Volkswagen Touareg #193
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Volkswagen Touareg #197
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Volkswagen Touareg

The Volkswagen Touareg is a luxury 4x4 (US: SUV) automobile manufactured by Volkswagen. It is the first of this class ever produced by this manufacturer. It rides on the Volkswagen E platform.

The Touareg was co-developed with Porsche, who was also looking to add an SUV to their lineup, as a cost-sharing initiative. Porsche shares this chassis to underpin their Cayenne SUV, although there are numerous styling, equipment and technical differences between the two vehicles. Also, the Touareg replaced the Eurovan for North America as the company's truck.

The Touareg was Car and Driver magazine's Best Luxury SUV for 2003, Motor Trend magazine's Sport/Utility of the Year for 2004, "Four Wheeler" magazine's Four Wheeler of the Year for 2005 & Overlander's 2003 4WDOTY

The following engines are available:

+ 174 PS (128 kW, 172 hp) 2.5 L diesel I5

The twin-turbocharged diesel V10 engine pushes the Touareg from 0–62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.8 seconds, and on to 130 mph (230 km/h) maximum. The Diesel V10 was offered in the United States for a limited time in 2004 and 2005, but — emissions regulations forced it off the market for a temporary period. Volkswagen is working on fixing these issues, and will return the V10 to the US lineup in 2006.

The W12 version should reach 100 km/h (60 mph) in 5.9 seconds. Production of the W12 Touareg is limited to 500 units. Of these, 330 are slated for Saudi Arabia, with none going to the United States.

Despite the misconception that the Touareg and Cayenne are "soft-roaders" with little or no off-road ability, Porsche/Volkswagen jointly did extensive off-road testing with test mules and both vehicles are in actuality extremely capable off-road, all that is really necessary are more aggressive tires. Volkswagen, for instance, entered a modified Touareg in the Paris Dakar.

Development, Success and Distribution

The Touareg was a joint project developed by Porsche and Volkswagen, initially called E1. The goal was to create an off-road vehicle that could handle as a sports car. The team, with over 300 people, was lead by Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert and was based in Weissach im Tal, Germany. The Volkswagen Touareg is built in Bratislava, Slovakia. The manufacturing plant shares production with Touareg-cousins Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. Due to the demand, and the exchange rates of Euro vs. Dollar, as well as different pricing and environmental policies in the USA, only V6 and V8 are available for the North American market. A very limited number of the 2004 V10 diesel engine units were sent and are currently highly priced, even on the used market.

Environmental and health concerns

The V10 diesel version of the Touareg was named "meanest" or least-energy-efficient 2004 car by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for its fuel economy of 17 miles per US gallon city (7.3 km/L) and 23 mpg highway (9.8 km/L). This, along with the Touareg's emissions and their estimated impact on global warming and health, earned it the low "Green Score" of 9, as compared to the Honda Civic GX, which was the "greenest", at a score of 57. Within the context of the US SUV's that are significantly less efficient (e.g. Hummer) this accolade is not so damning.

Interestingly enough, diesel is the ecological option used around the world. In Europe, where ecology has a strong effect on politics, over 50% of the cars are diesel. The coalition government of the German Green Party and the SPD Social Democratic Party of Germany introduced highly restrictive environmental policies, that increased the use of diesel and biodiesel vehicles. Diesel engines are, on average, 40% more efficient than gasoline engines (spark-ignition engines). The increased fuel economy of the diesel over the petrol engine means that the diesel produces less carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit distance. Recently, advances in production and changes in the political climate have increased the availability and awareness of biodiesel, an alternative to petroleum-derived diesel fuel with a much lower net-sum emission of CO2, due to the absorption of CO2 by plants used to produce the fuel.

The Touareg has become controversial in Australia. Former Australian Rugby Union captain, Phil Kearns was provided with a V8-powered Touareg as an ambassador for the vehicle. On October 22, 2005 an incident occurred in the driveway of the Kearns' family home whereby the 19-month old daughter of Kearns was struck by the vehicle in forward motion not reverse, leaving her with very serious injuries. Road safety advocates in Australia have pointed to the poor visibility from the drivers' seat of the Touareg, and of SUVs generally, as the cause of the accident. An Australian National Roads and Motorists Association study has revealed that a child needs to be 7.8 metres from the rear bumper of the vehicle in order to be observed by the driver. This fact has led to calls for reversing cameras to be made compulsory on all SUVs sold in Australia.

BMW 5-Series
Mercedes-Benz B-Class UK-Version