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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 VW Touareg Supercharged HybridCan VW really deliver an SUV for people who want it all?
-So, what do you want in your next car? Space? Fuel economy? Performance? If the answer is yes, VW would like to think this is motorized manna. Let's see if it has a prayer of delivering on all those fronts as we check out the 2011 VW Touareg Hybrid and check the tech. The Touareg is Volkswagen's Cayenne with one big difference. The Cayenne is Porsche's bestselling product; the Touareg, VW's worst. They share a hybrid power plant and transmission as well as frame shell and doors. Beyond that, the two diverge a lot. Don't tell your friends you bought a Cayenne that just cost less. They'll think you're a tulle. Let's talk about interface in this Touareg Hybrid. You've got two good places, which I couldn't say about a VW until just about today. First of all, here's your main screen. It's a whole new rig for VW if you haven't been in one lately. Anywhere from the navigation map, which looks really good, nicely rendered, good dot pitch. You got your 3D, a little bit of topo going on there. 2D as well. You can look at traffic as a contextual list or you can have it displayed on the map of course. As I bounce through things like climate settings and other screens, you can see you've got a nice big touchscreen, big buttons, very Ford like in that sense from earlier Ford systems, but it's got a partner screen also which is really kind of in the classes; some of the BMW and Mercedes helper screens in there between the gauges, kind of a wall-to-wall LCD. And it gives you all kinds of other information you can plug into by using this rocker on the wheel; and that will get you from navigation, audio, telephone, or vehicle. Once you drive within there, as I showed with navigation of course, and you've got this sort of menu bar instead of lots of busy buttons around here. So again, these are dynamic. Here's where you would change your map orientation. I like how it focuses things to little small buckets of function as opposed to giving me huge nested submenus. And you've got some other relevant stuff. This isn't about destination, but it pulls up the bluetooth streaming media screen or whatever is your media right now to kinda have that all in one place because they're realizing you're gonna have the destination up and wanna keep it up while other stuff takes place. Now, let's move on to our media choices here. I like how when you go to media, you just get what you're playing now and then if you wanna dive in to sources, you open that up to expands. That's kinda the right way to orient my top of mind awareness of what I'm doing. You have a built-in hard drive in this car. You've also got bluetooth streaming media. I've got my phone hooked up now. The bluetooth streaming is pretty slick. You've got full readout of metadata as well as transport control. And here's where you get to do some fun, SD card, internal CD, I guess you can opt for an external changer on this guy. Where would they hide that? Ah-huh! Over to the glove box. What is this? Pull the yellow tab. It's kinda like when you're on a jet liner heading down into the ocean. And down slowly. Drop this little deal here, very 007ish. Here's where you've got your single optical disc player and two SD card slots. Both of those media are outdated. I have got this thing. Keep a glock in there with an extra click. Oh, by the way, see that connector down there? That's one of those multimedia interface deals. VW didn't see it fit to give us any of those propriety cables that go with it, but you can use that to create a USB female pigtail, an AUX female, an iPod connector, etc.; and those would pop up on the source. The rearview camera has, as you can see, trajectory and distance. Plus, you can decide to option in or out this overlay screen of what the distance sensors are showing you. So, that's kind of a nice, rich interface for debumping in the stuff. You've also got this mode over here on the right, this ribbon that let's you decide on sensors, and sensor overlays, and some camera positions that's almost more than you're ever gonna wanna screw with, but it's a nice toy. You have one choice of transmission in this guy. It's an 8-speed automatic. It's technically a Tiptronic from the Porsche, Audi, VW family. You move it to drive or kick it over here to tip it into different gears. You've also got a sport mode back here, which we will check at when we get into the road. And right next to that, you've got your e-mode for extremely economical running. It biases the car more toward efficiency than even drive and of course even more than sports. Here's your all-wheel drive control. Four motion is very simply implemented on this car. You're either on road or you're off road. The Touareg has a very cool headlight technology developed by Hella. A forward-scanning camera constantly evaluates oncoming headlights and reshapes the beam cut-off of your Touareg's headlights in realtime to give you maximum lighting without blinding them. I think it's the only car in the world to do that. Very cool. We've got a three-leader V6, not necessarily just direct injection 'coz you'd see TDI here. We have TSI. So, direct injection combines with supercharging. Here's the supercharger here. Here's the nose pulley. Here's you intake plenum. So, this is a very different thing than you're used on any hybrid except this and the Cayenne, which has the same motor. It's an Audi motor by the way. You can tell by all these various fittings. Those valve covers are a dead give away. Oh yeah, so is the Audi logo on front of the cam here. This guy will get you 380 horsepower, 425 foot pounds of torque, lots of torque because superchargers are torquey. Electric motors are torquey. This guy of course has one sandwiched between the engine and the transmission. 0 to 60 at 6.2 seconds. For a vehicle that weighs 5135 without you in it, that's pretty impressive. MPG not so much so, 20, 24, but given the whole package, how big it is and how fast it moves, I guess that's something a of a whinge. Now, driving this Touareg supercharge hybrid is an interesting mixed bag of experiences. You've got these two drive modes. There's drive and there's sports. And you've got this e-mode as I pointed out. Jekyll and Hyde going on here. This car can be the biggest slug you've ever driven. If you poke along in D and echo mode, real disconnected, real rubbery, long delay. It's like steering the Titanic, you know. Gotta make a left turn? Give me five minutes. Well, in this thing, it's like gotta accelerate to get in that hole up there. Give me five seconds. That's a long time. But once you get this guy into, let's say, sport mode and/or mix the gears yourself, all of those gobs of supercharged and electric torque come on and you can absolutely punch out of a whole. Now, I didn't get this guy off road so I can't say much about how it does there, but one last note about driving is visibility in this vehicle. Very interesting. A square-cornered mirror. You don't see that very often. Looks out a very square backlight to the rear which maximizes the amount of visible area. And as I look over the corners, this car actually has very little in the way of blind spots. I mean, they are there like any modern car, thick pillars, but they've done a really good job carving a lot of holes in this vehicle. So, it's better than most at staying visible; and of course, I love this panoramic roof. This is one of the most panoramic of the panoramic roofs that are so much in vogue these days. You really feel the airiness in this guy, which it actually doesn't print that airy from the outside, but when you're inside, it's very-- very nice light greenhouse. Now, before you pull the trigger on a Touareg Hybrid, you gotta pencil out the TDI version, the turbo diesel. Check it out. The hybrid gets 20/24 MPG. The diesel? 19/28. The hybrid gets to 60 in 6.2. The diesel takes 7.9. The hybrid cost about 61 grand. The diesel about 48,000, but you will have to spend a few thousand more to get things like the panoramic roof. Still, you'll save many thousands and get the TDI's lovable torque curve. And I'll bet the TDI doesn't feel half as much slower as the number suggest. Okay, let's place this Touareg Hybrid. It's about 61,500 delivered and that's about it. There are no tech options. There are hardly any options except for lighter color. You gotta compare it to the turbo diesel. You owe that to yourself just driving both head to head. The diesel costs a lot less. It needs a few thousand more in it to get the equipment the same, but you gotta do the math on that one. And the janky power train here could be a deal breaker no matter what.