What is it?
It might surprise you, but this is the most powerful production Volkswagen ever made. You might think the car that carries that tag would be a hot hatch, super saloon or even an electric vehicle, but no, it’s a large SUV called Touareg R.
This is also the first plug-in hybrid to wear the firm’s famous R badge, so we’ve been behind the wheel to find out what it’s like.
Most of the Touareg R’s new features are under the bonnet in the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, but there are actually a wide range of updates including an ultra-wide infotainment system and LED Matrix headlights.
It also gets trailer assist, making it the only PHEV on the market with this technology, while you also get the same practical cabin and imposing looks as the regular model.
What’s under the bonnet?
Unlike many PHEVs, the Touareg R doesn’t make do with some tiny petrol engine, instead boasting a 3.0-litre V6 unit that’s hooked up to an electric motor and batteries. The result is a combined output of 456bhp and 700Nm of torque.
Despite its size, that performance means this is one quick SUV. The 0-60mph sprint comes up in 4.9 seconds while the top speed is limited to 155mph. Despite being this rapid, official fuel consumption figures read 95.2mpg while CO2 emissions are just 67g/km. It can also go 29 miles on electric power alone.
How does it look?
Even the regular Touareg has a lot of road presence, but in R trim this is turned up to 11, with sporty styling tweaks and black accents across the body work.
It’s not overtly sporty, though, looking more like a high-spec trim level than a high-performance model, which gives it some understated class. It looks more like a premium product than a lairy sports SUV.
What’s it like inside?
Much like the exterior, the interior doesn’t do much to shout about its sporting credentials, but that’s no bad thing because the Touareg has an excellent cabin. There are plenty of high quality materials and it’s incredibly spacious for all passengers.
The PHEV powertrain does mean the R has slightly less boot space than the regular model, while the charging cable bag takes up quite a bit of room too. That said, the boot floor is flat and folding the rear seats expands the space on offer considerably.
What’s the spec like?
There’s plenty of standard equipment on offer because the Touareg R sits at the top of the firm’s SUV line-up, with prices starting at just under £72,000. For example, diamond-quilted seats with contrast blue piping, four-zone climate control and a full panoramic sunroof are all included.
There’s also a large central touchscreen infotainment system measuring 15 inches, while a 12-inch digital cockpit is located ahead of the driver.
The Volkswagen Touareg R feels like it’s caught in the middle of being two things at once. On the one hand, it’s a quiet and comfortable cruiser that can see off shorter journeys on pure electric power. However, it also has a lot of performance, yet doesn’t really manage to excite.
It actually serves to remind just how good the regular Touareg is. If you’re looking for a comfortable SUV and don’t need the extra performance of the R, the regular model might serve you best.