VW Touareg R electrifies city commutes and trailer-tugging adventures
Volkswagen has raised the ceiling on its SUV lineup with the all-new Touareg R plug-in hybrid. Carving its way from downtown parking garage to dusty outskirts of nowhere, the Touareg R puts plug-in hybrid power to use in clean-breathing city driving, quick-bursting highway power and grip-enhancing all-wheel drive. Couple that with a driver-assistance suite and tech-loaded interior, and the R is ready to make the transition from daily commuting to long weekend quicker than it takes to text the boss you're too sick to make it in on Friday.
As it dives deeper into its commitment to electrification, Volkswagen continues splicing plug-in power into its existing fleet. The Touareg R follows the plug-in Golf and Passat and becomes the first R performance model to utilize a plug-in hybrid drive and the first hybrid to wear the crown of "most powerful Volkswagen."
With a combination of 134-hp electric motor and 335-hp 3.0-liter TSI V6, the Touareg R steps over the 415-hp V8 TDI to enjoy life at the top of the Touareg lineup. The two R power plants can be managed in a variety of ways, depending upon situation. When the battery is charged sufficiently, the Touareg automatically starts up in all-electric e-mode, supporting speeds up to 87 mph (140 km/h). VW hasn't stamped a specific electric range figure on the new R yet, outside of promising it can complete the "average daily commute," but when the 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery does reach critical level, the V6 kicks in and hybrid mode takes over.
The driver can use the touchscreen display to set desired battery power state of charge, and the engine and recuperative braking system will bring the battery up to that state and keep it at the desired level. When navigating along a preset route, the battery management system takes road and topographical data into account in keeping the battery leveled off.
Those who aren't concerned with conserving battery power can dump it much more quickly, channeling the hybrid drive's 456 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque into a short, powerful accelerative burst, like when necessary for overtaking a car — maybe even a sporty cherry-red two-door.
The 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system relies on a center differential lock to manage torque split between the front and rear axles, sending up to 80 percent rearward or up to 70 percent forward. The driver can select from various driving modes, including Off-road and Snow options, and an available off-road package adds Sand and Gravel to the modes list.
An interesting option for those that intend to regularly shift the dial to Off-road and play outdoors, the available Trailer Assist system helps drivers perform the always-tricky maneuvering necessary to back the trailer into a parking space. Volkswagen calls the Touareg R the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV with this feature, and operation can even be performed in e-mode for silent, emissions free parking. The Touareg R can tow up 7,700 lb (3,500 kg), including in e-mode.
Volkswagen also raises the upper limit on the available Travel Assist system, allowing drivers to use it on German motorways at speeds right up to the Touareg R's 155-mph (250-mph) electronically limited top speed, whereas previous iterations have been limited to 135 mph (210 km/h). The system combines adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist in keeping the vehicle on track, the driver merely hanging a hand on the steering wheel and remaining at the ready should he or she need to take over.
Outside, the Touareg R gets the basic aesthetic updates you might expect on a range-topping hybrid, including 20-in alloy wheels, R-style components, R badging and darkened LED light clusters. Options for the new model include new 22-in Estoril wheels and exclusive Lapiz Blue Metallic paint.
Inside, the standard "Innovision Cockpit" wraps the driver in the warm glow of a 15-in center infotainment touchscreen and 12-in digital instruments. Drivers can use both screens to quickly view hybrid system information including battery power, charging status and remaining electric range. The interior also includes R badging and options like a 780-watt Dynaudio sound system and exclusive olive oil-tanned Puglia leather package.
Volkswagen will hold a world premiere for the Touareg R at next week's Geneva Motor Show, where it will also debut the all-new Caddy van. The SUV will go on sale in Europe in the second half of 2020.