The term "Touareg" goes beyond the automotive industry, mostly because Volkswagen has searched for a name with a deeper meaning than the one we would be tempted to believe. Basically, the German carmaker tried to associate the name Touareg with something that happened in the past and thus give the mid-size crossover SUV it is building ever since 2002 the special aura every car needs when launched on such a crowded market.
We won't go too far in history, but Touareg, pronounced "twah-regg", is actually the name of a Berber nomadic pastoralist group living in North Africa who are actually descended from Saharan people. Although the car's history doesn't match the one of its name, the Touareg designation wasn't new for the automotive market at the time of the Volkswagens model's debut.
The first time the automotive industry heard about the Touareg was in 1996 when the French engineers over at Peugeot launched a concept vehicle wearing this name. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that auto enthusiasts got used to the name too quickly because most Europeans, especially those living in Germany, had trouble when trying to pronounce the name. As a result, Volkswagen started a promotional campaign to help people pronounce the model's name correctly, a move that obviously supported the adoption of the car on all markets.
Touareg's history started in 2002 when Volkswagen Group, together with Audi and Porsche, established the foundation of what was to become their first luxurious SUV created as a joint effort to bring costs to a minimum. The three brought what they had the best at that time, forming a developing team with more than 300 members, led by Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert. Volkswagen thus released the Touareg, while Porsche and Audi introduced the Cayenne and the Q7 respectively, both sharing the same platform but remaining technically and design-wise different from the Touareg.
The first-generation Touareg shocked, in a positive way, from its first appearance in front of the public. An imposing body with superior performance, top-notch features and high-quality interior. This is how the Touareg managed to capture everyone's attention from the first days of availability.
The first generation underwent a facelift in 2006 and was revealed at the Paris Motor Show in the same year. The United States received the upgrade one year later, reaching the market as a 2008 model.
The second iteration saw daylight at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show after initially being introduced in early February 2010 in Munich to a limited number of people. The car obviously came with numerous enhancements, many of which were implemented to make it more efficient and raise performance.
That being said, we had the chance to test the 2010 version of the company's third SUV (after Type 181 "Kurierwagen" and Type 183, also known as Iltis) equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 TDI BlueMotion engine developing 240 horsepower. Read on to find out whether the Touareg is really that gorgeous as most people who tested it claim.