Aviator Benjamin Kim demands a good deal from his cars, much like the aircraft he flies
When asked about what he looks for in a car, aviator Benjamin Kim doesn’t hesitate when answering. Appropriate, since as an aviator by training and trade, he’s no stranger to impeccably built, high-performance machinery that simply can’t afford to miss a beat.
The way a car looks, unsurprisingly, is on top of his list, though also right up there is a car’s performance and its handling characteristics.
The car’s man-machine interface, or how it interacts with its driver, is another quality he holds in high regard. “How does a car respond to the driver? Is it intuitive? Is it ergonomically designed for the driver? Something he doesn’t have to think too much about and just becomes part and parcel of the driving experience?”
With such a long list of exacting demands from someone who really knows his automobiles, the new Volkswagen Touareg, the latest and greatest SUV to come from the German carmaker, has its work cut out for it. The Touareg is built on completely new mechanical and electronic underpinnings, meaning the full-sized SUV handles better, is packed with even more high-tech features and is built with more luxury than ever before.
For the former, the new Touareg’s chassis is stiffer thanks to a mix of high-strength steel and aluminium, though crucially it is 106kg lighter than before. Its all-wheel-drive system is also all-new, and its capabilities both on- and off-road are as impressive as ever, but the new Touareg does have one more ace up its sleeve: all-wheel-steering.
In addition to decreasing the full-sized SUV’s turning circle to a Golf-sized 11.19m, it has the benefit of making the Touareg a lot more nimble than its exterior dimensions would suggest.
However, as Kim opines, while the all-wheel-steering system brings clear benefits, it’s virtually invisible. “The most amazing thing about it is how unintrusive and invisible it is. You’re just trying to make a turn and you realise the car will turn the corner in a much smaller space than you’d expect.”
Complementing that handling ability is its three-litre V6 engine with 340hp that will catapult the SUV from a standstill to 100km/hr in just under six seconds, a remarkably quick time, considering the vehicle’s stature.
Kim has praise for the Touareg’s motor and its abundance of low-end torque, making it more than up to the task of any on- or off-road scenario.
On the point of the Touareg’s electronics and build quality, Kim sums it up nicely and succinctly. “The innovation put into this car is really quite remarkable. Not only has Volkswagen put a lot of thought into the technology, but the interface too, and it really gave me a good feeling about the car,” he says.
“It can easily hold its own against other luxury marques,” he adds.
And that, perhaps is the best praise that the new Touareg can receive.