Volkswagen Touareg R: go-faster SUV takes aim at Audi SQ7

Published: 24 February 2020

► Volkswagen Toureg R boasts a PHEV drivetrain
► With 456bhp, it’ll accelerate quickly and is limited to 155mph
► Battery-only driving for the ‘average commute’  

Meet the new Volkswagen Touareg R. It’s one of an ever-growing line-up of performance SUVs that are doing their best to keep those with a taste for high seating positions firmly wedged in the outside lane. It’s a PHEV for those all-important environmental brownie points, and Volkswagen says it will cover the average commute on battery alone – perfect for those who spend lots of time in town – so expect that to be about 30 miles.

Currently Volkswagen isn’t giving away too many figures, so we don’t know how quickly accelerates, how much petrol it uses or how far it’ll go in EV mode. But we do know that its range-topping SUV comes with permanent four-wheel drive out of the box and will tow 3.5 tonnes – cementing its reputation as the horsebox-owning driver’s best friend this side of a Range Rover.

It goes up against some equally quick rivals – not least some in-house opposition in the form of the Audi SQ7. But undoubtedly, the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE will appear on the same shopping list as this car, as will the Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Pace. So it’s going to have to be good.

The Touareg R is the first R-branded PHEV to roll out of Volkswagen, so it’s important for Volkswagen as it pushes towards the complete electrification of its range. It’s also the first first four-wheel drive PHEV the company has produced.

So what do we know?

Well, the Wolfsburg boffins have been letting their hair down with this one, and it’s certainly a sporting-looking thing. It’s packed with gloss black detailing and is liberally sprinkled with R-branding. In standard form you get 21-inch alloy wheels, which can be upgraded to 22-inch rims for those with unlimited tyre budgets.

It’s powered by Volkswagen’s familiar 2995cc petrol V6, which develops 326bhp on its own through an eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. Combine that with 130bhp of electric power – with instant torque that comes with it – and you’re looking at impressive mid-range punch and outright acceleration.

The battery pack has a capacity of 14.1kWh and is built into compartment under the boot floor. This helps create a variable torque split front to rear, with a maximum of 70% going to the front or 80% to the rear. Maximum speed in EV mode is 87mph.

Any other tech?

Like all other Touaregs, it comes with the excellent digital Innovision Cockpit, which combines a 12-inch instrument panel and 15-inch central touchscreen. There are all the usual hybrid drive modes and visual functions to play with, including an electric range monitor which offers the potential to shut down energy-consuming systems to extend battery range.

It also comes with VW’s Trailer Assist package, which takes a lot of the stress out of manoeuvring and driving while towing. It can silently park for you in E-Mode, by simpy hitting the ‘Park Assist’ function. All very cool, and democratising if you’re an amateur when it comes to towing.

When will we know more?

Officially it’ll be launched at Geneva, and expect the Touareg to hit UK showrooms in the summer. We’d expect it to come in at around £70,000 but expect some competitive leasing packages to appear soon after it goes on sale – this is something that the Golf and Passat R do very well, and there’s no reason to think that the Touareg will be any different in that respect.

VW Touareg PHEV charging

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR