A replacement for the big and not terribly popular Touareg, an all-new mini off-roader based on the Polo and a seven-seat version of the Tiguan – Volkswagen has still found time to expand and enhance its range of off-roaders.
Let’s start at the top, with the new VW Touareg
The big and heavy Touareg is not the sales success VW hoped for – certainly not in America. Touareg II – codenamed VW726, and out in 2010 – looks unlikely to change this, as it's basically a rebodied version of the current car, albeit one that meets Porsche’s demands for the Cayenne replacement (also coming in 2010) and Audi’s requirements for the second-gen Q7 (2013).
Let me guess – bigger and heavier?
One, but not the other. Length and wheelbase will both grow by about 50mm on the second-gen Touareg and it will feature what insiders call ‘a clean looking Bauhaus-style’ design with a pronounced wedgy profile and hints aplenty from the current R50 Touareg. Intelligent use of lightweight materials will shed 150kg off the Touareg’s 2050kg kerbweight, and there will be two versions – a Track and Field (for serious off-roading) and a lighter Sport and Style (for shopping at Waitrose).
Let’s talk engines for the new Touareg…
Petrol power comes from the new 280bhp 3.0-litre VR6 and 350bhp 4.2-litre V8, both with FSI direct injection, joined by a trio of diesels – a 190bhp 2.7 V6, a 240bhp 3.0 V6 and 326bhp 4.2 V8, all hooked up to six-speed automatics. Expect the 350bhp V10 TDI to be cleaned up and arrive in three very different applications – the new Porsche Cayenne, the Continental Flying Spur and Audi’s R8 V10.
Expect a hybrid Touareg to arrive early in the VW726’s lifecycle. We're talking electric power mated to the VR6 petrol engine for 30mpg and a CO2 rating of 230g/km. Hardly going to win Brownie points from Greenpeace, but better than today's efforts.
What about this new VW Polo SUV?
Volkswagen’s mini mud-plugger arrives in 2011, a full two years after Skoda’s equivalent Yeti arrives due to its switch to the new modular MQB components set, which means it'll be cheaper to build and develop than the Polo’s current chassis. And when we say mini, we're talking relatively; the Polo SUV measures a full four metres in length…
Tell me it won't be like the Dune, please…
No, the Polo off-roader will be fully equipped – only low-range transfer case and mechanical diff locks are off the menu. Armed with a 4Motion set-up with variable torque split between the axles and between the wheels, plus all the climb-and-descent assistance systems introduced in the Tiguan should let it tackle pretty much anything in its path with ease. A front-wheel drive version will also be available.
What about engines?
The off-road Polo gets a trio of new 1.6 turbodiesels, rated at 75bhp, 90bhp and 105bhp, while the smallest petrol engine is a direct-injection 70bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder, followed by a 85bhp 1.4 litre four. In Twincharger guise, the 1.2 pumps out 105bhp and the range is topped by a turbocharged 1.4 TFSI which churns out 122bhp.
And what lies in store for the VW Tigaun?
In 2009, the Tiguan will get a seven-seat option, but only for the Chinese market – the rest of us will have to wait until 2013 when the replacement seven-seat Tiguan arrives. In the meantime, the Tiguan will undergo a refresh in early 2011 to keep it up to date – expect less chrome, uprated specification and some new engines to keep sales buoyant.