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Old October 28th, 2002, 08:40 AM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
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I forgot to tell you that I saw a Cayenne last week...

I was driving home from Death Valley (from three days of four-wheeling, not coming back from a "world's lowest Boxsterfest") and I saw a dark (it was night) Porsche Cayenne on the 5 freeway near Magic Mountain

Of course it had Georgia plates (home state of PCNA's North American headquarters). Perhaps it was going to a show or to a dealership or to a press meeting...whatever.

I think we're going to see lots of them on the road but most of them will be VW's Touareg. Did you know that VW will build ALL the bodies for both VW (Touareg) and Porsche (Cayenne) and then Porsche will finish them off by adding exterior trim (nose, lights, badging), interiors and a whole bunch of profit to their window sticker.

These things are going to be great on the road and off road. They will (well, at least the VW Touareg) will have height adjustable suspension, center and rear locking differentials and lots more. With offroad tires these things will be formidible in the rough. And their street manners will be impeccable. VW has an amazing V10 diesel engine (with turbos I believe) that cranks out over 500 lb-ft of torque! And they're talking about putting their W12 motor into them as well.

Sounds to me like once folks find out about Touareg and Cayenne, the Cayennes that will be sold will go to those that want the Porsche badging and the high-end twin turbo V8 for hecka performance.

I'm still convinced that there will be many of the anti-SUV Porschefiles that will buy one (hoping the entire time that their friends and fellow boarders forget how they bashed the Porsche SUV).




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Old October 28th, 2002, 08:43 AM   #2
Magic Mtn Dan
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Re: I forgot to tell you that I saw a Cayenne last week...

00:01 Oct. 27, 2002)
Going in Style: Touareg takes VW not only off-road, but up-market

By ROGER HART

Ginger or Mary Ann?
That decades-old question of which of the doomed SS Minnow’s single females you prefer seems somehow bizarrely appropriate when talking about Touareg, Volkswagen’s entry into the sport/ute market. While the name Touareg still has us scratching our heads (it’s the name of a tribe of Sahara Desert nomads), the question of Ginger or Mary Ann seems relevant because the SUV was co-developed with Porsche’s entry into truckdom, the Cayenne.





2003 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG
ON SALE: May/June 2003
BASE PRICE: $35,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 3.2-liter, 220-hp 224-lb-ft V6; 4XMotion 4wd, six-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4903 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 9.9 seconds (mfr.)

An informal poll of former Gilligan’s Island addicts confirmed what we thought: Mary Ann. Definitely Mary Ann.
It’s true Ginger, er, Cayenne has a sultry, sexy twin-turbo 450-hp V8 beneath the hood, but the Stuttgart truck looks, well, like it’s trying a bit too hard. The same way Ginger looked when she donned the evening gown (which she had conveniently packed in her luggage for the Minnow’s three-hour cruise). Cayenne is trying to be a sports car in SUV sheetmetal.

Touareg, on the other hand, has the more wholesome, Germanic VW family look to it that makes you want to get to know it better. While it lacks starlet appeal, Touareg’s looks are based on the now familiar lines of those found in the Jetta, Passat and Phaeton. Despite the name, Touareg (say TOUR-egg) is someone you want to take home to meet the family.





The folks in Wolfsburg knew they were coming to the SUV party late. Development of Touareg (and Cayenne) began five years ago on an all-new platform with the two firms working together on the vehicles’ foundation, but everything else, including interior and exterior design and the engines, was left up to the individual companies.

Even though VW bills Touareg as a luxury SUV, it can take you just about anywhere you want to go off-road. With the optional air suspension, Touareg boasts nearly 12 inches of ground clearance.

Coming late to the party, or rather, watching the party from a safe distance, means you get to see how the other guests are dressed. VW engineers, under the direction of former VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, decided to emulate the on-road driving dynamics of BMW’s X5 and off-road abilities of Land Rover’s Range Rover.
Touareg’s wheelbase of 112.4 inches is right between the X5 (111 inches) and Range Rover (113.4 inches). The same for overall length, with the Touareg at 187.1 inches, between the X5 at 183.7 inches and Range Rover at 195 inches. The same goes for curb weight, with Touareg tipping the scales at 4903 pounds for the V6 model, with the X5 3.0 at 4533 pounds and Range Rover at 5379. The Range Rover is heavier due in part to the V8, the only engine option,under the hood. (The Touareg, with its optional twin-turbo V10 diesel, jumps up to 5553 pounds.)

We sampled both suspensions available: the standard “steel” suspension using conventional springs with dual-wishbones in both front and rear, and the optional CDC (Continuous Damping Control) air suspension. We preferred the air suspension, especially off-road. The standard suspension gives a firm ride, with less suspension travel available. A few times on extremely rough terrain, we bottomed out the steel suspension.

On-road, the ride is more luxury car than truck; even more so with the air suspension. The steering has a nice on-center feel and firms up as you enter corners. Off-road, the steering has enough feel to allow you to sense where you’re at on the trail, but enough boost to ease the steering effort in thick mud, rocky terrain or even traversing a stream.

Touareg’s exterior design gives the vehicle a subtle but aggressive stance, especially with the optional 18-inch wheels and tires.

The standard suspension gives Touareg a maximum ground clearance of 9.3 inches while the air suspension gives you 11.8 inches of ground clearance. The air suspension is similar to that on the Phaeton (AW, July , thus the vehicle actually lowers as you drive faster. Four height sensors continually measure the space between the axle and the body to keep the distance constant. This is done by way of solenoid valves, a compressor and two accumulators. (The compressor can also be used as a tire inflator via the supplied air hose.) With the air suspension, the vehicle’s normal road height is 8.4 inches and above 77 mph the suspension automatically drops to 7.4 inches. At 111 mph the suspension drops to seven inches. Four different height levels can be manually selected along with three different damping positions via a knob on the console near the gear lever.
The damping system, called Skyhook, uses an extensive array of sensors to detect body and wheel acceleration, reacting to the slightest unevenness in the ground and compensating for it by adjusting the shock absorbers. This damping system works to minimize the tendency for pitch and roll, even under extreme acceleration or braking. This feature was noticed during a couple of panic stops on the highway, where a substantial amount of brake-dive was expected but never occurred.

