VW‘s R brand has just gained its first-ever plug-in hybrid. It’s the Touareg R, which is packing a V6 twin-turbo and an electric motor, making for a combined output of 456bhp and 516lb ft of torque.
That’s comfortably more power than the V8 diesel version of the Touareg, but a lot less torque. Plus, the R hybrid has to cart around a heavy 14.1kWh battery pack, which means it’ll almost certainly be slower despite officially being the top dog of the range. Awks.
VW hasn’t given any acceleration figures, but the expectation is for the Touareg R to dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in around five seconds. The V8 TDI, meanwhile, does it in 4.9. But still, the R has plenty going for it, including a proper all-wheel drive system with a physical connection between the axles.
Some hybrids billed as AWD have one axle powered by an internal combustion engine and the other turned by electricity, but in the Toaureg, the motor is integrated within the eight-speed automatic gearbox. This sends torque to all wheels via a centre differential, which can distribute up to 70 per cent of thrust to the front wheels or up to 80 at the rear.
In electric-only mode, the Touareg R can travel at speeds of up to 87mph, although if you’re more sympathetic with the throttle, it’ll be possible to go 27 miles without the engine kicking in. The battery pack sits under the boot floor, which has impacted luggage space – it’s dropped from 810 litres to a still handy 610.
Fitting the battery in has also meant it wasn’t possible to give the Touareg R either VW Group’s active anti-roll bar setup nor the rear-wheel steering system, although Car Throttle sister title Auto Express reports that both should be added at a later date. Right now, you do at least get air suspension as standard.
The exterior gets the de rigueur angrier front and rear bumpers, along with the signature R hue of Lapiz blue. The spicier Touareg has also been given VW’s updated R branding, and in a departure from the usual quad-oval tailpipe arrangement, a pair of trapezoidal exhaust outlets.
In the cabin, you’ll find a snazzy new sports steering wheel, aluminium trim and R-branded seats clad in Vienna leather. Behind the new wheel is a 12-inch digital cockpit, paired to a 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Want one? Orders should open during the fourth quarter of 2020.
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