The Volkswagen Touareg has achieved only modest sales since its launch in 2003, mostly because of its lack of seven-seater capability and premium price tag compared with many of its Japanese rivals. The second-generation model is now in the works and will hopefully address many of the issues of the current version. Due to be launched in late 2010 as a 2011 model, the new Touareg will be slightly smaller than the current one but will feature a range of more fuel efficient engines and be able to seat up to seven passengers.

The new platform will be shared with the next-generation Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 and will feature increased use of aluminum to keep weight down. It will also be slightly sportier and adopt styling influences from the more recent Tiguan SUV.

Previously, test-mules wearing the current Touareg’s sheet metal were spotted, revealing several key changes including a wider rear bumper and misaligned fuel filler cap. The front of the car also featured a different intake system, positioned lower than on the current model. Shots of the interior also revealed several major changes, including an all-new instrument cluster and a similar steering wheel to the unit found in the Mk VI Golf.

These latest shots show an actual prototype of the next-generation Touareg for the time, caught while undergoing hot-weather testing in California.

As for the powertrains, the new engine lineup for the 2011 Touareg is expected to start with a 280hp (208kW) 3.2L V6 petrol engine and top out with a 345hp (257kW) 4.2L petrol V8. A pair of diesel engines will also be on offer including 2.7L and 3.0L turbodiesels. All the engines will be matted with a six-speed automatic gearbox, though VW’s new seven-speed DSG may also be made available.