New Volkswagen Touareg dazzles at Middle East debut

Published September 27th, 2010 - 03:43 GMT

Volkswagen Middle East – the regional office of Europe's largest car manufacturer – has launched its most technically innovative model ever, the new Touareg, at an exclusive media unveiling ceremony and dinner held in the UAE.

The launch establishes the Middle East as one of the first markets to distribute the completely redeveloped flagship petrol engine Volkswagen sport utility vehicle, which unites the world of off-road vehicles with the comfortable dimensions of a luxury sedan and the dynamic attributes of a sports car.

Approximately 100 media attendees from across the region were treated to an aerial tour of Dubai and helicopter transfer across the desert to the new Banyan Tree Al Wadi Hotel & Resort, Ras Al Khaimah, where the new Touareg was unveiled by senior Volkswagen officials. The following day allowed media to be the first in the region to get behind the wheel and experience a taste of the new luxury SUV's innovative capabilities, kicking off dune-bashing and tarmac-shredding test drives from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai.

With characteristics that will prove popular with Middle East customers, the new era Touareg is longer, lighter, sleeker, safer, and roomier than its predecessor. Now weighing 208 kilograms less than before, the nimble new Touareg manages to attain 1,642 litres of cargo space despite its improved aerodynamic design, and large variety of new assistance and safety systems.

World first innovations include bi-xenon headlights with Dynamic Light Assist, and a standard 8-speed automatic transmission – the first of its kind in the world in the SUV segment. The plethora of new innovations also include a pushbutton parking brake, automatic Stop-Start engine shut-off system, electronic oil level display, panoramic sunroof – the largest ever used on an SUV, multi camera operated Area View safety system, Lane and Side Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) plus Front Assist, automatic tailgate, and proactive occupant protection.

At the unveiling of the new Touareg, Stefan Mecha, Managing Director of Volkswagen Middle East, said "About 500,000 drivers chose to buy the first generation of the Touareg worldwide, and it quickly established itself as our flagship vehicle in the region after its Middle East debut in 2003."

"Seven years later, the new Touareg has taken its winning concept into the future and heralds a paradigm shift in the idea behind multipurpose SUVs. This, combined with the Touareg's existing popularity, has generated overwhelming interest already. The Touareg is the keystone of our regional plans, and is integral to expanding our Middle East presence," continued Mecha. "With its combination of stunning looks, world first innovations, and environmentally friendly economical technologies, the new Touareg is sure to become the new champion amongst SUVs in the region."

Fuel economy and emissions values are significantly improved on the conventionally powered Touareg petrol engine version. The petrol engine has a new thermal management system to guarantee that the proper operating temperature is reached quicker, which is important in attaining better fuel economy especially on short driving trips.

The new Touareg also boasts a range of engines that are nearly 20 percent more fuel efficient, and is the first and only SUV of European origin to be available in a hybrid version.

Optimised V6 FSI consumes 2.5 litres less petrol per 100 kilometres

The new Touareg will initially be available in the Middle East with a V6 FSI, a direct-injection petrol engine with 206 kW /280 hp. At 9.9 l/100 km, the 3.6-litre engine with 360 Newton-metres torque now consumes an incredible 2.5 litres less than the previous version. This combined fuel consumption is equivalent to CO2 emissions of 236 g/km. That is precisely 60 g/km less than before.

A more powerful V8 engine version will be launched in Q1 2011.

World's first SUV with 8-speed automatic

All Touareg versions are now shifted by a standard 8-speed automatic transmission – the first of its kind in the world in the SUV segment. The 7th and 8th gears are laid out as fuel-efficient overdrive gears. The 8th gear reduces engine speed by 34 percent compared to 6th gear. That saves on fuel and reduces emissions.

One of the most innovative and safest passenger cars of all times

The new Touareg is not only one of the most sustainable SUVs in the world, but also one of the safest passenger vehicles of all times.

A world first: Bi-xenon headlights with Dynamic Light Assist: This camera-based continuous main beam headlight actually "sees" oncoming traffic and automatically adjusts the main beam to eliminate unwanted glare. The enhanced safety and convenience offered by Dynamic Light Assist is as significant as the introduction of Xenon technology itself once was.

