A bit of a conundrum, this. How can a 2.6-tonne 4x4 put the Sport back into SUV? Volkswagen reckons the R50 Touareg is the answer – a tweaked-up version of its luxury 4x4. Except here, the emphasis is firmly on sporting luxury rather than pampering outright.
It's telling they've picked the diesel version for the range-topper. The R50 is based on the oddball of the SUV world: the 5.0-litre V10 TDI. That means 345bhp and – wait for it – a monumental 627lb ft of torque.
So, yes, it shifts with an alacrity that no lumbering 4x4 has a right to, scuttling to 62mph in just 6.7 seconds in a blur of Boeing-style thrust as you're pushed back into the squidgy leather seats.
Sounds more like a luxury rocket than a hard-charging sports car...
That's the thing with the R50. It doesn't feel that sporty, but the bare figures suggest otherwise. Distance-shortening shove is never more than a toe-prod away and it makes for a relaxing driving style. Especially as peak torque arrives at just 2000rpm.
So is a clean diesel the way forward for so-called sporty 4x4s? VW claims the R50 is neither dirtier nor thirstier than the standard 5.0 TDI – which means 22.4mpg and 333g/km. We actually managed a decent 21mpg over a week's driving; hardly something to be proud of, but not disastrous in a £62k monster...
And what else do you get for your money?
R50 spec brings a host of goodies, including those imposing 21-inch ten-spoke alloys (great news! They don't ruin the ride – this thing merely flattens road imperfections into submission) and an R design package. So you get a roof spoiler, oval tailpipes and wider wheel arches.
It all sounds a bit bling, but it's not. This is a luxury SUV that just happens to be extra fast and extra equipped to cope with anything that family life throws at it. Maybe it was a guilty pleasure, but several of us at CAR – people who normally rail against big, lumbering 4x4s – rather liked it...
Should we be feeling guilty? The R50 will sell in tiny numbers but it's fun. Harmful fun, but fun no less. Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say.