To the Sands: Volkswagen Unwraps New Race Touareg 3 for Dakar Rally

Winning the Dakar Rally is an accomplishment in and of itself, but two victories back to back is nothing short of amazing. Still, such success hasn’t phased Volkswagen — in fact, in an attempt to snag a third consecutive title, the automaker crafted its latest and greatest rally truck: the Race Touareg 3.

Press materials dub the new off-road racer as a mixture of revolution and evolution, but we’d argue the RT3 is primarily built from evolution. For the most part, the dune-blitzing Touareg resembles last year’s Race Touareg 2, although the front and rear clips have been tweaked to incorporate LED lighting and resemble the all-new 2011 Touareg SUV.

Underneath that skin, the Race Touareg 3 resembles the Race Touareg 2, and continues to utilize a custom tube frame chassis and independent suspension with long-travel dampers. Power continues to come from a 2.5-liter TDI turbo-diesel I-4, although it’s been gifted with an improved cooling system and a larger intercooler. As a result, VW says it’s rated at 310 horsepower, roughly 10 ponies over last year’s truck. That extra power, channeled through a five-speed sequential gearbox, allows the Race Touareg 3 to blitz from 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds, and hit a top speed of 117 mph on virtually any surface.

The next Dakar rally won’t commence until January 2011, but Volkswagen’s already planning a massive assault upon the Argentinean rally. VW expects to enter four Race Tourareg 3s in the event, piloted by some stellar names. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz managed to win the 2010 Dakar event, while Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz won the race in 2009.

Source: Volkswagen