It seems a bit ludicrous that the most powerful production car that Volkswagen has ever produced is an SUV with a six-cylinder petrol engine and part-electric powertrain. It’s a sign of how far things have come, however, as 20 years ago the most powerful production Volkswagen was a 12-cylinder Phaeton which came with a comparatively miserly 444bhp – and a considerable thirst.
Whilst the Phaeton is a small part of VW history, the Touareg – which was a contemporary of the Phaeton – has continued to sit at the top of VW’s SUV line-up and with the Touareg R, has gained a new halo model.
The Touareg R is powered by the latest version of the PHEV powertrain which has already been deployed in the Audi A8 and Bentley Bentayga – among others. It comprises a twin turbocharged V6 which is aided by a 126bhp, 258lb-ft electric motor housed in the transmission to generate that maximum system power of 456bhp and 516lb-ft. Up to 70 per cent of that power can be sent to the front axle, and up to 80 per cent to the rear, depending on what’s needed.
Despite the Touareg R’s size and heft, it’ll do zero to 62mph in 5.1 seconds and accumulate speed until it runs into the 155mph limiter. If utility is more important than speed, it can tow 3.5 tonnes and should be quite handy at going off-road, too.
On the electric side, a 14.3kWh battery enables the Touareg R to travel up to 28 miles in E-MODE which has helped it obtain WLTP figures of 94.2mpg and tax-friendly 67g/km of CO2. Using a mode 3 cable and 7.2kW wall box will deliver a full charge in 2.5 hours. A regular three-pin will take 8.5 hours.
As you’d expect for a halo model, the Volkswagen Touareg R comes loaded with technology and equipment, as well as some notable R design touches. For example, it gets more aggressive front and rear bumpers, exclusive 22 inch Estoril alloys, plenty of R badging all-round as well as darkened taillights, a black grille, mirror caps and window trim.
R features continue on the inside with ergoComfort, diamond-quilted leather seats with contrasting piping, a unique heated sports steering wheel and illuminated R-branded door sills.
Alongside all these design features, there’s a lot of tech on offer through the ‘Innovation Cockpit’ which incorporates a 15 inch central infotainment touchscreen and 12.3 inch digital cockpit display. This is augmented by a head-up display and optional night vision. There are six USB ports (four front and two rear), four zone air conditioning, a panoramic sunroof and adjustable air suspension – to keep occupants comfortable and the driving experience engaging.
Driver aids are also plentiful, with a 360-degree camera, LED matrix headlights with dynamic light assist high beam control and Level 2 driving automation thanks to Travel Assist. This uses a camera and sensor-controlled system which can steer, brake and accelerate at speeds of up to 155mph. In addition to this, the Driver Assistance Package Plus includes emergency assist, front cross traffic assist, predictive pedestrian protection, side scan and proactive occupant safety systems.
The Touareg R is available to order right now for UK customers. It starts at £71,995 on the road.