The Volkswagen Teramont joins its more sophisticated stable mate, the Volkswagen Touareg, to beef up the German brand’s Middle East offering.
It’s the largest vehicle on offer in Volkswagen showrooms. But is that the only differentiator that the new Volkswagen Teramont brings to the market? After all, it’s not as if the German brand hasn’t had its share of success with the Touareg over the product generations, with this year spawning a new model altogether.
Both the Touareg and the Tiguan have underpinned the sales volume fightback that Volkswagen has managed over the past few years. And the iterations of these two models as Audi, Porsche, SEAT and even Lamborghini units are doing quite well, thank you. That’s the beauty of a nice, solid platform sharing approach. It brings a touch of simplicity and order to the whole car manufacturing game. And what could be simpler than VW’s two basic kits – the MLB and MQB platforms. Basic difference – longitudinal or transverse layout of the engine.
Is it any surprise then that the first difference the Teramont brings to the table is the MQB layout. It’s incidentally the largest iteration of the layout, with the Teramont featuring either a four-cylinder unit (thankfully not for the Middle East) or the narrow angle VR6 3.6-litre unit.
Design: Different, yet same same
If that’s the differentiator, then the design tries to stay true to its origins. No, you can’t possibly mistake the Teramont for the Touareg. While the latter is all edgy lines, sharp defined profile and ultra modern light signature, the Teramont is softer in its styling, maybe harking to a hint of Ocean Cruise Liner in its design ideation. The line to watch here is the character line that rises over the front wheelbay, moves across to the rear and then does the same there. Pretty straightforward and reminiscent of a decade ago.
The grille is very recognisably VW, with a hint of the new tighter grilles on the Golf. Headlights are framed by double sleeping C cups of the LED DRLs and the hood rises from the fascia with the tiniest of power bulges.
The tail is also a lot more in tune with the modern VW look, with taillights that spell out new shapes with the LED elements, two strong chrome lines across the rear that tone down the mass of the tailgate and a rear skid plate that serves as a surround for the twin trapezoidal tail pipes.
Interiors: Premium on space and comfort
What’s the point of having a long wheelbase, if you can’t seat 7 people in style? The Teramont takes that role seriously, with all three rows getting better than their expected share of legroom and headroom.
And the headroom is really sufficient. The power seats allow you to push down to very close to floor level, affording a clear 15″ of headroom even above our heads (5′ 10″ height). So you get this without the outside design looking too tall. Full marks for the internal package engineers.
But it’s the first row, looking forward, that seems to be a bit of a let down when you compare it with the Touareg. Our advice – don’t compare unless you are willing to pay almost 80% more for the choice. It’s obvious that Volkswagen has done a load of ‘value engineering’ and the end result is not too bad. You still get the large centre display that you want, multi-way power driver and passenger seats that are even cooled (and leather to boot).
If it’s keeping up with Joneses that you want, then your panoramic sunroof should impress. But the plastics and wood trim are of a visibly different grade than the Touareg as is the treatment of the centre console. Here, storage is the key.
Engine: The source of good intentions
Volkswagen’s 3.6L VR6 unit produces 280 horsepower. That seems good by any reckoning. What’s even better is the way this unique architecture has evolved over the years, in some of the brand’s best sporting icons, before landing up here.
The main differentiator in the VR6 is its compactness. It treads the line between being an inline and a V6 unit, bringing out the best characteristics of both. It does require a very good controller in place and the end result is that you get fuel efficiency and power as needed.
The engine is mated with the new generation of the eight-speed ZF auto gearbox, complete with the VW group’s automatic gearshift lever with tap back to get into and out of Sport mode. What you also get is the new 4Motion controller that allows you to choose off-road mode among its various options.
Driving Impressions: Almost all good
We did mention off-road and yes the Volkswagen Teramont does handle off-road. But don’t go and throw it in the sand following your boss in the Touareg just yet. It’s American in the way it understands off-road, so you will notice that it handles everything but soft sand with complete elan. We’re sure that it’ll handle snow too.
But it’s on the road that the Teramont really appeals. It is quite planted (for an American tuned SUV) and those 18″ alloy wheels have rubber that still has quite a bit of sidewall on display. The ride is cushioned and any road undulation sets off a bit of almost imperceptible rocking on the chassis. Steering feel is sharper than the springs would have you know, and the overall experience of piloting this reasonably large SUV volume through Muscat roads is something else altogether. You get the whole gamut of driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking and park assist. So you can drive it even if you think it’s just a tad too large for your tastes.
As for its road manners at higher speeds around curves and the like, back off the pedal a bit, the Volkswagen Teramont is no Touareg. The Teramont is actually better behaved than a clutch of SUVs it compete against, so that’s not an issue. But at heart it’s still a front-wheel drive people carrier.
Verdict: We would buy it for its value
Yes, we’ve been doing the unspeakable all along by comparing the Teramont with the Touareg. That’s obviously not fair since the latter sits in the zone clear above RO 20,000 while the Volkswagen Teramont is yours for less than RO 14,000. Now hang on a minute, at that price the Teramont is actually cheaper than a couple of variants of the Tiguan and a whole host of Japanese and Korean brand 7-seater SUVs (most of which have really lousy third rows). So while the Volkswagen Teramont may not aspire to the fancy accessory bin of the Touareg, it’s a winner in its own right.