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2005 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Review

2005 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

By Colin Hefferon

2005 Volkswagen Touareg

2005 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

copyright Colin Hefferon
A brilliant 5.0L, V-10 twin turbo diesel is now available as an option in the awesome 2005 VW Touareg. MSRP is $57,800 (and goes north from there). The premium over the comparably equipped gasoline V-8 model is roughly $13,000. Is the V-10 diesel engine worth the extra cash? Absolutely. It may well be best high performance passenger automobile engine available anywhere. It perfectly complements the remarkably capable Touareg. All VW models carry a basic warranty of 4years/50,000 miles.

First Glance

"For the Americas, I'm convinced the answer is diesel. And it's here – it's available right now in 2004. All that's left is to convince consumers to test drive the cars and experience the fun." Thus spake Karl Liedtke, Chairman, President & CEO, Robert Bosch Corporation. Admittedly, Herr Liedtke has a vested interest in seeing the diesel engine achieve the same passenger car penetration in America as it already has in Western Europe. The Robert Bosch Corporation supplies much of the key hardware and software for both the common rail and the unit injector ("pumpe duese") diesel systems sold in the world today. Bosch's current market share is something like 80%. Nevertheless, the point he makes is valid. The benefits to the US economy and to the individual American driver would be many. For example, the US would annually save $9 Billion in oil imports and 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. The auto industry would easily meet the US Government’s 28mpg corporate average fuel economy requirements. American drivers of diesel cars would save at least 50% on their fuel bills, make fewer stops for fill ups and experience reduced maintenance costs. And most importantly, American drivers would begin to enjoy driving again. Interested now?

In the Driver's Seat

2005 Volkswagen Touareg Interior

2005 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

VW Media
The 5.0L V10 twin turbo direct injection (TDI) diesel, developing 310hp and a mind-boggling 554 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm is available as an option everywhere except in the five states that adhere to California emissions standards. In 2006, it’s available there too. Contrary to what you may be hearing from the anti-diesel crowd, the 5.0L TDI is an extremely clean engine if it is fed clean fuel. VW engineers maintain it is cleaner even than VW’s own 4.2L gasoline V-8. Quieter too they claim. The Touareg TDI features advanced drive-by-wire controls and will accelerate from 0 – 60mph in 7.5 seconds. While this in itself is an impressive number considering we’re talking about a two and half ton vehicle, it's only half the story. Flat out, the Touareg TDI will reach 155mph while pulling like a dray horse right up to that speed. More importantly for those of us who don’t use an autobahn for our daily commute, when you nudge the accelerator in the low and middle speed ranges from about 20mph to about 80mph, suddenly and without either drama or perceptible increase in cabin noise you’re at your desired speed. If you have any feeling at all for automobiles, you have to be impressed when you experience that kind of smooth power.

On the Road

The Touareg's chassis is more than capable of handling autobahn speeds. Body stiffness measures 40 hz, which is about the same as the super high performance Audi A8 luxury sedan. In an automobile, everything begins with and ultimately depends on stiffness – from the fit of the body panels to the way the vehicle handles both at high speed and over broken roads. This means a remarkably smooth and quiet ride. Of course, it comes with all manner of luxury and convenience items as well as the latest safety enhancements (side curtain air bags, stability control, massive disk brakes, etc). Unlike most SUVs sold here as "trucks", the Touareg is eminently suited to the rough going off-road. With the optional air suspension, it will ford a 22" deep stream and, as we found out at the press introduction in Moab, Utah last year, mount impossibly steep rock ledges. The hill-holding feature allows it to descend very steep slopes backwards or forwards in perfect safety, even when those slopes are covered with loose sand or snow. The Touareg has very few peers for off-road prowess. And for you folks who can’t go anywhere without dragging along the bungalow or the 37' Sea Ray cruiser, the Touareg diesel has a towing capacity of 7,700 lbs.

Journey’s End

2005 Volkswagen Touareg

2005 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

copyright Colin Hefferon
While both the Japanese and American manufacturers seem to be opting for gasoline hybrid drive trains to meet upcoming clean air standards and government-mandated corporate average fuel economy requirements, the European manufacturers have chosen to go with diesel. Diesel has won over European consumers while at the same time satisfying very strict European emissions levels. You folks who still think of diesels as noisy, primitive things belching black smoke will get a shock when you see the new, super refined diesel engines from Europe. And you will start to see them in far greater numbers as the US oil companies get off their duffs and start making low sulphur fuel available here, which will happen in 2006. In the meantime, Volkswagen AG has made three of its many new diesels available to us in North America for 2005 including the 1.9L TDI and 2.0L TDI (turbo direct injection diesel) available in the Jetta/Golf and in the Passat respectively. They’re fine engines – clean, powerful and extremely economical. The V-10 is clean and economical as well. Powerful? The V-10 TDI keeps up with VW/Audi’s new W-12 gasoline engines. Best news is while the W-12 gasoline are Europe-only, the V-10 diesel is now available here.

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