Volkswagen Race Touareg

Given that 250MB of sensor data, equivalent to roughly 16,500 A4 pages, is analysed by the engineers every day of the rally, it's easy to see why the markers are invaluable.

The Race Touareg might look imposing from the outside but, once you've swung yourself up and through the roll cage, the low roof and huge carbonfibre transmission tunnel make it feel surprisingly snug. The shallow windscreen, the unremitting blackness and the lack of a big, open, roll-caged boot behind you (as you have in a stage rally car) lend it a slightly tanklike feeling.

Start the five-cylinder, twin-turbo, 306bhp,

4421b ft diesel and the noise from the side-exit exhaust is angry. The barely silenced sound is meaty and guttural (think of a construction-site vehicle). Being a diesel it obviously doesn't rev as quickly as a petrol, but it shows Audi and Peugeot that a diesel can sound good.

Yank the T-bar geailever back, ease up the amazingly friendly ceramic clutch and revel in the complete lack of grip as all four wheels spin through the powder. Ice is easy to cope with because studded tyres have something to dig into, but snow offers practically zero grip even with studs. The steering is very direct and amazingly light (lighter still because of the snow, obviously) because the last thing you need if you're in a car for the hours and hours of a Dakar stage is pumped forearms from heavy steering. It inevitably takes a lap or two of the circuit to dial the brain into how the Touareg is going to react, how the torque's delivered, how the weight distribution affects the way it's moving and sliding. And, rather importantly, I also have to work out where the circuit goes as it wanders in a clockwise loop around what looks like an old quarry or possibly a Bond villains hideout.

During these early laps there is a lot of arm-flailing and steering-wheel rotation going on as

Above left: twin springs and dampers just visible. Above right: hqge fans in the rear help cool the radiator, dampers and fuel. Below: cockpit, like the rest of the car, bears little resemblance to the production Touareg. Bottom right: engine air intake positioned high and facing rearwards to pick up the cleanest air possible

'You get thrown around more than you might expect, but you the Touareg slides and I gather, then another slide, gather, gear, sliiiindc... brake, down a gear, gather, corner, slide, gear... Gradually, however, and almost without realising it, I find that my inputs become neater and the slides longer and more precise as I balance the car more easily. I've thankfully got better at left-foot braking in the past few years so that at least it doesn't feel alien, but even with big stabs of the brakes to try to get the nose mrned in, the Touareg isn't an instantly reactive rally car like an S2000 vehicle. That's perhaps not surprising given that it weighs a regulation-conforming 1787.5kg, but it means that I've got to give it bigger and more insistent inputs to get it to go where I want through the winter wonderland.

Above left: twin springs and dampers just visible. Above right: hqge fans in the rear help cool the radiator, dampers and fuel. Below: cockpit, like the rest of the car, bears little resemblance to the production Touareg. Bottom right: engine air intake positioned high and facing rearwards to pick up the cleanest air possible

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment