New Volkswagen Touareg dazzles at Middle East debut
Volkswagen Middle East - the regional office of Europe’s largest car manufacturer - 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.
A specially selected group of media attendees 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 and Qatari Volkswagen Motorsport rally champion - Nasser Al Attiyah. 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.
One of the key drivers in a hat-trick victory for the Volkswagen Race Touareg at the Dakar Rally 2010 in January this year, Qatari Volkswagen Motorsport driver Nasser Al Attiyah, was also on hand to lend support for the launch and provide driving tips to the media during test-drives.
“The new Touareg is a magnificent machine. Driving a car that’s so smooth and comfortable is a welcome and pleasant change compared to my Spartan Race Touaregs 2 and 3, which are built for battle and afford none of the luxury, ride, comfort and special features offered by this terrific SUV,” enthused Nasser Al Attiyah. “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.
The New Touareg’s Green Credentials
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¡ from Behbehani Motors Company in Kuwait.
The New Touareg Going Airborne
Men’s Passion was amongst a select group of media invited to the launch of the new Touareg. Our Managing Director, Zeina Mokaddam, spent a day in the sun with the car. Here she shares the experience:
The excitement over the new Touareg started to build up way before the unveiling of the car itself.
After a fascinating helicopter ride over the skyscrapers of Dubai, we landed in the middle of the desert, somewhere in the outskirts of Ras Al-Kheymieh.
There, awaiting us was one of the most refined, luxurious and relaxing set-ups; the Banyan Tree Resort. Spacious, elegant with a private infinity pool in every villa, I started wondering if the Touareg will live up to all the hyped up set-up!
At 8:30 pm we were all asked to gather up for the unraveling. To add to the magical experience, Gaston, a world famed illusionist was brought in just for the occasion.
Finally at around 9:30 pm that same day, all eyes locked on the new Touareg. Examining it closely, one was able to see all the efforts put into the new model, but nothing prepared us to what was to come the next day!!
We were promised an off-road experience and frankly this was not my first, so my expectations weren’t that high.
At 10 am, 20 new Touaregs set off on the virgin, tricky, sandy roads. I was enjoying the ride, both as a driver and a passenger, but in all honesty I wasn’t feeling anything extraordinary until…until...
Well imagine this, you are asked to step on the paddle to go forward into the void, into the limitless horizon!!
I do not have such a strong heart! Loving adventure, I accepted to stick to the passenger seat while my colleague, an Australian car enthusiast, took on the wheel. I accepted to stay in the car but I was dreading the moment the car would actually fly!
Being airborne in a helicopter was one thing, but in a Touareg??
Well, let us say, my heart literally stopped, my mouth flew open with a silent cry and a surge of pure and ultimate adrenaline rush gripped me!! In that split second, the Touareg was airborne!!
I don’t know what the car has done to deserve all the abuse we put it under, but I tell you one thing, this Touareg knows how to handle obstacles and how to face challenges!!
Looks, power and ready for the next adventure, yes I am still talking about the Touareg!
Discover it yourself.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #25 October 2010