Volkswagen Touareg R-Line: Understated luxury

VOLKSWAGEN as the “People’s Car” takes a very different perspective here today compared to the early days in the 1960s and 1970s.

Adopting this promotional line in this modern day and time “by going back to basics” is well and good although the target customer group is certainly not as layman as originally intended.

Given its price portfolio, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) interprets this “People’s Car” image as an alternative brand to those with money to buy premium cars but who do not want stand-out marques like Mercedes-Benz or BMWs.


Take the latest Touareg R-Line model that was launched here in March, the target buyers are those with small businesses who would rather buy something that would put them “below” the radar’ among premium car owners.

Make no mistake about that as at a shade under RM470,000 on the road without insurance, the Touareg R-Line easily rubs shoulders with the premium class SUV rivals.

Nevertheless, that set the tone for the media drive from the Klang Valley to the Gambang area in Pahang, where we did light river crossings and dirt track driving.

Generally, those are not the road conditions one would take a premium class Touareg R-Line through but for small business owners with plantations and construction sites, anything is possible, right?


It did provide a new perspective to premium sports utility vehicle SUV) drive impressions, especially for a flagship variant.

For one, you are looking at an upmarket SUV that shares its platform with the luxurious Bentley Bentayga or to a lower extent, the Audi Q5 and Porsche Cayenne, as they all come under the Volkswagen umbrella.

But as the “People’s Car”, the Touareg R-Line comes as a cheaper alternative in this market segment against its “comrades in arms” as well as rival brands.

With this in mind, the Touareg R-Line has a lot going for it as a premium class SUV, especially for one that is assembled for the first time outside of Bratislava, Slovakia where it is built.


It’s as if Volkswagen is taking a cue from Porsche that also has the Cayenne being locally assembled for the first time out of Germany in Malaysia.

Being the latest version, the new Toaureg R-Line comes with a sharpened look with the radiator grille, headlamps and front apron carrying new designs.

Here the Touareg R-Line is said to “redefine lighting technology” with the new IQ Light HD Matrix headlamps, hailed as one of the world’s best.

The intelligent system has more than 38,000 interactive micro-LEDs (light emitting diodes) that is said to illuminate the road more precisely than before.


Added to that the Night Vision, a first for Volkswagen in Malaysia, which uses an infrared sensor in the front camera to detect thermal signatures from humans or animals up to 130 metres ahead.

The rear styling is also ‘sharpened’ with a continuous horizontal LED strip that joins the rear lamp clusters.

Another new feature is that the centrally located Volkswagen logo (VW) is illuminated in red, something that was once carried only in China and the US.

To stamp its status, the “R” insignia is carried on the doors and front grille and underlying its stance are the Braga 20-inch alloy wheels with enhanced chrome detailing.


In dimensions, the Touareg R-Line has no lack of length (4,878mm), width (1,984mm) or height (1,717mm) in body size that sits on a long 2,899mm wheelbase.

We got a better perspective on entering the vehicle as we enjoyed the interior expanse in good legroom, elbow room and headroom.

It might not have the opulence of a Bentayga but it wouldn’t be far off from the Q5 or Cayenne in interior ambience and equipment.


The premium feel comes from the leather wrapped seats, gear shift knob and steering wheel with ambient lighting to lift the mood, Volkswagen says its Touareg R-Line boasts an immersive “concert hall” experience too with the 730W Dynaudio Consequence sound experience powered by an 80W amplifier.

This is supported by 13 speakers located strategically around the cabin with a sub-woofer in the boot floor.

To enjoy this audio extravaganza, you need a quiet running vehicle and the Touareg R-Line didn’t disappoint here.


During the highway drives, the sound insulation for the passenger cabin is about as good as it gets for a premium SUV and we enjoyed music at its best when that was selected.

The low level of noise intrusion from road and body air turbulence allowed normal conversation between front and rear occupants.

There was no lack of oomph in moving and standing acceleration, what with the 3.0-litre V6 TSI engine giving a reasonably hefty 340PS (250kW) and 450Nm of torque.


Hit the paddle and you could feel the fairly strong G-force pushing you against the seats as the Touareg R-Line picked up the pace quickly to overtake.

Complement that with an eight-speed automatic and we enjoyed some low engine speed cruising at around 2,00rpm plus for a fairly robust pace, without burning up too much fuel.

It has gas suspension and all-wheel drive, plus suspension modes from comfort to sport, that we could choose from.


Comfort mode provided a cushy ride albeit with a slight floaty feeling while Sport mode was more preferable for the firm footing without making ride any less uncomfortable.

For the winding stretches, we felt that the slight understeer in taking corners with the 4Motion All-Wheel Drive system had tempered our gusto in exploring its dynamic handling qualities.

For the off-road venture, we tried out the Hill Descent Control where possible and that worked fine.


We duly selected Offroad via the rotary dial on the centre console (next to it is the ride height selector while suspension damping is selected via the touchscreen multi-info display) for our venture on dirt roads.

Had it rain the day before, which would turn the off-road section into a muddy trough, the experience would have been a lot more challenging and fun.

The Touareg R-Line’s air suspension system comes with automatic self-levelling that adapts vehicle height to match terrain conditions.

The few river crossings were done with little fanfare being shallow ones and hardly tested the Touareg R-Line for what it was said to be capable of an impressive wading level of 550mm.


The comfort suspension setting for the off-road drive absorbed the rough impacts well to provide the small business towkay a comfortable survey of his estate.

This top-of-the-range Touareg R-Line comes fully equipped with a full array of active and passive safety systems, including the Front Cross Traffic Alert that is not a common item.

On road or off road, this drive experience has convinced us on the Touareg R-Line’s quality to impress its target customers with an attractive price to boot.

Autos Volkswagen