You’d think that the R name would mean a Golf R powertrain; a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with around 300bhp. Instead the Touareg R is a plug-in hybrid with 462PS, or 455bhp, and 700Nm of torque. It has all-wheel-drive, too, and can tow 3.5 tonnes. So you could, in theory, tow a Golf and a Polo at the same time.
Powering the Touareg R is a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 combined with a 100kW electric motor (there’s a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery under the boot floor), making this the first R car with hybrid tech. Power runs to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with up to 70 per cent able to go to the front wheels and 80 per cent to the rear.
There are no performance stats just yet but VW has said that the Touareg R can run on electric power alone at speeds of up to 140km/h, while the top speed is 250km/h, or 155mph. There’s EMODE and Hybrid mode for the hybrid powertrain, allowing you to run on EV power alone, as well as more general driving modes for the car as a whole: Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport. And there are modes for driving off-road and in snow.
Inside there’s a similar digital ‘Innivision’ dash as the new Mk8 Golf, but it’s all a little bigger – there’s a 15-inch central touchscreen and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. Through these screens you can see all the usual info, from the radio station to your navigation, but you can also delve into the details of the hybrid powertrain, including how much charge the battery has and how the energy is being deployed.
There are sporty touches dotted around as you’d expect, too, including gloss black inserts on the dash, R-badged seats, a heated leather steering wheel with paddles nestled behind it, brushed stainless steel pedals, and contrast stitching. Volkswagen have loaded the Touareg R with as much tech as it could find as well – if it was available before on a normal Touareg it’s fitted on the R.
The Touareg R looks suitably muscular, and with the black diffuser and black grille also rather sinister, but it’s the optional Lapiz Blue Metallic paint that really completes the image. 21-inch wheels come as standard but massive 22-inch rims are available as an option.
What’s confusing, however, is that despite the more aggressive look and the chunky headline power and torque figures, there’s no information yet on the changes VW has made to set the Touareg R apart from standard Touaregs when it comes to driving fun. There’s no word on the brakes (other than that energy from braking and lifting off the accelerator can charge the battery) or the suspension, for example, which seems odd when there’s an R badge involved. Hopefully some light will be shed at the Geneva show in a week’s time.