In conjunction with a camera integrated behind the front windscreen, the main beam lighting modules of the bi-xenon headlights are continually active; they are only dimmed in those areas in which the system has analysed a potential disturbance to other drivers in traffic. This gives the driver significantly more light and therefore a clear gain in safety and driving convenience.

The real highlight takes effect at speeds from 65 km/h: With the front camera, the cornering light control module detects the vehicle ahead and "shifts" the light beam just up to its rear end or in some situations lateral to the car – without bothering the other driver with unwanted glare.

Area View: The new Area View is a surroundings monitoring system being introduced for the first time at Volkswagen. Via four cameras (in the tailgate, outside mirrors and radiator grille) Area View transfers images of all of the Touareg's surroundings to the central touch screen in the centre console. Several images can be displayed simultaneously by split screen here.

The control module also creates a high-resolution composite image of the surroundings from the four individual camera images – from the bird's eye perspective of a virtual camera located above the vehicle. Depending on the selected view, static and dynamic auxiliary lines are shown. These auxiliary lines are used to help the driver better assess distances, to describe the possible driving path based on the steering angle or to show a recommended driving manoeuvre.

In off-road driving, front and side cameras are used by Area View to transfer images directly in front of and next to the vehicle − which is of inestimable value to the driver on extreme trails.

Another example of the wide array of Area View capabilities is the "Cross Traffic" view. This function introduces a new dimension to enhanced safety. The reason: For the first time, Area View lets the driver see 90 degrees to the left and right at points located at the very front and rear of the Touareg – i.e. "around the corner" – and view traffic situations that would otherwise only be perceptible by "incrementally" moving the vehicle for a better view. This is enabled by the 180-degree wide-angle lens of the front and rear cameras.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) autonomously controls the safe distance to traffic ahead of the vehicle – a cruise control that not only accelerates but also brakes to a stop in an emergency. The space in front of the vehicle is monitored by two radar sensors.

On an open road, ACC can theoretically accelerate the car up to a speed of 250 km/h. If a slower vehicle appears in the car's own driving lane, the system automatically brakes to maintain the legally prescribed safe distance ahead. The driver can calibrate this distance over four levels and choose one of three driving programmes ("Standard"/"Comfort"/"Dynamic").

When the driver activates the indicator lights on the motorway, the system detects this and improves vehicle dynamics under consideration of traffic behind the car. On the other hand, if the vehicle in front decelerates to a stop, the Touareg also brakes and stops behind it. If the driver in front then drives off again within three seconds, ACC automatically follows ("Stop&Go").

If the stopped condition lasts longer, by pressing the "Resume" button on the steering wheel the driver can activate a longer time window of 15 seconds – during which the vehicle will automatically follow. This "closing-ranks" function is very helpful in a traffic jam, comfortably closing the gap to the car ahead. This new "Stop&Go" functionality offers substantial convenience and even makes ACC appealing in city traffic.

For the first time at Volkswagen, the Adaptive Cruise Control ACC system in the new Touareg is now − via the driver assistance package – not only networked with the surroundings monitoring system Front Assist, rather with an entire range of other systems as well.

They include the new functions "Stop&Go", automatic emergency braking (ANB), and the new Proactive occupant protection system (belt tensioning for driver and front passenger by electric motor, closing of windows and the panoramic sunroof in advance of potentially hazardous situations).

Front Assist: As a surroundings monitoring system integrated in ACC, Front Assist helps to avoid collision accidents. It initiates appropriate protective measures well in advance of a critical situation. For example, it builds up sufficient pressure in the brake system and preconditions the hydraulic brake assist. In case of acute danger, the driver is then made aware that action needs to be taken to defuse the situation by visual and acoustic warnings and a brief pulse of the brake pedal.

If the driver does brake as expected at this moment, the Touareg automatically generates as much brake pressure as is necessary to avoid a collision. Under optimal constraints (activation time, driving situation, road grip) it is possible to avoid a front-end collision. If the driver decides to avoid the obstacle by steering, the vehicle's dynamics are improved by stiffer damper tuning (on vehicles with air suspension).

