Volkswagen Touareg evo Car Reviews Car Reviews evo

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Volkswagen Touareg Electric Cars

Even more power for VW’s already monstrously powerful off-roader

April 2004

It was the headline 855Nm figure that did it. Yes, we think in more understandable lb ft when we talk of torque this side of the English Channel, but the enormity of the number does make the imagination all the keener. Another 145Nm and we’d be at that magic 1000, the province of mad V12 Mercs breathed upon by power-crazed German tuners.

OK, 855Nm is 631lb ft. It is a key statistic of this Volkswagen Touareg’s 4.9-litre V10 turbodiesel, electronically enhanced not by a mad German tuner but by Superchips of Buckingham. Another statistic worthy of note is maximum power of 356bhp. These numbers compare with Volkswagen’s claims of 313bhp and 553lb ft for the standard article, although these claims are to be met with caution: Superchips’ guinea-pig Touareg delivered 330bhp on the rolling road pre-modification, even if the torque was closer to the spec-sheet at 551lb ft.

Details, details.

But the peak output levels are not where the greatest gains lie. If instead we look at the power and torque curves before and after, we find that the greatest power increase is 47bhp at 2851rpm, which is also the point at which torque shows its greatest boost (an extra 86lb ft). The torque peak has also moved up the rev range, taking it nearer 3000rpm than 2000, but both power and torque curves stay as standard up to 2000rpm.

It should be quick, then. I remember driving an Audi TT V6 on the launch near Nice and coming up behind a Monaco-registered Touareg V10 on an uphill stretch of autoroute. The Touareg’s driver put his foot down and smoked off into the distance, and even our lusty TT couldn’t match that accelerative thrust. From a standstill to 60mph takes the standard V10 7.6sec, but the mid-range lungeability is the important part and the Superchips car has yet more.

Will its driveshafts hold together?

I’m heading towards Silverstone on a ‘bits-of-everything’ route I know well. I have just left an Audi TT for …, thus re-booting the correct Touareg world-domination programme. Now seems the ideal time to see what happens in a full-bore standing start with the ESP off.

This, remember, is a 2524kg behemoth with full-time four-wheel drive.

Brake and accelerator flat to the floor, release brake, note the passing of seconds as the speedo needle arcs. It’s not very accurate, I know, but it will give an idea. Under seven seconds appears to be the answer, in a giant lunge of front-wheel scrabble and tugs of torque-steer.

One of the results of the Superchips computer-hack is the raising of lower-gear torque limits, and it seems to have worked. Boost control maps are redrawn, too.

Yet, provided you are not a tyre tread or a driveshaft, it’s all quite undramatic. You are just thrust along as in a lightly-laden airliner at take-off. The drama comes more from the way the engine expends its energy in the newly-enhanced 2500-4000rpm zone (the red line is at 4200rpm).

You have to switch the six-speed Tiptronic auto to Sport mode to get the best of the new firepower, though. In its waft-along setting it changes up too readily to liberate the new seams of energy, a bit like a Honda engine never getting to the VTEC timing shift. But there’s still little point in using the manual Tiptronic over-ride when there’s all that torque to do the work for you.

The conversion works, then, giving rates of velocity change that make the notion of diesel power even harder to reconcile with what we are feeling and hearing. About the only diesel clue we have, apart from the low-revving, high-torquing nature, is the rapid ticking of idle combustion: not a diesel cackle, aurally it’s more like the opening and closing of injectors. And the best bit is the price: ΂£511.13 including fitting and VAT.

Extra output per pound comes no cheaper than this.

Is there a downside? Fuel thirst is going to be worse and both exhaust cleanliness and catalyst life suffer slightly. The greater speed and intensity of everything uncovers a clumsiness in the hefty Touareg’s handling which is not normally evident, too; this car demands a lot of road space.

And then there’s the matter of telling your insurance company, but Superchips has done a favourable deal with specialist broker Firebond to soften the blow.

Incidentally, a swift tour around Superchips’ workshop/laboratory revealed that the days of swapping ECU chips are largely gone. Instead, it’s more a question of feeding in new data via the engine diagnostic port. Which means Superchips has to find what’s in there in the first place. ‘It can take 12 months to understand a car’s computer,’ says Superchips MD Ian Sandford. ‘The dyno testing and modifications are the easy bit at the end.’


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