Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Volkswagen [VW] unveils street-legal Race Touareg

words - Gautam Sharma
It won the Dakar Rally barely three weeks ago. Now VW has unleashed a slightly more civilised, street-legal version of the Race Touareg 3
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The miserly XLi wasn't the only curveball Volkswagen bowled up at the recent Qatar motor show.

Fresh from his victory in the punishing Dakar Rally, Qatari ace Nasser Al Attiyah was on hand to assist with the unveiling of the Race Touareg 3 Qatar, billed as "the world's most talented street-legal SUV".

Rather than being a superficial copy of the real McCoy, the show car is largely the same as the highly bespoke vehicles that finished 1-2-3 in the South American enduro, and it can allegedly withstand the same punishment.

VW claims the 228kW all-terrainer can sprint to 100km/h in less than six seconds, but its real USP is obviously the pace it can maintain across dunes, rocks and just about any other terrain.

The road-legal version looks essentially the same as its competition counterpart (obviously minus the blue race paint), but the 2m wide body required a few tweaks, and the 16-inch rims worn by Al Attiyah's car have been turfed in favour of gold-painted 18-inch BBS rims.

The same hue of gold is used for the "Race Touareg" livery on the car's flanks, while the bodywork is coated in "Magic Morning" -- a pearl white paint with a slight gold shimmer.

Al Attiyah's vehicle doesn't have the most hospitable cabin, so the road version's interior is immaculately crafted and finished in carbonfibre, although the roll cage has been carried over unchanged.

The Recaro racing bucket seats, switchgear and sequential gearshift lever -- plus the anodised plate on the centre console commemorating the Touareg's Dakar success -- all shout the car's competitive heritage, but it all has the look and finish of a mass-production vehicle.

The interior was designed to embody a "Stealth look" inspired by fighter planes, even though it's laced in Nubuk leather and carbonfibre.

VW officials are still being cagey about when (if at all) the Race Touareg 3 Qatar will be available to order, and they're even less willing to volunteer potential pricing and build volumes. It'll no doubt be a hugely pricey, low-volume proposition if it does indeed get the green light.

A more real-world (but less tasteful) offering also revealed at the Qatar show was the Touareg Gold Edition, which -- befitting its moniker -- is liberally daubed with 24-carat gold.

The gold bits include custom designed 22-inch wheels, roof rails, protective guard strips and window frames, mirror caps, grille/air intake slats, "Touareg V8" signature and boot sill trim.

Inside, 24-carat gold also adorns many of the car's accents and switches… in case the exterior tweaks were too subtle. Just the thing for rappers and oil barons…


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