The Touareg people are the nomads of the Sahara — so perhaps it’s fitting that Volkswagen’s chosen to unveil two special-edition variants of its Touareg SUV this morning at the 2011 Qatar Motor Show.
Of the two, perhaps the most adept at actually tackling the desert sands is the new Race Touareg 3 Qatar. As the name suggests, this is an evolution of Volkswagen’s diesel-powered race buggy (the same vehicle recently dominated the Dakar Rally), but is actually designed to be street legal — at least in Qatar. Lights have been revised as to comply with legal standards, while the interior is dressed up ever so mildly with leather door panel inserts, along with Recaro seats trimmed in Nappa leather.
Make no mistake: this is still a race-ready vehicle. If the retention of the roll cage (now painted Serpentino Grey metallic) and the race seating wasn’t enough of a tip-off, the powertrain itself should be. Like the actual race-spec Race Touareg 3s, the street-legal version makes use of a 2.5-liter, twin-turbocharged, 2.5-liter I-4, which churns out 305 horsepower. Partnered with both a five-speed sequential gearbox and an all-wheel-drive system, the Race Touareg 3 Qatar is still capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds and reaching a top-speed of 117 mph off-road.
Much as we like the notion of purchasing a street-legal rally weapon, we think more buyers will be interested in Volkswagen’s other introduction. While the Race Touareg 3 caters to performance junkies, the new Touareg Gold Edition targets those seeking the most opulent SUV possible. Although the special Magic Morning white paint contains hints of gold, the SUV’s name stems directly from its exterior trim. The Gold Edition’s 22-inch wheels, roof rails, window frames, mirror caps, and other trim pieces are actually plated in 24-karat gold.
Inside, Gold Edition Touaregs are fitted with white Nappa leather seats and a matching headliner fashioned from Alcantara, while the dashboard — also trimmed in leather — receives a natural brown hue. Walnut burr accents are used throughout the cabin, many of which receive gold inlays.
Currently, both the Gold Edition and the homologated Race Touareg are billed as concepts, but there’s a fair chance each could see limited production. We overheard VW officials saying their “price is fixed, but volume is not.” Expect each to be built in small numbers, with most — if not all — headed to Middle Eastern markets.
Stay with Automobile Magazine for more news stemming from the Qatar Motor Show.