The Touareg TDI is not your father’s Oldsmobile. I know, because I unfortunately drove my father’s 85HP, 1983 Cutlass Cierra diesel when I was a kid. Since my dad was a glutton for punishment, this was not his first unreliable GM diesel; we also had a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser with the infamous diesel V8. After about 30,000 miles, both our diesels smoked like a 60 year old hooker. Since potential clean diesel shoppers seem to fall into the 30-60 year old demographic, this is still the image that diesel brings to mind for many, not the reliable but low-volume European diesels from the 70s and 80s. If sales numbers are any indication however, BMW Mercedes and VW have been changing the tide of public opinion.
As a longtime champion of clean-diesel technology in the American market, Volkswagen’s decision to launch its all-new Touareg with a hybrid version comes as something of a surprise. Not only does VW have a stable of proven, efficient oil-burners to choose from, but the firm has, until very recently, savored its role as a skeptic of EV and hybrid drivetrains. And with the GM/Chrysler/BMW/Mercedes Two-Mode hybrid system conclusively failing to build a market for large gas-electric Utes, it seemed that the era of mass-market hybrid SUVs was at an end anyway. So, does VW’s excursion from its comfort zone make more sense on (or off) the road than on paper?
Well, this feels kind of like kicking a dog, doesn’t it? It’s not exactly opening up a new journalistic frontier to say “OMG THE CAYENNE SUX”. Rarely has a vehicle been as reviled as Porsche’s platform-promiscuous porky-pig of an SUV seems to universally be. Still, as Pope once said,
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne’er tastes, and beauty ne’r enjoys…
And of all the vile variations on the Cayenne (at least two of which, it must be disclosed, your humble author operated as occasional-use vehicles) this “V6″ is the worst, the lowest, the most base, the most loathsome.