If the driver does not react after the warning pedal pulse, however, braking deceleration is initiated until the pre-defined reaction time expires. If the driver still remains passive, deceleration is increased. If a collision is unavoidable, an emergency braking function is activated to reduce the severity of the accident. The hazard lights system is also automatically activated.

Lane Assist: The lane-keeping assistant Lane Assist also operates camera-based. If there is a risk that the car will leave the lane without a indicator light activation, the system warns the driver by steering wheel vibration and a visual representation of the detected and crossed over lane markings in the multifunction display of the instrument cluster. The system consists of a camera located between the roof liner and the rear-view mirror and a vibration motor in the steering wheel.

The camera detects visible lane markings (markings on one side are sufficient) and computes the risk of leaving the lane. When activated, Lane Assist is active from speeds of over 65 km/h – i.e. outside of the city limits. The system is deactivated when the vehicle's speed drops below 60 km/h.

Two 24-GHz radar sensors at the rear of the Touareg scan the approaching traffic in the rear area. LEDs in the door mirrors inform the driver when other vehicles approach (a) in the blind spot (Blind Spot Detection) or (b) extremely quickly (Lane Change Assist). If the indicator light is activated during this informational stage, this suggests an intentional lane change and therefore a potential hazard. The now bright flashing of the LED in the door mirror signals the driver of the potentially dangerous situation.

Additional innovations

Already standard equipment in the base version is a radio-CD and info system that is intuitively controlled via a 6.5-inch touch-screen. The top version offers a radio-navigation system with a 60 Gigabyte hard drive and 3D representation of buildings.

Also offering protection are up to nine airbags, and Side Assist warns of vehicles approaching from the rear when changing lanes. The parking brake is now activated by pushbutton. The V6 engine automatically shuts off at traffic lights and restarts as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal (Stop-Start system). The V6 versions gather valuable kinetic energy during braking and coasting and store it.

The oil dipstick has now been retired: The engine oil level is displayed electronically in this Touareg. As an option, the tailgate can be opened and closed automatically. The Touareg can also be specified with a large panoramic sunroof – the largest ever used on an SUV − to provide maximum light in the cabin even on overcast days.

Lighter in weight and more aerodynamic

As has already been accomplished on the globally successful, crossover SUV, the Tiguan, Volkswagen is systematically striving for sustainability on the large Touareg too. The first precondition for sustainability has been met in the Touareg's significantly more fuel-efficient engines.

The second precondition has been met as well: The weight of the base model Touareg has been reduced by 208 kilograms. A quantum leap. Yet, the body has five percent greater torsional rigidity, which makes it the leader in its competitive class. The third precondition has also been achieved: improved aerodynamics that reduces wind resistance against the vehicle.

Along with aerodynamic refinement measures, another factor at work here is that this Touareg sits lower to the ground than the previous model. This, together with a front end in the style of the new Volkswagen Design DNA, results in a smaller frontal area.

All-wheel drive in two versions

Another element that has been modified in the quest for reduced fuel consumption is the Touareg's standard all-wheel drive. In the base version (4MOTION), all new generation Touaregs have all-wheel drive with Torsen limited-slip differential (4MOTION; 31 degree climbing gradient). The Touareg also has an "Offroad driving programme", which − via a two-position rotary switch − tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty, activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts shift points of the automatic gearbox.

More space for everyone

Volkswagen has not only made the new Touareg a lighter, more fuel efficient and agile performer; it has become an even more versatile, all-round vehicle. The new interior was made more functional, the seats more comfortable and legroom in the rear is increased by 41 millimetres thanks to an extension of the wheelbase to 2,893 millimetres.

Now the rear bench seat has 160 millimetres in longitudinal adjustment, and the backrest angle can be altered. As an option, it can be electrically unlatched at the press of a button; it then folds down in seconds to free up 1,642 litres of cargo space.

Aesthetically stunning design

The new Touareg has made dynamics strides – not just with regard to its engines, but also in its looks. The latter are of course attributable to its new styling and – associated with this – an even sportier layout of proportions.

