Although the world is full of SUVs to fill practically every niche segment there is, we don’t seem to be able to get enough of them. Big, luxury SUVs aren’t as popular as they used to be and the small crossovers don’t attract that big of a crowd. In other words, the mid-size SUV segment is currently one of the hottest segments in the automotive industry. Manufacturers are fighting to get their share of the market and are doing so in grand fashion. In the last couple of years alone we’ve seen plenty of premium manufacturers offer SUVs (Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce), but none of them are a match for the already established competitors. Competitors like VW.
The Tiguan and the Touareg are great sellers, but there’s a large gap between them. So, in order to fill that gap, VW decided to introduce the Teramont, otherwise known as the Atlas in Europe and America. It’s closer to the Touareg than it is to the Tiguan, but we’d argue that makes the proposition that much more appealing. Trouble is, the market is already established, and braking through might be a bit of a challenge. Can the Teramont steal market share from stiff competition? To find out, we drove one in Oman, at the Jabal Alakhdar, known as Green Mountain.
Visually, the Teramont isn’t that exciting when you first look at it. Yes it’s new and fresh-looking, but it isn’t as striking as other SUVs in the VW Groupation lineup (think Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga). Then again, it’s 4 to 5 times cheaper than either of them, so we really have to take that into consideration. We will say this however: the Teramont has a design which grows on you over time. By the time we were done with the test drive I turned around to look at the thing every time I got out.
The front is reminiscent of the Amarok, but that’s not a bad thing. These two share the same DNA and that is immediately apparent. The headlights and the grille are carried over from the CrossBlue concept, and I commend VW for that. The new Touareg will wear a similar fascia no doubt, though I do wish VW would separate their models a little more visually. The Teramont is one of those vehicles which look bigger on pictures than it does in real life. Because of its proportions it appears larger than the previous Touareg, though in practice they’re not that far off from each other.
Feel free to take that as a compliment. The Teramont is still massively practical and spacious, but it’s nowhere near as cumbersome to drive and park as its dimensions might suggest at first glance. Overall, it won’t take your breath away, but it’s a great contemporary design with sprinkles of new-age tech.
Here’s where the Teramont really shines. All VWs, without exception, are superbly built. The price doesn’t reflect their fit and finish at all. The craftsmanship is as good as that on the Bentley Bentayga, and I do mean that. Okay so the materials aren’t as high-end and you don’t get the same level of luxury, but in terms of quality, it’s all there. This thing was built to last and you can feel it from the moment you get in.
The dashboard design is a little bland to my taste, but there’s so much going on you forget about that almost immediately. The sporty wheel with a flat bottom was great, but we especially loved VW’s digital cockpit. Although similar to the Audi Virtual cockpit, it has some distinctive differences and I liked the way it worked. It’s simple, clear to read and understand.
If possible, opt for VW’s Car-Net system as that gives you phone connectivity via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or MirrorLink. The Fender Premium audio system is genuinely one of the best in the class, and after listening to it for the duration of our test drive, we wouldn’t hesitate to tick the little box next to it when ordering one.
Elsewhere, it’s the usual quality stuff from VW we’ve come to know and love. Comfy seats and plenty of space in all three rows. The Teramont has room for seven adults and their entire luggage, provided every passenger carries a single suitcase. Spaciousness and practicality are among the best in class.
Engine and Performance
As you can probably guess, the Teramont gets VW’s top-performer four-cylinder TSI engine as a base unit. The 2.0-liter develops 220 horsepower and some 350 Nm of torque. The one we drove had the optional 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 361 Nm of torque. You can’t go wrong with either of them, but the V6 hustles the big Teramont’s chassis more effortlessly. And it sounds better.
Both engines come with the brilliant 8-speed automatic transmission and are offered with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Although it’s not a hardcore off-roader by any stretch of the imagination, the Teramont is more than capable of holding its own on most trails. It won’t beat a Land Cruiser or a Range Rover, but it definitely surpasses the capabilities of most small to mid-size crossovers on the market.
This is a road car first and foremost, and it feels it. It’s aimed at people with families, and the ride quality reflects that. The Teramont soaks up the bumps with ease and controls its body roll really well. We were surprised how dynamically capable it turned out to be. It’s hard to phase it under normal driving conditions. For the most part, you’re not even aware you’re putting on the kilometers. It just eats up the road in front of you. After a full day’s worth of driving we got out without feeling the tiniest bit tired or cramped.
It’s another hit from VW, what else is there to say? This may sound a bit weird, but VW might have built the single greatest competitor to the Touareg in the form of the Teramont. It’s so capable and brilliant that you do wonder if you need to spend more on a Touareg.