Currently reading: Volkswagen Touareg R: firm's most powerful model costs £71,995
Porsche-derived hybrid powertrain sends hot Touareg from 0-62mph in 5.1sec and musters 94.2mpg

Volkswagen has revealed UK pricing and specification details for the most powerful model it has ever put into series production: the Touareg R.

In keeping with the high-performance R sub-brand’s recent commitment to electrification, the new SUV uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to deliver 456bhp and 516lb ft, and can travel for up to 28 miles in electric-only mode. This powertrain propels the near-2.5-tonne SUV from 0-62mph in 5.1sec - just 0.4sec slower than the Golf R hatchback - and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. It also manages an official 94.2mpg on the WLTP cycle and emits 67g/km of CO2. 

The latest and largest addition to Volkswagen's expanding R performance line-up is priced from £71,995, and brings a raft of added equipment over the standard Touareg in addition to the performance boost. The quilted, ventilated leather sports seats are heated in both the front and rear, as is the sports steering wheel, while blue upholstery stitching, R badging and a 30-colour ambient lighting function set the interior apart from that of the standard car. 

The R also brings air suspension, a park assist function, matrix LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and four-zone air conditioning. Visually, the new car follows its R stablemates in adopting a performance-inspired look, with optional Lapiz Blue paint, R badges, a subtle bodykit and gloss black inserts, plus 20in Braga alloy wheels or optional 22in Estoril rims.

Last year, Autocar was shown around the Touareg R by then head of the R division, Jost Capito, who revealed why Volkswagen had opted to make the model a plug-in hybrid rather than use the more powerful mild-hybrid V8 from sibling brand Audi’s recently launched RS Q8.

“The Volkswagen Touareg is the perfect car for the step into electrification,” explained Capito. “The engines from these other cars were never considered, as the Touareg is designed as a comfortable fast cruiser that needs to go from comfortable to sporty, but not extreme sporty. This is a car for enthusiasts but also for people with active lifestyles.”

87 Volkswagen toureg r 2020 official reveal interview

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The petrol-electric set-up is essentially the same one that has already been seen in the latest Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Panamera. It comprises a 335bhp turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 mated to a 134bhp electric motor that sits between the engine and the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and is powered by a 14.1kWh battery mounted beneath the boot floor, which charges from empty to full in 2.5 hours from a standard 7kW charger. 

“Using this drivetrain was a bit opportunistic,” explained Capito. “With the relatively low volumes that R achieves, we can’t develop a stand-alone hybrid system, so we have to look around for what’s already available in the [Volkswagen] group. If we do a car that can’t be built on the existing line, the price goes way up. This is why I love working for R, because I can deliver cars that are for people who love driving yet are also affordable.”

As you would expect, there are numerous hybrid-related settings. Among them is E-Mode, which allows electric-only driving at speeds of up to 87mph before the V6 kicks in. It also fires up when you request kickdown by fully opening the throttle.

When the battery is running low, it’s possible to set the level of charge that you desire, which the system then achieves by using the V6 as a generator and increasing the level of regenerative braking.

To enable the Touareg to maintain its off-road prowess and 3.5-tonne towing weight (around 80% of customers tow with their Touaregs), the R model retains the Torsen-equipped four-wheel-drive transmission with various on- and off-road driving modes. Unlike the Golf R and T-Roc R, however, it has no Race mode. In normal running, up to 80% of the engine’s torque can be sent to the front axle and up to 70% to the rear axle.

As with the regular Touareg, customers will be able to order an Off-Road Package complete with improved underbody protection and extra traction control settings for driving on gravel, mud and sand.

86 Volkswagen toureg r 2020 official reveal drift

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The regular Touareg’s air springs and adaptive dampers are also retained, unusually with no alterations made to either hardware or software. “We didn’t feel we needed to make any changes,” Capito explained. “The standard set-up is good and we wanted to retain the car’s everyday usability. This is a car that will have to do everything.”

The need to package a bulky battery above the rear axle means the Touareg R isn’t available with either the 48V active anti-roll bars that are optional on other models or the four-wheel steering system. However, Capito revealed these systems are likely to be incorporated into a future facelifted model.

What has been included is the latest version of Volkswagen’s Travel Assist adaptive cruise control system, which can steer, accelerate and brake the Touareg at speeds of up to 155mph – 15mph more than the original iteration.

91 Volkswagen toureg r 2020 official reveal dashboard


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James Disdale

James Disdale
Title: Special correspondent

James is a special correspondent for Autocar, which means he turns his hand to pretty much anything, including delivering first drive verdicts, gathering together group tests, formulating features and keeping topped-up with the latest news and reviews. He also co-hosts the odd podcast and occasional video with Autocar’s esteemed Editor-at-large, Matt Prior.

For more than a decade and a half James has been writing about cars, in which time he has driven pretty much everything from humble hatchbacks to the highest of high performance machines. Having started his automotive career on, ahem, another weekly automotive magazine, he rose through the ranks and spent many years running that title’s road test desk. This was followed by a stint doing the same job for monthly title, evo, before starting a freelance career in 2019. The less said about his wilderness, post-university years selling mobile phones and insurance, the better.

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abkq 11 March 2021

The mess which the horizontal bars of the grille fail to hide.

With the proliferation of sensors and other electronic aids, a new design language for the front is urgently needed. 

IainL 11 March 2021
I know Autocar are just reporting the facts presented to them, but to suggest that this 2.5 tonne 'car' will actually achieve 94.2mpg or emit 67g/km of CO2 is disingenuous. The electrical energy provided by plugging it in is no more free from emissions than the petrol it consumes. The WLTP figures are a farce and the sooner they are discredited the better.
Antony Riley 11 March 2021

I agree when oh when will manuactures be held to book over all these over egged milage figues ?  Mind VW being the most honest car maker on the planet I might have to agree with those figures. NOT this lying company who is still being investigated for false emission figures are supposed to believe we think those claims are true Joke come on Autocar stop thinking and publising such tosh. This Towrag will only be seen at V W,s head quarters and their big dealerships as  directors and managers park spaces at these dealers. Who in their right mind would buy this and for that over priced selling price. Mind in two years it will be the go to druggies sellers car as will be selling at about £22.50 !! 

jer 25 February 2020

About 21mpg v8 economy

.....When the battery is done. This motor is not very economical in the A7 never mind this big barge.