500Nm of torque in a four-wheel-drive seems like a big number.
Hino Trucks' latest ads talk about "true grunt" and they only have 430.
What's that? Oh, I'm only driving the V6 Volkswagen Touareg TDI - and there's another one with a W10 motor in it that cranks out 750Nm you say.... bugger me.
Anybody who knows cars will read the following about the V6 from the press kit and be speechless.
"Its maximum torque of 500 Nm is reached at a low 1750 - 2750 rpm. The Touareg V6 TDI engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 9.9 seconds. It achieves a top speed of 205 km/h. Average fuel consumption: 10.9 litres per 100km."
I can tell you from driving the beast fully-laden with family and luggage for a 10-day Christmas trip to Rainbow Beach it felt even faster and seemingly chewed less fuel. And it felt like nothing but a chain hooked to a bulldozer would be able to stop it from pulling.
The price of the 165kW 3.0-litre V6 TDI (turbo diesel) is $74,990 which I reckon is a steal for the features and comfort. The 230kW W10 jumps to a whopping $121,990 and drinks 13.8l/100km on average, but gets from 0-100km/h 7.8 seconds which is Commodore-like performance.
You can get two other engines as well: a 128kW/400Nm 2.5-litre five-cylinder TDI and a 206kW/360Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol.
The petrol is the same price as the V6 diesel, but the 2.5 diesel will save you about $10K, which is a super deal, still heaps enough grunt, slightly better fuel economy but a slower acceleration time of 12.9 seconds.
All variants are offered with the Tiptronic 6-speed automatic transmission. There is an option on V6 petrol and diesel models for the advanced CDC (Continuous Damping Control) air suspension system. The Touareg V10 TDI gets air suspension with automatic leveling control and height adjustment as standard factory-installed equipment.
The standard features list is as impressive as the torque. V6 FSI, R5 TDI and V6 TDI have sporty 17-inch "Canyon" alloy wheels with wide profile tyres (255/60), dual-zone automatic climate control, parking distance sensors, rain sensing windscreen wipers and cruise control.
Add to this integrated CD player and ten loudspeakers, rear mounted 6 disc CD changer, electrically foldable adjustable and heated side-view mirrors, power windows all round, hinged rear window, reach and height adjustment steering, multifunctional display and central locking with remote control.
The V6 FSI and V6 TDI also get an alarm system, walnut wood and brushed aluminium inserts in dashboard and doors, cricket leather, electrically adjustable front seats with 12-way adjustment, as well as individually heated front seats.
The V10 TDI has distinctive myrtle wood and aluminium inserts respectively in dashboard and doors. "Keyless Access" locking and starting system, electrically height-adjustable and telescoping steering column, and 19-inch alloy wheels with 275/45 low profile tyres, Bi-Xenon headlamps, four-zone climate control air conditioning and electrically adjustable front seats with 12-way adjustment and 3 position memory function.
Basically they are more comfortable than sitting in your lounge chair.
Use a key and use it in the normal fashion. We're used to it. It works. It's more efficient. END OF SIDEBAR >>
In the safety stakes, Touareg gets six airbags, Electronic Stability Control, ABS, ASR traction control and Electronic Differential Lock.
As far as luggage it swallowed a pram, port-a-cot, medium esky, two kids in cars seats, medium-sized suitcase, three overnight bags, four pillows, fishing rod and tackle box and a tub of surfboard wax and it was still below the rear seat height so the 555l of space is certainly usable.
With the rear seats folded you get 1570 litres of space to work with.
Our week or so with the Touareg was a special one, but we didn't get to really give it a good 4WD test as the good folks at Volks weren't exactly keen to see it on the beach for obvious reasons.
We gave it the cursory gravel, road, wet road, steep grassy slope, low-level hillclimb etc and it was impressive, and we're sure that it would be equally impressive on sand, but we can't exactly vouch for it without testing it.
A couple of lads who will be able to vouch for it will be American Mark Miller and South African Ralph Pitchford who at the time of writing were flogging one to bits to hold down eight position overall in the 2007 Paris to Dakar. Head to http://www.volkswagen.com.au/Dakar07/ for updates and to see just how non-standard this Touareg is!.
For those of you in the know, the vital stats are frontal slopes (45 degrees / 100 percent) and side slopes of up to 35 degrees. The ramp angle for driving over a hilltop is 22.1 degrees (Air suspension: 27.2 degrees), the overhang angle is 28.1 degrees (Air suspension: 33.2 degrees). The fundamental measure of off-road capability, i.e. maximum ground clearance, is 237 mm (300 mm with air suspension) which satisfies demanding off-road requirements.
For those of you who don't, these credentials mean it should be able to hold its head high and place it firmly in the off-roader rather than soft-roader category.
There's electronic selection of 4x4 modes and standard central differential lock. The chassis electronics automatically control its multidisc clutches.
Normally, drive is distributed 50:50 but up to 100 percent may be applied to front or rear. A rotary switch in the cockpit permits manual activation of the lock while an Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) adds fine-tuning to the distribution of drive.
Door seals designed to prevent the water intrusion, watertight headlamps and electrical connectors, as well as special intake air channels allow the Touareg to drive through water at depths of up to 500 mm (580 mm with air suspension).
Hill Holding Assistance counters the tendency of the vehicle to roll backwards when driving up a slope. On hills with greater than 20 percent grade its counterpart, the Hill Descent Assistance feature, uses braking intervention to keep vehicle speed constant and limit it to 20 km/h.
So how does it drive?
Bloody beautifully is the answer. For something with so much off-road capability and so much luxury it is a marvellous effort to drive so well with quite impressive ride and handling.
At 2250kg it's certainly not light either and yet responds nimbly and offers precise feedback through the steering wheel.
All round a great car. Give me this over a Prado Grande and the like any day of the week.