Why Is Volkswagen Launching The New Touareg Over Here?

Of all the cars in the Volkswagen portfolio, why choose to launch its flagship SUV over here?

With its dealership count and model lineup continuing to shrink every passing year, it would perhaps be fair to say that Volkswagen in Malaysia is currently not as healthy as it once was back in its hey day a decade ago. And while the new hot Golfs and sleek Arteon do certainly have their own dedicated fanbase over here, the ever-dwindling sales figures of this German giant locally doesn’t paint a rosy picture of its future. 

Happily however, there has since been word from Volkswagen Malaysia regarding a new model to be joining its local lineup very soon. Though it would be the tale worthy of business textbooks if this latest addition will manage to turnaround the German automaker’s fortunes over here, as the car it has planned to launch is none other than its Touareg flagship SUV. 

Yes, you read that right. For a company that has marketed itself locally as the middle-class Continental alternative to the likes of Peugeot and Mazda, it has since decided that, in the face of ever-slowing sales, the best car to launch at this time is a top-tier fully-premium full-sized SUV. And no, there has been no word on exactly what Volkswagen is smoking either…

A car which incidentally, in other markets at least, goes head-to-head against the likes of BMW’s X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, Volkswagen must certainly be confident that it can cook up a ruse sweet enough to convince Malaysians to opt for what is essentially the supermarket no-name brand of large European SUV, instead of the aforementioned more premium and prestigious marques. And it must certainly be a doozy, as both the locally-assembled Bimmer and the Benz could potentially the price advantage too over the VW, if the Touareg were to arrive in its currently-presumed fully-imported form. 

In fact, in a rather ironic familial twist to its local arrival, likely one of its biggest rivals to the presumably fully-imported Volkswagen SUV will be its locally-assembled Porsche Cayenne platform-mate, which has in the last few years ruled the roost in the segment this Touareg is to be competing in. Who would after all pick a people’s car (albeit a very posh one) over a Porsche for about the same money?

Though let’s say for the sake of argument here that the Touareg does arrive in a CKD form — which Volkswagen indeed has the capability to do with its plant in Kulim, where they locally-assemble every model in its current lineup — the same question of why launch this full-sized SUV here still actually remains. Such is because while this Touareg may probably now have a price advantage over the X5, GLE and Cayenne, most buyers in that segment will likely still be more than happy premium for both the more prestigious badge, but perhaps more importantly too dealers that will likely still be around in the next few years. 

What more is that Volkswagen could not even bank on the Touareg for being more practical than its other 5-seat Continental counterparts. That is as unlike the Audi Q7 that shares the same platform with it, as well as the Volvo XC90, the Volkswagen is also to only be capable of seating just 5 only.

Upon mention of the XC90 however, the success of this large Volvo over here does bode well for the chances of the Touareg to potentially be somewhat sale-able locally. It is perhaps also worth highlighting here that there might still be that little bit of cache left for the Touareg name over here too, with this flagship SUV having been officially introduced in its premiere and second iteration locally. 

And just to put that tinfoil hat on for a bit here, it is interesting to note that following both arrivals of this flagship SUV in Volkswagen’s Malaysian portfolio was a period of growth for the brand locally. It might therefore not be too absurd to think that perhaps the German marque is desperate enough to be trying with the launch of this new Touareg to replicate the conditions that brought about its prior hey days, in order to reverse its currently lacklustre fortunes. 

In any case, for the likely very few in Malaysia who are actually interested in the Touareg, below is a concise summary of the information released by Volkswagen regarding the specification of this large SUV destined over here: 

The Touareg that will be landing in Malaysia will be the updated third-iteration of this large Volkswagen SUV. The Touareg will initially debut locally in a sole sporty R-Line trim and comes packed a 3.0 litre TSI V6, which has been quoted to output 340 PS and 450 Nm of torque. 

Paired to the aforementioned V6 is an eight-speed automatic transmission, with drive sent to all four wheels via a 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system. Volkswagen Malaysia has also teased for this spec of Touareg to net automatic self-levelling air suspension and a 730 W Dynaudio Consequence Sound System, in addition to IQ Light HD Matrix headlights and its IQ.Drive advanced driver suite, which is apparently inclusive of a night vision feature. 

Volkswagen has yet to announced the price of this flagship SUV yet, nor actually even a date for its eventual local arrival. The German automaker has however urged those who are interested to fill in their registration of interest over in their site linked here. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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