MY Sunday Drive
Joni wrote a loving article about the beast, 2002 Hummer H2. So I thought I'd counter with a short review of a more civilized, but still tough bugger, The 2003 Volkswagen Touareg.
It's slated for release here in the US in the second quarter of 2003 with a price tag starting at $35,000, so you'll have to hold your horses.
Speaking of horses, this baby has lots! The Touareg will be available with a 3.2-liter VR6 engine and a 5.0 liter V10 TDI engine. The VR6 engine has a power output of 220 bhp and develops up to 225 lbs-ft of torque. The world's most powerful passenger car diesel engine is the V10 TDI with unit injectors and bi-turbo charging. It has a power output of 313 bhp and develops an impressive 551 lbs-ft of torque at 1800 rpm! Talk about pulling power! Not only can you haul around damn near anything you'd want to, you could also pull yourself out of a nice mud bog in style. The Hummer? Only 360 lbs-ft. Well it beats the city driver VR6 engine, but can't hold a candle to the V10 TDI.
Before you start bad mouthing the TDI engine you should go drive one. They are no louder than their standard fuel cousins. They are clean, not blowing out big puffs of black sooty smoke. They have just as much get up and go as their cousins too. Lastly, unlike older diesels, you don't have to wait for the glow plugs to warm up. The electronic controls is this engine keeps it ready to roll in all weather. I can't honestly comment about it's extreme cold weather capabilities, but I can't imagine that it couldn't handle a vast majority of the weather conditions here in the States. A side note, there are very few TDIs sold in Canada.
With all this horse power you want this thing to be able to play hard. It can. It only has 11.8 inches of ground clearance, but can ford a stream or large puddle up to 23 inches deep. That's nearly two feet of water and or muck! With door seals designed to keep water out, waterproof headlights and connectors, a special guide for the intake air and engine ventilation, and sealed jointed shafts, the Touareg has little to worry about from a splash in the water.
Ever been on a hill, with a manual transmission vehicle and have to gun it so you don't stall or roll backwards from a stop? The Touareg doesn't have to worry about that. When starting up an incline, a hill-starting assistant in the manual gearbox provides support by holding the vehicle in position. Once the driver then engages the clutch, the braking force is successively reduced until the Touareg is securely in motion. On steeply declining grades, the engine/braking-torque support in the ESP system prevents undesirable vehicle acceleration. Cool huh?
The inclines can be pretty steep too - 45º! Ok so that 15º less than the Hummer, but even at these angles your tires and surface make as much difference as pure power. Given the right conditions I bet the Touareg can do 60º. Personally, I'd avoid those inclines! LOL
Luxury? “Functionality and stylistic elegance distinguish the spacious interior
The interior space and comfort are also first class. On the one hand, the Touareg interior is a prime example of well-designed functionality. On the other, it realizes an ambience whose elegance and contemporary styling used to be available only in the most luxurious sedans. As first introduced for the Phaeton, the Touareg is optionally available with a four-zone Climatronic, which even enables individual left and right climate control in the rear set. Another Touareg option is the keyless-access system (standard feature of the V10 TDI). With it, the driver always keeps the key - equipped with a transponder - in their pocket. The Touareg recognizes its driver via the transponder, releases the door when the driver touches the handle, and starts with the push of a button."
Ride? “In the premium model, the Touareg V10 TDI, a CDC (Continuous Damping Control) air suspension with continuous Skyhook damping control insures a degree of driving comfort - both on- and off-road - previously unachieved by off-road vehicles.” We've all riden or driven 4x4s before. We all know they are not exactly comfortable. VW made strong efforts to give the driver and passengers the best of both world's.
This thing is fast too! Reported to have a top speed of 155 mph (engine not reported). But even at these speeds it's going to be safe. With air suspension the ground clearance drops from 11.8 to 9.3 inches and another inch after hitting 77 mph. While this is hardly the stance of a sports car, it'll give the Touareg much better control by bringing its center of gravity down.
This is a pretty SUV to be sure. I dislike SUVs with a passion and here I am gushing about one! Of course it's a VW so I can't say anything bad about it. *grin*
Inside and out this bad boy has looks and muscles. While the Hummer is definitely more geared towards the outdoors, like the Land Rovers, we all know that the rich folks with more money than brains will buy them and drive them all over town like its some kinda status symbol. The smarter ones will be driving Touaregs and pulling them out of the mud when they get stuck. Hehehe