Volkswagen today took the wraps off its second-generation Touareg SUV that is slightly longer yet more than 200kg or 440 pounds lighter than its predecessor and will be offered right from the beginning with a clean, or rather cleaner, hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain.
Set for a Geneva Motor Show debut on March 2 with European sales to follow in April, the new 2011 Touareg shares most of its underpinnings with the forthcoming 2011 Porsche Cayenne.
At a first glance, it appears that the designers kept the basic shape of the current model and added a new face that's inspired from the firm's latest production and concept models such as the Golf VI, Polo and the NCC study.
Look closer though and you'll see that there's new sheetmetal everywhere with the most important stylistic changes concerning the lower roofline and the curvier profile lines.
The new interior is also in line with Volkswagen's latest design DNA featuring several novelties including a pushbutton parking brake, and according to the Germans, the largest panoramic sunroof of all SUVs.
The German firm said that the new Touareg is more spacious at the back adding that the rear bench now has 160mm in longitudinal adjustment and that the backrest angle can be adjusted.
Optionally, the rear seat can be electrically unlatched and folded down at the press of a button in which case, it frees up 1,642 litres of cargo space.
Perhaps the most important news about the 2011 Touareg is that Volkswagen managed to shave up to a whopping 208 kg or 459 pounds over the outgoing model.
Even so, the German automaker claims that the 2011 Touareg's body has five percent greater torsional rigidity than its predecessor.
At launch, the new Touareg will be available with three engines including two turbo diesels and a gasoline-electric hybrid, all of which are offered with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.
The range kicks off with a 3.0-liter V6 TDI diesel that churns out 240HP and 405 lb-ft of torque that returns 38.1mpg UK, 31.8mpg US or 7.4lt/100km on the combined EU cycle, with 195g/km of CO2.
Next up is the 4.2-liter V8 TDI diesel with 335HP and a massive 590 lb-ft of torque that is said to achieve a combined 31mpg UK, 25.8 mpg US or 9.1 lt/100km with 239g/km of CO2.
The highlight of the range is the new hybrid model that's mates a 3.3-liter supercharged V6 TSI producing 333HP and 265 lb-ft of torque with a 47HP electric motor for a combined output of 380HP and 428 lb-ft.
The Touareg Hybrid, that can be driven up to 50 km/h or 30 mph in purely electric mode, sprints from zero to 100km/h (62mph) in 6.5 seconds and returns a combined 8.2lt/100km which is equal to 34.4mpg UK and 28.7mpg US.
As for the standard all-wheel drive system, the base 4MOTION versions get a Torsen limited-slip differential (climbing ability: 31 degrees) and an "Off-road driving programme", which - at the press of a button - tunes the ABS, EDS and ASR for off-road duty, activates Hill Descent Assist and adjusts the automatic gearshift points.
Optionally, instead of a Torsen differential, the V6 TDI can be ordered with an "Terrain Tech Packet" that is said to have an even more rugged transfer case designed for off-road duty. It includes reduction gearing and centre and rear differentials, each with up to 100 percent locking (climbing ability: 45 degrees).
Like the first generation Touareg, this version also gets a rotary switch that allows the driver to adapt the car to specific duty conditions over five levels: 1. "On-Road"; 2. "Off-Road" (like "Off-road driving programme" plus automatic control of the mechanical locks); 3. Low (like "Off-road" plus activation of reduced gearing, higher shift points, no automatic upshift in manual mode); 4. Addition of centre differential lock; 5. Addition of rear differential lock.
More details will be released at the new Touareg's world premiere in Geneva.