Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE - it's a preview of next Touareg

Published: 25 April 2016

► First look at the next Touareg
► It's a plug-in hybrid techfest
► Not a single button in the digital cabin!

The new Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE has been revealed at the 2016 Beijing motor show - giving our best look yet at the next VW Touareg.

It's a plug-in hybrid techfest, showing how VW is pivoting around new technology and electrification in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal that's embroiled Wolfsburg for the past seven months. And the interior is so digital, there isn't a single button in the cabin, the company claims.

With the Touareg reaching its twilight years (the current iteration was launched in 2011), this gives our best look yet at the kind of technology being lined up for its successor.

Volkswagen's new full-size SUV: what we know

The new 'full-size SUV's footprint mimics that of the Touareg, rather than being even bigger for supersized markets such as the US.

It's a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), naturally, enabling a 30-mile electric driving zero-emissions range and Volkswagen quotes a fuel consumption figure of 94mpg from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI petrol engine.

The e-boost comes from a 280kW electric motor under the bonnet, combining with the combustion engine for a total of 516lb ft of twist: no wonder 0-62mph is dispatched in 6.0sec and top speed extends to 139mph. As ever with PHEV models, take those figures with a pinch of salt - use anything like the performance available and real-world economy will plummet, we suspect.

Full all-wheel drive is offered again, giving the future Touareg a degree of soft-roading ability. But of more relevance is the default E-mode, which means you'll always set off in silent electric drive.

Volkswagen's Curved Interaction Area

Inside: a digital overhaul

But as well as trumpeting the T-Prime's efficiency, Volkswagen is making a great play of the digital 'display and control concept... enabling a completely new range of interactivity.' There's gesture control, touchscreens, intelligent touch-sensitive surfaces and voice recognition - meaning there are no physical buttons whatsoever.

Pay special attention to the new 'Active Info Display and infotainment system merged under a sheet of transparent glass to become a Curved Interaction Area.' VW has merged the dials and central display behind a single sheet of glass - we've yet to play with it, but the company claims it's a step-change in how drivers interact with their cars.

Yep, the cabin is becoming a place to plug and play more than ever. And with the autonomous age just around the corner, we'll soon be entertained rather than concentrating behind the wheel... 

A VW SUV for all

The company has confirmed a raft of new crossovers coming: we've already driven the new Tiguan and soon it'll be joined by a new US and China-focused mid-sized SUV, the next Touareg and a pair of smaller SUVs - a Golf-sized one based on the T-Roc concept and a Polo-sized one similar to the T-Cross Breeze show car.

Click here for CAR's latest long-term test of the VW Touareg.

See the VW SUV concept at the Beijing motor show

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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