New 2018 Volkswagen Touareg review – a Bentayga without the badge? - Ride and handling

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

Previous generations of the Volkswagen Touareg have traditionally been twinned in development with the Porsche Cayenne. Despite that car’s class-defining handling, VW went down a more comfort-oriented route, putting driving enjoyment lower down on the list.

This new Touareg is no different, but as part of the Volkswagen Group’s restructure of its development hubs, the new Touareg/Cayenne platform is now also shared with the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and even the new Lamborghini Urus. The platform is familiar, too, being the MLB-evo platform developed by Audi that places the engine longitudinally over the front axle, connected to an all-wheel-drive system.

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This move to a new platform has afforded the new Touareg a fairly significant weight saving, with as much as 106kg of weight taken out of the chassis thanks to a higher percentage of aluminium and high-strength steel.

Despite the weight saving, the Touareg still feels like a very large car on the move, something exacerbated by the soft suspension set-up in the air-sprung model we’re driving here. Yet the ride isn’t flawless, as the car can sometimes find itself crashing into sharp intrusions and potholes, but you can thank the optional 21-inch wheels of our test car for that. Put the car into its more dynamic modes and it becomes subtly more controlled at higher speeds, yet the ride doesn't suffer any further. 

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Drive the Touareg outside its remit, though, and it quickly feels uncomfortable, but rarely out of its depth. Rear-wheel steering or not, the car struggles to change direction with anything like as much sophistication as a Cayenne, let alone a BMW 5-series. The steering is completely lifeless, and although it doesn’t detract from the driving experience, it doesn’t add to it, either. Best to calm it all down and drive it like the large, high-riding SUV that it is.

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