The Touareg are a nomadic people of the interior north Africa, way up the Sahara deserts. Being nomadic, they move a lot – call them untiring feet – so that some of them are here in our country. Well, quite literally, yes! Picture their feet like something from pristine times – aurochs pushing a set forward, seizing the other. Then the other. And in that fashion.
But, the Touaregs here in our country, I mean, are not some bipeds wearing black cotton turbans about their wiry, unfazed faces, or some of those with four sets of desert-devastating feet, but some quadrupeds, yes, but belonging to a class of desert-daring vehicles we love to call SUV. O, that is, until 2013.
But, listen, folks.
Your Right of Way! today wants you to decide on asking Volkswagen to reverse the trend, if you know the benefit of being Touareg in the first place, or continue with the trend if you believe, like the automakers are making us want to believe these days, that there are no off-roads anymore, or that making something too rigid, when it’s only needed a few of the times is just too much waste to tolerate.
OK, let’s get right to it!
When, in the year 2002, Volkswagen (that is, the brand) finalised a joint venture project partnership with Audi and Porsche (both of these being part of the Volkswagen group), the result was a common vehicle platform codenamed PL71 that was to be shared by three marques of these brands. They were the Q7 for Audi, the Cayenne for Porsche, and our Touareg from Volkswagen. In fact, a then future product from Lamborghini, another Volkswagen sibling, the Urus, was expected to be based off of this platform. They were all going to be cut from the same cloth so to speak.
The interesting thing about this is this platform was to be a 4×4 platform. The goal was to create an off-road automobile platform that could handle at the same time as well as a sports car. You know, this would be first for the group as far as crossover is concerned, and looking at Porsche, if its crossover entrant didn’t retain the sporty DNA it’s been known for it’d meet the ire of its enthusiasts and fanatics. Bottom line – the floorpan, the front and rear axles, the front and rear suspension setups, the steering mechanism, all basic underpinnings of the platform were suitable for the kind of rigidity expected of off-road vehicles, with available adjustments at the touch of a button to position it as sporty.
The Touareg thus came standard with a four-wheel drive system, air suspension system that you just shifted a knob and could have the ride height increase up to 11 inches off the ground, with the twist of a switch you could manually lock the rear differential, enter low-range gears for maximum, powerful crawling. There were off-road modes – all hallmarks of a true SUV. It was awesome! And, the sportiness on-road was enhanced by the same air suspension that could lower the ride height almost to a sedan-type 6.3 inches! It was a sweet, Versatile car! Even with the base 3.2-liter, about 220-horsepower V6 engine, it was as Capable (and as Practical) as anything known out there. Rewarding to drive.
Those who still own one (O, let ’em keep it forever!) know how it goes when you have to smack your lips and click your tongue to something that is not food!
Motor Trend’s Sport and Utility Vehicle of the Year could not be more fitting! Deserved.
Volkswagen carried the same platform through to when it did a facejob on the Touareg in 2007 for the 2008 model year. At this same time, the SUV genes of the Touareg, true to its name and origins, were retained. And if you were lucky enough to drive the R50, the 5.0-liter, 627 lb-ft of torque, V10 diesel, nothing so heavy felt so light and good!
Look, there’s everything about the Personality of driving. If you knew it is some persons vision and goals just to drive Ferraris. Just to drive Ferraris, that’s all, even if they starved, they’ll be fine. Think of that! Then you’ll understand.
It was this same second generation that saw a pairing with an already fantastic air suspension, Volkswagen’s dynamic damping control, something that apparently came from Porsche’s house, that tightened or released the shocks for a more supple ride or stiffer one, when the latter may be in need according to terrain demands. That alongside smoothly shifting Aisin 8-speed transmission.
Yes, but that’s now miles, I mean miles, away in the rear view mirror of this big Passat! You’ll see why I so call it, please.
The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg has broken with off-road tradition and wants to blend with what appears to be the new normal with automakers – a softer approach at off-roading. It is disappearing.
Here’s the facts: all latest generation VW Touareg trims just have sports suspension – that is fixed spring rates and dampers – with VW’s 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system with torque coming from 8-speed transmission and adaptive torque distribution via Torsen center differential. On the surface, that’s pretty lite and sporty, but it’s SUV territory and it’s 4,700 lb+, thus cannot ride or handle like a true sports car, it still does some great job at those, but, it’s now officially a big city car, much like the Toyota Highlander, the Nissan pathfinder, and the Ford Explorer.
All in all, don’t think I now hate this current generation unibody Touareg. I still love this car. It still retains some SUVness like double wishbone front suspension, Torsen center locking differential, rear steel spring independent suspension, with smart electronics handling the torque vectoring, some reasonable ground clearance, but, but, I just miss the extra ruggedness that was masked in the fine cloth of previous generations – the true Touareg spirit. Here only here is a little bit left.
As much as I know Nigeria, I insist that there’s tons of off-roads among us and I’m not talking about unpaved or porrly paved areas, but real muds, and sands, and hills, and inclines, and mountain passes, and rocks, that we must live with.
If we got to drive, why not to have fun traversing what’s made for us. What God gave us! This little Touareg left in Volkswagen is, ugh, not enough!
Have you enjoyed today’s episode? We produce Your Right of Way! to educate you on the making of the cars you drive while entertaining you with its manner of presentation. But, we value your time and always keep it pointed and brief. If you feel your friends and family must benefit from these great thoughts lightly expressed here, leave your comments and play this forward with a community button below. Thanks.