Ventilated four-wheel disc brakes (13.77-inch rotors up front, 13-inch in the back) are all around with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution and ESP standard. A foot-operated parking brake is part of the package.

The vehicle cabin seats five, the front pair in buckets that are firm and supportive. The buttery soft leather seats and matching door panel trim in our test vehicle were of a high quality, much like the rest of the interior, giving credence to Touareg project manager Matthias Kröll’s insistence that this is a luxury vehicle. Touareg will maintain VW’s reputation, maybe even raising the bar a bit higher, for standard-setting interiors.
For the European launch of Touareg, two engines are available: a 3.2-liter V6 gasoline engine and a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V10 diesel powerplant. The V6 develops 220 hp at 5400 rpm and 224 lb-ft at 3200 revs. The diesel produces 313 hp at 3750 rpm and a massive 553 lb-ft at just 2000 rpm. The U.S. market will get the V6 (we reported July 15 that the small engine would not be coming to the States) and a 4.2-liter V8.

Plans call for VW’s W12 engine to come to the States, and company officials are working to bring the diesel. This would be a good thing. For one, the V10 delivers 24 mpg (the V6 gasoline engine delivers about 19 mpg), and with a 26-gallon fuel tank, that gives the nearly three-ton vehicle a range of more than 600 miles. It also has a 7000-pound towing capacity, putting it in the top echelon of trailer-towing SUVs.

Also, the engine could well change how people think about diesels. There is minor diesel clatter at startup, but after that, you’re hard-pressed to know you’re driving a diesel. We noticed no plume of diesel soot spewing out of the exhaust and no objectionable odor. As far as driving, well, 553 lb-ft of torque ready to be released at your command is something to behold. It will take you to 60 mph in about seven seconds. To make it even better, the exhaust has been tuned so that it actually sounds like a growling V8 muscle-car mill when you’re hard on the throttle. You’ll need to recalibrate your internal rev-counter, however, as this beast redlines at a meager 4200 rpm. From that standpoint, it’s more John Deere than Ferrari.

All that power is routed through a six-speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic (steering column mounted paddle shifters are optional) and an all-wheel-drive system called 4XMotion, a four-wheel-drive system using a transfer case. All Touaregs come standard with a central differential lock, while a rear-axle differential lock is optional. Normal power distribution is 50-50, but 100 percent of the power can be transferred to one of the two axles, depending upon traction. A switch on the console activates the differential locks.

Inside, wood and leather dominate the cabin with space for five. Special seals around the doors and lights allow Touareg to handle water nearly 20-inches deep.

For our off-road stint, Jorge Salvador, who competed many times in Camel Trophy events, was riding shotgun to make sure we didn’t get into trouble on the course set up at the SIP Outdoor Activities headquarters outside Bassella, Spain. SIP is a rally team run by two brothers, and the Outdoor Activities track can be rented by the hour or the day. (Mental note: These Catalans know how to have fun.)
“You will be surprised what this vehicle can do,” Salvador said. He was right. The off-road track consisted of a variety of exercises greased up by heavy rain the day before. With the track having the consistency of pudding, the Touareg, on the optional all-season Bridgestone 255/55R-18s (17-inch wheels and tires are standard), walked up 45- degree inclines and crawled back down the other side. It easily handled the muddy ruts and 45-degree side-angle hills.

But on the trails in the surrounding foothills, the Touareg’s off-road prowess really shined. With approach and departure angles of 28 degrees and nearly 12 inches of ground clearance, the vehicle easily crawled over rocks and deeply rutted trails and crossed a couple of streams. The doors have extra seals and all the engine electronics and intakes are mounted as high in the engine bay as possible, allowing Touareg to drive through water nearly 20 inches deep. On several steep declines, the automatic hill descent kicked in, keeping the vehicle at a constant speed. On only one occasion were we unable to climb a hill, and that was because we approached too slowly and the vehicle lost all traction at the top. We had to remember we were running on all-season tires. We also remembered only a fraction of Touareg owners will ever attempt what we were doing off-road.

Touareg came about because VW wants to be a “full-range supplier” of vehicles, according to Jüergen M. Osmer, head of sales and marketing.

“[Touareg] improves the image of the brand.” With the SUV market continuing to grow, “we don’t want to lose customers,” Osmer said.

VW expects to sell 65,000 Touaregs in the first year of production, with more than half—33,000—slated for North America. U.S. prices will be announced closer to when the vehicle goes on sale in the second quarter of next year, but the V6 Touareg debuts in Germany for $38,700 while the V10 is selling for $67,000. Volkswagen of America officials said they expect to price the V6 below $35,000, with the V8 below $45,000.

One potential problem: Touareg comes with no option for a third-row seat, something many U.S. and Japanese SUV makers are making standard. VW officials say making a vehicle big enough for the third row diminishes the driving dynamics. As it is, Touareg is no lightweight, despite extensive use of aluminum and plastic in places where steel used to be found.
VW waited a long time to get into the profitable SUV market and has built a solid, comfortable, capable truck to compete with BMW and Range Rover.

The sultry, evening-gowned Ginger may look like she’s ready for a good time on a Saturday night, but the consensus is more people would choose to settle down with Mary Ann for the long haul.




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