The fastest version of the first-generation Volkswagen Touareg has come up for sale in Canada, and it will make you drool. This 2007 Volkswagen Touareg W12 Executive is an off-road beast that has 444 HP from A W12 and can go 155 MPH. Dear readers, this is not a drill! I hope your heart is beating as fast as mine is right now.
If you asked me what’s one of the most underrated cars ever made in the modern day, I’d say it’s the Volkswagen Touareg. When you look at one, you might be inclined to think it’s not that serious of an SUV. I wouldn’t blame you, because it looks round and soft like a crossover. It doesn’t look like something that you’d ride in to conquer Moab. And that’s part of what makes it great.
As I’ve written about before, the Volkswagen Touareg was born from the same development that created the Porsche Cayenne. Facing an unsteady future in the 1990s, Porsche decided to fund itself with a cash cow. An SUV was chosen to be Porsche’s financial vehicle, and initially, it was supposed to be the high-performance version of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Thankfully, that didn’t come to fruition, because Porsche ended back with old friend Volkswagen, led by madman exec Ferdinand Piëch. And two absolutely incredible SUVs came out of the other end.
To call the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg super SUVs would be an understatement. These are mid-sizers with an incredible amount of off-road kit. I’m talking limited-slip differentials, permanent four-wheel-drive, short overhangs, loads of ground clearance, adjustable suspensions, low-range gearboxes, optional differential locks, and a 7,700-pound tow rating. And on the technology side, you get hill descent control, off-road traction control, off-road ABS, parking sensors, and even a hill start system for manual transmissions.
This is technology that you’ll find on stuff like a Wilderness spec Subaru today, but a full 20 years ago. And perhaps the best part is that it’s all seamless. The technology works together with the hardware without you telling it to, making you look like an off-roading legend.
Of the two, the Porsche Cayenne was meant to be more sporty. At its most powerful, you could get a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S featuring a 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 making 550 HP. That’s good for a 60 mph sprint in just 4.4 seconds. But what if you like your super SUV a little more subtle? Well, the Volkswagen Touareg had versions that weren’t slouches either.
The best version of the Volkswagen Touareg offered in the United States is the V10 TDI. Featuring a 310-HP 5.0-liter twin-turbo V10 diesel, the SUV–which sounds like a Lamborghini eating a bucket of bolts–pulls to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Yes, that’s much slower than the Porsche, but that diesel actually makes the same torque as the Porsche at 553 lb-ft. It hauls like a train, even up a mountain. It’ll do 140 mph, too, which actually makes it faster than the Ram TRX’s electronically-limited 118 mph top speed.
But you can do even better.
Starting in fall 2004, Volkswagen offered an even faster version of the Touareg. The company reached into its parts bin and pulled out the 6.0-liter W12, an engine that had found other homes in the Audi A8, the Bentley Continental GT, and the Volkswagen Phaeton. Here, it’s making 444 HP and 443 lb-ft torque. Again, it’s not quite as fast as the Porsche, but since it can dispatch the 60 mph sprint in under 6 seconds, it’s plenty quick for an SUV.
Oh, and here’s what a Volkswagen W12 sounds like straight-piped:
The Touareg W12 was originally intended to be a limited edition model limited to just 500 units. However, Volkswagen eventually just offered it as a regular model. It’s unknown how many of these were produced in total. What is known is that they set European buyers back about 100,000 Euros before adding them down with options.
This particular Touareg W12 Executive was first sold in Japan. A sticker on the tailgate suggests that at one point it was sold by Yanase & Co., Ltd. in Japan. It appears to be pretty loaded with front and rear heated seats, sunroof, and a rather fantastic interior.
These were never sold in any part of North America, so this is a rare beast to see. It also has an aftermarket exhaust, so it’s ready for you to let it sing. There’s just 41,010 miles on its odometer, so hopefully it’s not a reliability nightmare.
