s the way these new screens function that fundamentally changes the way we interact with the car. The Touareg allows you to personalise the way you use the interior in a way few others do, and it quickly becomes second nature. You no longer go searching for buttons that aren’t there. In comparison to rivals’ interiors, even class-leading ones like in the Audi Q7, the VW makes all others feel distinctly old-hat, and cars such as the considerably more expensive Bentley Bentayga feel spectacularly unimpressive. 

As for interior space, the wide body shell provides plenty for passengers front and rear. VW’s refusal to fit a third row further improves second-row space, while the boot is wide, deep and perfectly square. Models fitted with air suspension have the ability to lower the car to a low loading height from a switch within the boot, although it’s quite a slow process, so patience is required.

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