There is no shortage of driving modes, with the driver able to choose from Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual, Off-Road and Snow beyond the Electric and Hybrid modes. Keen observers will note that it does without the Race mode of other R models, and there’s a good reason why.
Switching through the various driving modes on a variety of different roads, it doesn’t take long to conclude the emphasis here is less on all-out performance than overall comfort and refinement. At typical motorway speeds, the Touareg R feels quite responsive with strong torque qualities that give it outstanding flexibility and the sort of in-gear acceleration belying its 2533kg kerb weight. But it is no fire-breathing powerhouse, and its exhaust note is extremely subdued by Volkswagen R’s usual standards.
This might confuse some prospective buyers expecting something more in keeping with the earlier Touareg R50. But where sales are concerned, I’m sure the Touareg R will find greater appeal as it is than if it was positioned as a more hardened offering against models from Audi Sport, BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. Its balance between comfort, refinement and performance is just about spot on, making for relaxed progressed, hushed cruising qualities and a good turn of speed when you go looking for it in Hybrid mode.
Volkswagen claims 0-62mph in 5.1sec and a top speed limited to 155mph in hybrid mode. This compares with the 5.7sec and 149mph of the Audi Q7 60 TFSIe quattro, which has the same driveline and combined output of 456bhp and 516lb ft.
When the battery charge runs low, it is possible to charge it to a pre-set level by using the combustion engine as a generator in Eco mode. At the same time, the energy regeneration is also increased, providing an added braking effect when you step off the accelerator along with the usual coasting function, which idles the engine on periods of trailing throttle.
Despite the significant weight brought by its hybrid drivetrain, the Touareg R is suitably agile in Sport mode. However, its dynamic properties are far from the whip-crack standard the R in its name implies in other Volkswagen model ranges. The steering is nicely weighted and quite responsive off dead-centre, while the standard air suspension provides the new SUV with well-controlled body movement during all-out cornering along with a cosseting ride in Comfort mode.