2024 VW Touareg Black Edition | PH Review

Does an oil-burning V6 still cut the mustard in VW's latest flagship?

By Nic Cackett / Wednesday, 13 December 2023 / Loading comments

When we last encountered the Touareg, it was in its then-new R format – a car that combined a 3.0-litre petrol V6 with an electric motor for 462hp of badge-justifying, emissions-assuaging performance. It was dutifully quick, predictably well-judged and about as interesting as flaking emulsion. ‘High on unyielding confidence and low on thrill’ Sam S concluded at the time, and he wasn’t wrong. So this time round, with a recent facelift pulling us back into the Touareg’s orbit, we’ve swerved the flagship and gone for something a bit more affordable. And a bit less crowd-pleasing. 

It is a sign of curious times that choosing the 3.0-litre V6 TDI no longer feels out of step with the PH way. Where previously a big oil burner might have been the staid and surly business user’s choice, now it looks like the against-the-grain option that only a canny old dog would consider. Not so long ago, of course, VW would insert a diesel engine in anything that moved; in 2023, ticking the black pump option on the configurator reduces your total options from 34 models to just nine. And two of those can only be bought from available stock. 

So the end is nigh. Even more so if you want the assuredness and gusto that comes with six cylinders. Back in 2019, we reflected on the fact that the Touareg was the final resting place of a petrol V6 in the VW lineup (and actually you can still have the latest one with the 340hp 3.0-litre unit) but that’s true of the diesel, too. Remarkably, you can still have it in two flavours: with 231hp and 368lb ft of torque or 286hp and 442lb ft. Naturally, we went for the latter on account of its ability to spirit VW’s largest available (over here) car to 62mph in 6.4 seconds – just 0.3 seconds shy of the equivalent petrol. 

The result, if you’ve been away from derv for a while as PH has, is a veritable time machine. Not just because this motor (in one form or another) has been installed in practically every Audi saloon going for the best part of 20 years, but because its ubiquity and long-standing familiarity make it a poster child for what seems like a bygone era (if we can call pre-2015 an era). The V6 does nothing particularly special – or nothing it hasn’t done a thousand times before – and yet its gruff willingness and burly mid-range provide the perfect grist to the Touareg’s determinedly conventional mill. 

Granted, it can’t quite mimic the sense of indefatigable brute strength you get from Land Rover’s range-topping 3.0-litre straight-six, but the V6 makes light work of its SUV burden nevertheless – so much so that once you’ve got it in the customary groove (i.e. pushed through the hesitancy that greets timid throttle inputs), you might find yourself romping along in a manner that tends to escape most petrol-electric powertrains. Perhaps that’s just because the husky six-pot is unmistakably oldfangled and bluntly knowable. Or probably it’s just better suited to the cumbersome business of powering a hefty, high-sided car. Either way, it seems an eminently more likeable model to drive than the previous R. 

In that respect, some credit must go to the chassis. This hasn’t fundamentally changed in the facelift – you still get height-adjustable air suspension from the mid-tier trim onwards – although VW claims it has benefitted from the introduction of a new load sensor in the roof and some associated retuning. Either way, it makes for a comfortable and capable steer. Much less sporting than the Cayenne which also sits on the MLB Evo platform – but only to the extent that it squares with your expectations. The Touareg never threatens to baffle you like the Porsche occasionally does; yet it rarely disappoints either. 

That sentiment encompasses the rest of the car, too. Its maker has moved the styling deckchairs around on that promenade of a front end, although it’s the illuminated VW logo at the back which tends to get all the attention. Absolutely we’d recommend going for the Black Edition tested on the basis that it swaps out all the chrome brightwork you get with the cheaper Elegance model, even if the standard 21-inch wheels do it no aesthetic favours. Again, the result is benignly handsome when you take the time to consider it. But like most Volkswagens, the Touareg is still more than happy to fade into the background. 

Modifications to the interior seem in even shorter supply. It is very much as before: right-sized for the average family, premium-minded without the aspirational stuffiness and is (shock) way too reliant on its touchscreen for access to basic functions. The sheer scale of the now standard 15-inch display saves it from some of VW’s more notorious shortcomings, although a Cayenne owner, treated to proper switchgear, would likely marvel at the usability distance between Porsche’s latest dashboard and the one installed in the Touareg. 

Traditionally, that would be like comparing a store-bought apple with a pint of draft cider, but it’s certainly worth mentioning that the pair are no longer separated by much on the asking price front – not if you’re happy with a petrol engine, at any rate. The starter grade Cayenne is virtually the same price as a Black Edition TDI. And if you’re sold on the idea of buying a diesel in 2023 – which the Touareg makes a sturdy case for – there is also the option of an Audi Q7 with exactly the same motor. In Black Edition 50 TDI costume, it starts at £71,525. Food for thought if you’re hoping to make an impression. If not, the latest Touareg does as good a job as it ever has. Ditto the V6. 


Engine: 2,967cc, V6, diesel
Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 286@3,500-4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 442@1,750-3,250rpm
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Top speed: 147mph
Weight: TBC
MPG: 34.4mpg
CO2: 215g/km
Price: £70,320

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