Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king

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VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king

Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king-race

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Mark Miller is one of four horsepower professionals with whom VW will manage the hat trick at the Dakar from January 1st and win the world’s most famous rally for the third time in a rowll.

Source: Volkswagen / Picture Agency Kraling

Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king-touareg

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VW invited to an exclusive test drive with the VW Race Toureg in Lower Saxony.

Source: Volkswagen / Picture Agency Kraling

Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king-snow-ready

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The muddy game in a gravel pit near the Oschersleben racetrack turns into a winter test due to the early onset of winter.

Source: Volkswagen / Picture Agency Kraling

Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king-snow-ready

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Each Race Touareg costs around 1.5 million euros and was assembled by hand within four weeks.

Source: Volkswagen / Picture Agency Kraling

Volkswagen test: VW Race Touareg, the snow-ready desert king-touareg

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Where other racing cars don’t have much more displays than the rev counter, Miller’s workplace is reminiscent of the cockpit of an Airbus pilot.

Source: Volkswagen / Picture Agency Kraling

Volkswagen wants to win the Dakar Rally for the third time in a row. Driver Mark Miller manages breathtaking maneuvers even in the German winter.

D.his weather irritates even Mark Miller. The American lives on a ranch in Colorado and therefore has no problem with snow. But when he is behind the wheel, he prefers it to be hot and sandy. Because Miller is one of four professional drivers with whom VW wants to create the hat trick at the Dakar from January 1st and win the world’s most famous rally for the third time in a row. For this purpose, the Lower Saxony built a completely new racing car, which is a Touareg in name, but actually has nothing in common with the production car. "Except for the logo in the radiator grille and the lever for the windshield wiper," says Miller with a grin.

Before the four racing cars – each around 1.5 million euros expensive and built by hand within four weeks – along with a few dozen support vehicles and a train of around 100 employees, are flown to Argentina for an exclusive test drive with the car . Instead of a muddy game in a gravel pit near the Oschersleben race track, however, the early cold snap turns it into a winter test, and racing driver Miller works up a sweat despite the freezing temperatures.

“We have hardly any traction on this surface,” complains the American. Although the 235 tires have decent lugs and the Race Touareg naturally has permanent all-wheel drive, the car has to dig around quite a bit before it gets going. “We can’t reach the sprint value of 5.9 seconds and the top speed of 190 km / h on this surface,” says Miller, “for that we need solid terrain."

But for rally novices what the PS professional calls the overdrive is already more than fast enough. Under the hood, a 2.5-liter diesel with 310 hp and the roar of an exhaust in the ears that steps outside directly under the passenger, the Touareg rushes off as if there were no more tomorrow. The Race Touareg wallows through snow and mud like a wild boar in a winter animal park. More than 600 Newton meters of torque, the developers do not want to reveal much more precisely, push the all-wheel drive, which weighs only around 1.8 tons, and turn every bump into a jump. While Miller uses the long gear knob on the wide center tunnel to force the gears into the sequential gearbox, Miller flies almost more than he drives on the circuit. And the longer the tour goes, the happier you are that the mechanics have lashed you into the screw-down bucket seat with harness straps and insisted on your helmet. Otherwise you would not only have a pale tip of your nose, but also a few square meters of bruises. And the head would be dented like a decrepit saucepan, the way it rolls around in the roll cage during this trembling game.

While the novice on the pillion is having a hard time keeping his head straight and looking at the horizon, Miller sits next door, has a friendly smile on his face, speaks encouragingly into the helmet microphone and controls his displays with concentration. Because where other racing cars don’t have much more instruments than the rev counter, Miller’s workplace is reminiscent of the cockpit of an Airbus pilot: he can individually control every pressure and every temperature, can let air out of the tires at the push of a button in front of the dunes and then inflate them again, has a cruise control for the city routes and two dozen switches on the center tunnel, about whose functions he would rather not talk about now. Unfortunately, it looks exactly the same in front of the passenger seat: on-board computer, factory distance counter, electronic road book – if you take a seat here in the race, you have a full-time job. It’s good that Miller can find his way on the test track by himself. Because this time at least his passenger has enough to do with himself.

After three or four laps through the wintry gravel pit, Miller made friends with the terrain, which is somewhat unusual for his Touareg. It is not for nothing that the PS professional at home in Colorado prefers to drive on the snowmobile. The longer he drives, the earlier he starts the drift, which he uses to force the car around the bends, he dives deeper into the potholes, lifts off the jumps more easily and lands much later. But the American has most fun on the level and therefore deeply snow-covered parking lot, where he does two dozen pirouettes at the end of the test drive. While the last color slowly disappears from the passenger’s face, his grin widens. When else can a desert king dance the snow waltz??

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