The Volkwsagen Teramont, the German automaker's first three-row crossover, literally towers above its SUV stablemates, the mid-size Touareg and compact Tiguan, but it's a large vehicle without the high price tag. Designed and built in the United States, where it's known as the Atlas, this seven-seater is going to be stiff competition for the likes of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Dodge Durango.
Setting eyes on the Teramont for the first time, the simply styled grill, with a long, sleek bonnet and square headlights emphasise this vehicle’s American roots, and although there are sophisticated elements you will recognise as VW, I have to keep reminding myself it’s part of the same family.
That said, it seems perfect for the GCC market and certainly won’t look out of place on our large highways or multistorey mall car parks.
The interior is, in a word, spacious – which isn’t a surprise considering VW launched this model at last year’s Dubai International Motor Show by setting up as a “hotel”.
The panoramic sunroof and clever sliding second row of seats don't compromise comfort or boot space. With a multitude of cup holders – a whopping 17, to be precise – and climate control with vents for all three rows, it can handle a full load of adults, without compromise.
Let’s be honest though, this car isn’t going to be marketed to hotel transport agencies, and the family focus is clear, via multiple Isofix seat brackets which allow for a trio of child seats side by side, and flat folding second and third rows.
As a former Golf R owner, I had to test the Teramont’s R-Line trim package, with sportier looks and fine detail akin to my Gucci clutch bag. It may not accelerate like a Golf – why should it? – but the gear changes are beautifully smooth, the brakes responsive and the steering light, quick and precise, which is ideal for those who feel less comfortable driving big vehicles. It’s an SUV that drives like a small car, yet with a comfortable, high seating position and great visibility. I couldn’t find any avoidable blind spots, and I could glance at the passengers in the rear, even as far as the third row, without taking my eyes off the road for more than a split second. Peace of mind for parents, for sure.
You can choose from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 220hp or the 3.6-litre V6 with 280hp. Both variants come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.
If I had to highlight a weakness, though, with a full load on mountainous roads, I feel the Teramont suffers from a horsepower deficit. I discovered this while traversing the highways of southern Oman, although that won't be too apparent in the UAE unless you venture far beyond city limits.
The car is loaded with the kind of tech features you have come to expect in contemporary cars, such as very impressive adaptive cruise control, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed on VW’s easy-to-use eight-inch touchscreen display and amplified via the Fender sound system with rear subwoofer.
There is a 360-degree overhead view camera and a hands-free power boot.
Other driver aids include blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert. Controls are intuitive, gauges easy to read and camera visuals crisp.
The Teramont will undoubtedly steal customers from its competitors in the relatively limited seven-seater SUV market.
It's both driver- and family-friendly, with oodles of space, top tech and an individual look which will appeal to residents from both sides of the pond.
Alix Capper-Murdoch is the founder of Miss Auto Know.