• 7
Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen has had great success with its diesel-powered Race Touareg 2, earning wins in both the 2009 and 2010 Dakar Rally. For the 2011 event, however, a brand new race truck will be entered, mimicking the changes made to the road-going Volkswagen Touareg for the 2011 model year.

Cosmetically, the Race Touareg 3 gets new LED running lamps up front, as well as a new grille, rear clamshell, window line and a different set of 16-inch wheels wrapped in 235/85 BF Goodrich tires. It still looks mean as ever, and new improvements to the roof-mounted cooling systems won't affect airflow at higher speeds out on the dunes.

Power will still come from a twin-turbocharged 2.5-liter TDI engine, producing 296 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen says that the diesel powerplant has been tweaked to give slightly better fuel economy without sacrificing power, and the Race Touareg 3 will be capable of reaching 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in just 6.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 117 mph.

Will the Race Touareg 3 be able to secure another win for Volkswagen in the 2011 Dakar Rally? We'll have to wait until next year to find out. Hit the jump to read Volkswagen's official press release and scroll through the gallery below for high-res shots of the new race truck.

[Source: Volkswagen]
Show full PR text

Volkswagen has unveiled its new Dakar challenger, the Race Touareg 3.

Replacing the Race Touareg 2, twice winner in 2009 and 2010 of the gruelling Dakar Rally and the first diesel-powered vehicle ever to win the event, the new Race Touareg 3 promises to be faster and more efficient while retaining the immense strength and durability of the outgoing car.

Wind tunnel testing has led to changes being made to the carbon fibre and Kevlar bodywork with particular attention to improving the cooling systems around the roof of the vehicle while minimising disruption to the airflow at high speeds. At the same time the changes have meant the Touareg has adopted a fresh look with new LED lights, a new grille, window line, rear clamshell and wheels.

Beneath the bodywork the twin-turbocharged 2.5-litre TDI engine has been optimised to allow greater economy while still producing 300 PS and 442 lbs ft of torque. It has also been revised to cope with the severe altitude changes incurred on the Dakar with the vehicle climbing to heights of over 15,000 feet above sea level. The Race Touareg 3 can now adapt to these conditions, meaning the performance doesn't suffer despite the thinner air encountered at such altitudes.

The 2.5-litre engine channels its drive through three limited slip differentials via a newly upgraded five-speed sequential gearbox and a ZF-Sachs three-plate ceramic clutch.

The result is the ability to accelerate to 62 mph in 6.1 seconds before reaching a top speed of 117 mph in nearly any conditions.

In order to maintain these speeds in extreme off-road conditions the Race Touareg 3 needs to be able to withstand the rigours passing over sand dunes, through deep mud, and across gravel and broken tarmac roads. As a result the Race Touareg 3 is based on a high-strength steel spaceframe chassis with a pair of springs and damper units fitted to every corner in order to protect the vehicle against severe impacts. A set of specially developed BF Goodrich 235/85 R16 tyres provide the grip while a pair of wheels and tyres are carried by the vehicle at all times.

The new Race Touareg 3 has already undergone shakedown tests comprising 10,000 kilometres of simulated special stages ahead of the 2011 Dakar Rally. This equates to twice the length of the Rally itself and a greater distance than Formula 1 cars cover in an entire season.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      These are a pretty good car. We just replaced a turbo on one with a V10 diesel, what a tight fit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NASCAR on sand?
        • 4 Years Ago
        You must be joking. The primitive NASCAR yestertech crap shouldn't even be mentioned in conjunction with a technical tour de force like the race Touareg.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a shame that the other manufacturers have pulled out; Mitsubishi used to dominate in the cars category, with drivers like Petterhansel and Matsuoka.

      And it was a Race Touareg 2 that Hammond drove last season on TG.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Given that VW has practically BOUGHT the Dakar event and all other manufacturers have dropped out (Mitsu, BMW, Nissan, etc.) with no true factory efforts represented OTHER than VW, if they don't win it would be far more shocking than if they did win their third in a row..
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah really... The amount of money that VW has poured into Dakar, they better win it or it will be a huge humiliation given that no factory backed teams are really left there.
        On another note, Mitsubishi has won almost half of the Dakar events (won 7 in a row when there actually was a lot of factory backed competitors) yet it really didn't translate into marketing gimmick for them (especially here in USA as most people don't know what a Dakar rally even is). And now with the "Dakar" rally being hosted in South America, it really is not what it used to be. I used to be a big fan of it but now they should just change the name of the event because it has nothing to do with Dakar and not enough competition.
        Impressive car though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That dash has more screens and buttons than some small aircraft.

      I'm guessing this is the same one (or same variant) that Richard Hammond drove recently in Top Gear?