Sadly, there’s a catch, and it’s that it’s across the border in Canada. Recently, I’ve been reaching out to importers to figure out if I could get a Smart Roadster here. Some have told me that it’s not worth trying to circumvent the infamous 25-year-rule, and others had confidence that they could import just about any car legally, so long as you have enough patience and time. One thing’s for sure, the consensus from importers seems to be that you better have some big money to import something like this.
That said, if you’re lucky enough to already be in Canada, or know the right person, you could buy this for $37,800 from Winding Road Motorcars. That translates to $28,389 USD. That’s not bad at all for an off-road beast that can tow your track car and also be your track car.
That thing is ugly as hell. There’s probably 20 vehicles I’d take over that.
I love that you can push the two crossbars together when not in use to make a wing.
My chin is free of drool.
These vehicles are pure nightmare fuel. I distinctly recall when seeing a review of one of these brand new and it sprayed transmission fluid mist all over the windshield. Nothing like putting a over the top, overly complicated engine in an already notoriously unreliable brand of vehicle. No thanks. Even for free.
A relative of mine had a first gen Toureg V6 and THAT was a reliability nightmare. I am sure the graph of number of cylinders to number of problems is exponential rather than linear for Touregs.
I must say once again, the PL71 platform is the best SUV platform ever built.
A V10 won the showroom stock class at pike:s peak!
I would be very curious to have a look at a w12. I have no idea how they fit it in the engine bay because my V8 is absolutely crammed in there.
Even though it is also terribly unreliable, I would have to really struggle to not want the v10 TDI version instead.
OMG I want it. Still miss my ’04 V8, it was fantastic. (but I don’t miss replacing the driveshaft)
Stop what you’re doin’
Cuz you’ve totally ruined
The lame Touregs that I’m used to ????
I’m really digging the sleeper angle here. Would love to here some creative solutions on how to get this titled stateside.
This is one of the two Touaregs that would make me give up my 2008 V8. The other is the very rare 2008 V10 TDI. Someday…..
I cold seriously dig buying this. My solution – buy the cheapest property I can find across the border, license and insure it at that address and then just drive home with those delicious maple flavored plates.
(Please don’t bother explaining why it won’t work or it’s stupid. I know it’s dumb. I just pulled it out of my ass for fun.)
Why buy a property in Canada? You can rent out my shed! It comes with amenities like a light bulb and a furry friend that lives underneath! Best of all, it is in Canada.
If you’ll agree to forward my snail mail, we might have a deal. 🙂
Oooh in Toronto that would be a million dollar shed, such amenities a light bulb
If i have to drive a modern VW that’s the one i’d take
Still rather have the Cayenne Turbo.
I really like the understated elegance of this VW. It looks just like a million other soccer mom mobiles at first glance. Until you notice the quad exhaust, the big air intakes in front, and those huuugely wide rear tires. I love it
Heard on any SUV forum: “How do I get more power?” Answer: well you get this kit, that turbo, this exhaust, a tune…”
Touareg forum: “How do I get more power?” Answer: Get the V8. Need more? Get the V10. Still not enough? There’s the W12 (if you can find one). Still not floating your boat? There’s the Porsche variants, the V12 Audi or the Urus. Not many people ask anyway, even the ‘base’ V6TDi will pull stumps.
Of course that’s probably because nobody wants to work on them…
Remember, those numbers are Canadian, so you have it take into account the exchange rate.
If my math is correct, down south of the 49th parallel, that W12 would be a W9.2.
This seems like a purchase that would start off fantastic and then go south very quickly.
I’ve made many of these types of purchases.
“…and then go south very quickly.”
So you import a lot of Canadian vehicles down to the U.S.?
The glorious Pep Boys rotating ball compass stuck to the steering column just makes the car…..
Very nice. BTW, what became of the Golf W12 one-off VW built for an event in Germany?
Given that it was a one-off, no one figured out the service position. In other words, it’s in 14,000 pieces in the very back of someone’s warehouse.