Volkswagen has electrified its large luxury SUV. Literally. The German brand’s latest release is a Touareg R and true to VW’s heritage of R-models being a bit special, this one certainly is.
If you are a dedicated follower of all things VW, you’ll recall the original Touareg R50, which debuted in 2007 and displayed the brand’s aspirations of validating diesel as a performance vehicle fuel source. Powered by a 5.0-litre V10 turbodiesel engine, the Touareg R50 was good for 258kW and 850Nm, making quite a statement at the time.
A decade and a bit later, VW’s done a new Touareg R and it is very different from the R50, with petrol instead of diesel power.
The new R
This R-version is immediately distinguishable from other Touaregs due to its Lapiz metallic finish and R-specific front and rear bumpers. The rear light clusters feature a dimmed finish, and the Touareg R rolls 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, although customers will have the option of sizing-up to 22-inches, if they wish.
Beyond the purposeful appearance, the most impressive aspect fo this Touareg R is its blend of performance and economy. VW is showing its future R-division model strategy with this new Touareg. and that appears to be hybridization, as this SUV becomes the first R-product with a battery-assisted powertrain.
Big combined output numbers
The Touareg R is a plug-in hybrid that combines the company’s 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, with additional electric power provided by a 14.1kWh battery pack. This configuration allows a total system output of 340kW and 700Nm when the V6 engine and 100kW electric motor are running in synergy.
With those outputs, you’d expect performance that is very much in the realm of all thing swift and SUV. The Touareg R shouldn’t disappoint in this respect, although VW is coy about the exact potency of its new performance-SUV, choosing not to release an official 0-100kph time yet.
What we do know, is that the Touareg R will run to its 250km/h limiter and can run at 140km/h on only battery power. However that would severely and quickly deplete its electric energy reserves, which are most useful at low-speed.
VW isn’t claiming any combined economy statistics for the Touareg R, but expect this large hybrid SUV to be very light on fuel in traditionally taxing driving environments. The electric motor system can operate independently at low speed for up to 48km, and that should save Touareg R owners a lot of fuel in congested city driving conditions.
To ensure the Touareg R has enhanced stability and driving dynamics, true to VW’s R-division standards, the drivetrain has been upgraded. VW’s engineers have configured a specific Torsen center-differential calibration, to help the 4Motion system shift torque to whichever axle has the best traction urgency.
Touareg R’s 4Motion system can channel 70% of the powertrain’s output to the front wheels, or 80% to the rear, as vehicle behaviour and road conditions demand. ZF’s proven eight-speed automatic transmission controls the general driving dynamics.
The Touareg R is a trailblazing technology integration for VW. It becomes the first plug-in R-model, and also VW’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle, with both a petrol engine and battery-powered electric motor.
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