Gas and electric merge in powerful new European VW Touareg R

(March 1, 2020) WOLFSBURG, Germany — U.S. fans of Volkswagen's flagship Touareg SUV will miss out on a very fast and very unique new Touareg introduced to the European auto market this week — the range-topping Touareg R. Volkswagen pulled the Touareg from the U.S. market in 2018.

Powering the Touareg R is a 335-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 that pairs with a 134-horsepower electric motor adding up to 456 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is on hand, as is all-wheel drive, and VW claims that the car can go up to 87 mph in electric mode. There's no estimate for all-electric driving range available yet, but the battery pack measures 14.1 kWh.

When the battery is sufficiently charged, the new plug-in hybrid SUV always starts in the all-electric E-MODE for zero emissions. The battery capacity is designed so that the Touareg R can cover the average daily commute under electric power.

Like all Touareg models, the new R version comes with permanent all-wheel drive (4MOTION) as standard. 4MOTION and the powerful drive system means the Touareg R has also been homologated for a maximum trailer weight of more than 7,500 pounds. The premium model can cope with this maximum trailer weight even in E-MODE. As the first plug-in hybrid SUV in the world, the Touareg can also be fitted with the trailer maneuvering system Trailer Assist.

The new flagship model was designed by the Volkswagen R performance brand, which traditionally develops the sportiest models in the Volkswagen range. The Touareg R represents a paradigm shift — it is the first Volkswagen R model to feature a plug-in hybrid drive. It is also the first time a hybrid model has been the most highly-powered Volkswagen.

Volkswagen R is responsible for the visual and technical configuration, and with it the conceptual direction of the new model. The Touareg R is based on the third generation of the product line launched in 2018, which in turn was an evolution of the model first introduced in 2002.

As a typical Volkswagen R model, the Touareg R provides ultra-dynamic performance. Like at the touch of a button, the driver just has to press the accelerator to access the full output of the electric motor and the turbocharged V6 petrol engine as required. The two drive systems can then be combined in a boost function to use the vehicle’s dynamic reserves — for instance to overtake another vehicle quickly and safely.

Volkswagen has not released 0-to-60 numbers, but we expect the SUV to be incredibly quick.