“The TDI version delivers amazing power; it uses up to 25 percent less fuel and has amazing resale value…”
Southern Spain isn’t a place one gets to quickly, especially from the west coast of Canada.
Trekking across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving late in Frankfurt with only forty minutes to connect to our flight to Malaga, resulted in a dash though the airport. Slumping into my seat, sweaty and tired I awoke a half hour before landing looking out the window at the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the location of our off-road experience the following day.
See: Volkswagen’s 2015 Touareg (starting at $49,000 CAD)
Volkswagen has what they call “Driving Experiences” in far-flung places like Spain, Morocco, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, getting to drive the Touareg SUV through spectacular scenery and experience the true capability of this vehicle. The two-day adventure our group was on was a condensed version of the four-day experience the public can book. The cost is 2,300 Euros ($3,115), which includes the vehicle, fuel, food and transfers for the full four days but not airfare. When you break it down by the day, its rather good value and would be a wonderful side excursion for anyone already on holiday in one of these locations.
Our TDI clean diesel Touareg featured a leather interior and navigation, almost identical to our Canadian spec versions with one difference. This vehicle had an adjustable air suspension to raise or lower the vehicle depending on the road surface. Since we don’t get this feature in Canada, all the off road driving was done as close to the ride-height of the passive springs and shocks used in the Canadians spec trucks.
For the first leg, we drove on the highway to the city of Granada, an hour away.
The group was excited to visit the World Heritage Site of Alhambra (The Red Castle). This stunning site dates back to roughly 800 BC but the structure seen today has roots in the 14th century. It has ben used as a fortress and palace and a several different religions have called this home. The architecture is stunning from the inside but even more fascination from across the valley floor as we had dinner and watched the castle glow under the clear moonlit sky.
The next day was the business day, with 290 km of off-road driving, making our way through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, back to Malaga. The eight identically equipped Touareg SUVs were quite a sight travelling through the small villages and towns carved into the mountainside. The forested section was similar to driving in British Columbia, even the pine trees looked similar to the ones found around Lillooet and the dusty roads covered the once clean SUVs in a matter of minutes.
The driving was slow. Not because of the Touareg but because there were three TV crews on this adventure, including myself from Driving Television. Having to stop and take video held the whole group up but it made for some stunning shots.
(More after the jump…)
The Touareg TDI is the perfect choice for this challenge or any average commute. The 3.0L turbocharged engine has 240hp but a whopping 406 lb.-ft. of torque. And torque is what you need for crawling over rocks and splashing through rivers but it also makes driving this large 5-passenger SUV a breeze even in city situations. On the short highway stages we experienced, the TDI cruised effortlessly at over 120 km/h.
After a lunch break of traditional paella, the group headed out again into the canyons and rugged landscape, very similar to Utah, with carved cliffs. The most memorable part was the smell of wild Rosemary bushes or the wild Jasmine filling the air. Not just a hint, rather a wonderful aroma that occupied the entire valley floor.
As we pulled into Malaga after twelve hours behind the wheel of the 2015 Touareg, I have come to appreciate it all over again. This is a premium VW offering, starting at $53,965. The TDI is the one to get. Not that the regular gasoline is a bad choice, rather the TDI diesel is a better choice. The TDI version delivers amazing power; it uses up to 25 percent less fuel and has amazing resale value. The 2015 model gets a slight facelift, so slight I’d have a hard time pointing out the changes, but this SUV is about what it can do, not how flashy it is.
If you would like to find out more about taking part in your own VW adventure, go to the Volkswagen Driving Experience’s website to find out more.
Next time, Morocco sounds like fun…