The team led by Volkswagen design head Klaus Bischoff, set out to give the Touareg a significantly more elegant appearance based on the new Volkswagen Design DNA. This applies as much to the new horizontally aligned front end with its distinctive headlights as it does to the rear section typical of the Touareg and its unmistakable night-time rear light design and leaner, athletic body. This has resulted in an SUV that has a sustainable visual effect, timeless styling that makes a qualitative statement, showing dynamic proportions and presence, yet remaining reserved in its elegance and style.

The new Volkswagen Design DNA has provided the new concept for the "face" of all new models – providing a clear horizontal structure and orientation. Key elements here are the black, high-gloss trim of the upper radiator grille with its continuous chrome trim strips, the headlights that are always visually integrated in these lines, the middle level of the bumper painted in car colour, and a U-shaped and lower air inlet framed nearly entirely in chrome trim as a third level. The new Touareg, however, displays its own unique visual character − unmistakably.

In the frontend styling of the Touareg, designers implemented the new Volkswagen face for the first time in a luxury class vehicle. The modulation of the V-shaped bonnet and the dominant shoulder line underscore the rugged, powerful appearance of the Touareg, while the clarity of its surfaces emphasise in parallel, the elegance of the new SUV.

The horizontal band − consisting of the relatively flat grille, the VW logo integrated there and the trapezoidal headlights − defines the superior character of the Touareg and is at the same time a key element of the vehicle's Design DNA. The styling of the lower of the two chrome inserts that are worked into the radiator grille is continued into the headlights that narrow toward the grille.

These dual headlights with their complex, technically styled inner lives are both visual and technical highlights. They are available in three versions: as halogen headlights, bi-xenon headlights and for the first time in the world as bi-xenon headlights with Dynamic Light Assist (continuous main beam).

Beneath the middle section of the bumper that is painted in body colour are the lower air intakes. Located in the bumper's lowermost segment are the front fog lights and the radar sensors of the optional adaptive cruise control system (ACC plus Front Assist).

Thanks to the lower body height, short overhangs, a dynamic line of side windows and the clear sculpting of its surfaces, in contrast to other SUVs this car's side profile does not in the least have a massive appearance. Instead, the car body tapers slightly in the area of the doors, just like on a sports car.

Just as beautiful in form as they are practical are the outside mirrors with integrated indicator lights and the door handles that open in the pulling direction and are therefore crash optimised. Roof railings in black or chrome are available as an option.

Even from the rear, the new Touareg is immediately recognisable, even without its signature. The reason: Designers took the look of the first Touareg and intentionally developed it further without ignoring the previous model. In this process, Volkswagen styling avoids short-lived effects and is based on a continuous evolution. It also gives a Volkswagen longer life and more stable value retention than many other cars.

Like the front end, the rear of the new Touareg is also marked by horizontal lines. At the top, the tailgate has a spoiler that was styled to aerodynamic criteria, which simultaneously extends the roof section visually. The large rear window extends into the D pillars; the tailgate can be automatically opened by an electric motor as an option.

Parts of the tail lights were integrated in the tailgate. These inboard segments each exhibit a second tail light as well as the reversing light. Once again located centrally between the lights is the VW logo. Only the middle section with the tailpipes of the exhaust system integrated on its left and right ends is treated in black.

At 4,795 millimetres the new Touareg has become 41 millimetres longer, but its height of 1,709 millimetres is now 17 millimetres lower. Just like the length, the wheelbase increased to 2,893 millimetres (gain of 38 millimetres). The Touareg's width grew by 12 millimetres to 1,940 millimetres.

Touareg Hybrid can drive up to 50 km/h on pure electric power

The Touareg is also the first Volkswagen SUV, and first SUV in Europe, offered in a hybrid version (V6 TSI plus E-motor). When the V6 TSI and E-motor work simultaneously (boosting), a total power of up to 279 kW /380 hp is generated with a maximum torque of 580 Newton-metres as measured on the dynamometer. Yet, it sets standards among fully off-road capable SUVs with petrol engines with a fuel consumption value of just 8.2 litres fuel per 100 kilometres. The Touareg Hybrid can be driven up to 50 km/h in purely electric mode − emissions-free. Like all Touaregs, the hybrid version is also designed for trailer payloads of up to 3.5 tonnes.

The new Touareg is now available at all Volkswagen Middle East partners across the region. 

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