Ahead of the car"s full reveal next week, Volkswagen has again teased the upcoming Touareg SUV in a new close-up image.
The Ford Edge rival has previously been previewed in a design sketch, and this new shot displays the Touareg"s intricate LED light design. No details have been released, but appearances suggest the car uses the brand"s Matrix LED lighting system.
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Our first official glimpse at the next Touareg was a design sketch revealing the car"s side profile in full. The teaser image confirms that the production model won"t move too far away from the T-Prime concept revealed at the Beijing Motor Show, while new Volkswagen flagship design cues such as the full size grille extending into the headlights are present and accounted for.
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The Chinese SUV market is huge, and Volkswagen has decided to return to Beijing with the production model - the unveil event on 23 March will take place in the Chinese capital.
Our exclusive images take things a step further than the sketch, previewing how the new Touareg could look when the wraps come completely off.
The third-generation Touareg will take a marked leaped forward in terms of technology, design and connectivity and aim to give the brand a further push into a more premium market to help it rival the likes of Audi and BMW. Luxurious range-topping models could hit £70,000 as they aim to steal sales from the Range Rover, Auto Express understands.
Volkswagen is positioning itself as the more mainstream premium brand within the VW Group, and closer to the likes of Audi in terms of prestige than Skoda or SEAT. The first real push into that market comes with the Arteon – a rival for BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupé – but VW will dial up its premium image with the next Touareg.
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Dr. Elmar-Marius Licharz, VW’s head of product line for medium and full-size cars, told us last year: “It’s a big jump [the new Touareg] to catch what we think is premium for Volkswagen: young, connected and cool, this is the idea.”
The revamp starts with the exterior design; prototypes wearing minimal disguise show that the Touareg will adopt many of the styling cues which featured on the T-Prime GTE concept at last year’s Beijing Motor Show. Our images give you a clear idea of how the finished product will look; a huge chrome grille which bleeds into LED headlamps, deep air intakes and a more angular body will be its defining features. Licharz added: “The last Touareg’s design was not as aggressive compared with the first model. It [the new Touareg] will be much better looking – more of an SUV – so I think we have a big jump.”
Along with the new look, the next model will be considerably larger than the outgoing car. It will based on the VW Group’s MLB architecture, which also underpins the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga. The Touareg’s proportions will remain close to those of the T-Prime concept, so a wheelbase stretched by 100mm and an increase in overall length of around 200mm is to be expected. The new platform will also bring with it a new batch of six and eight-cylinder engines. Two versions of a new 3.0-litre V6 diesel are likely, developing around 215bhp and 270bhp respectively, while a larger V8 diesel will also be offered to buyers.
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Another new powertrain option will be a plug-in hybrid GTE, comprising a four-cylinder 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged engine and small electric motor. VW is targeting an all-electric range of around 30 miles.
While the company is taking a more evolutionary approach with the exterior design, the cabin will be a dramatic departure from VW’s current line-up. Licharz told us: “With the interior, it will come pretty closer to the T-Prime concept, which is interesting for us to see if this big digital platform will work inside the car.”
The cabin of the T-Prime concept featured a 15-inch display on the dash along with a completely digital instrument cluster, which is likely to make production. The idea is to offer buyers a more configurable and personalised interior space, with the customisable dash similar in theme to a smartphone. A 4G Internet hotspot will also feature.
Everything we know about the Touareg points to heavy influence from the T-Prime concept, and Auto Express had an exclusive tour of the concept before its reveal at the 2016 Beijing show. It looks considerably wider and lower than the existing Touareg - but senior Volkswagen sources told us then to expect the finished car not to change much.
“The wheelbase of the show car is an Audi Q7’s,” said Frank Thomas, VW’s sales and marketing boss for full-size vehicles, as we walk around the T-Prime in a studio in Hamburg, “so we’ll take a few millimetres out of the rear door length for the production car. If anything, we think the slightly shorter body makes the crease along the sides and the falling roofline look even more dramatic.”
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The front end certainly doesn’t lack drama, with a huge chrome-plate grille, deep air intakes and aggressive running lights that actually stretch right across the base of the VW badge. At the rear, there are neat tail-lights whose graphics reference the symbol often used to show a mobile phone’s signal strength - or, you could imagine, the amount of charge left in a plug-in hybrid’s batteries. The overall look is a more dynamic one than the current Touareg’s - particularly around the rear wheelarch, where there’s a subtle blister to create a stronger shoulder line.
Inside, the T-Prime’s cabin is a showcase for the future direction of Volkswagen interiors. The front is dominated by the huge touch-screen mounted in the centre of the dashboard but angled towards the driver. It’s a 15in display - as large as many laptops, in fact - and VW’s engineers plan to use the increased desktop space to allow levels of configuration previously unseen on a car interface.
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Sitting inside the concept, it’s clear that the switch to VW’s MLB chassis technology has helped the packaging; even with the lower roofline and the show car’s panoramic glass sunroof, there’s plenty of headroom for six-footers. “You sit very slightly lower than before,” admits Thomas, “and that makes all the difference with the headroom.”
The rear cabin is laid out in a two-seat format, with a large central tunnel between the pair of passengers and three more screens - one each on the back of the front headrests, and a portrait-oriented display low down near the centre console. The extra screens are not expected to make production - “We think our customers would rather have strong 4G connectivity for their own devices like iPads and smartphones,” says Thomas - but while the four-seat configuration will not be the Touareg’s standard layout, it could yet appear later in the car’s life.
“We are exploring the possibility of maybe a more luxurious version of the Touareg,” says Thomas. “It is now the global VW flagship [privately, VW sources say the prices of high-end, fully-optioned editions could even crack the £80,000 mark] so maybe there is the chance to do a four-seat version at some point, even more focused on luxury, with even higher-end materials and more complex stitching on the seats.” There will not be a seven-seat configuration, however.
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