Volkswagen Touareg R: A car of many firsts

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Volkswagen has unveiled its 1st plug-in-hybrid R model. Not only is the Toureg R the new flagship of the brand’s Premium SUV range – it’s the most powerful offering in Volkswagen’s passenger-vehicle line-up.

With peak outputs of 340 kW and 700 Nm, the Toureg R is not quite in the league of headlining performance SUVs such as the Audi RS Q8 (441 kW/800 Nm), BMW X5M Competition (460 kW/750 Nm), Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (500 kW/900 Nm) and its fellow Geneva Show debutant, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe (450 kW/850 Nm). However, outright on-road performance has never been an objective of the Touareg range… What makes the Touareg R’s arrival notable is that it indicates the direction Volkswagen’s R brand is heading, plus it debuts a host of new technologies.

The Touareg R is the only derivative in the range that can be ordered in Lapiz Blue Metallic.

Apart from being the 1st Volkswagen R- (and all-wheel-drive) model to feature a plug-in hybrid drive, it marks the 1st time a hybrid product has been the most highly-powered car in Volkswagen’s range.

Jost Capito, the managing director of the R brand, is quoted as saying: “We are currently vigorously expanding the Volkswagen R range. Following the compact CUV models – T-Roc R and T-Roc Cabriolet R-Line – we are introducing another sport utility vehicle within a very short space of time.”

The Touareg R’s powertrain consists of a 250 kW 3.0-litre V6 turbopetrol combined with a 100 kW electric motor and a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery. The newcomer’s 8-speed automatic transmission (with Tiptronic) sends power to all 4 wheels via a centre differential lock with asymmetric dynamic torque distribution (Torsen traction) and the 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive can dynamically apportion a maximum of 70% of the propulsion to the front axle and up to 80% to the rear.

The Touareg R is not dedicated to on-road performance, it has off-road driving modes and is available with an off-road package.

All-electric drive up to 140 kph

When the battery is sufficiently charged, the newcomer always starts in the all-electric E-Mode and, according to a report, the Touareg R can travel up to 48 km on battery power alone. On the other side of the coin, the newcomer can travel up to speeds of 140 kph in E-Mode, but only in short bursts... we assume.

Can tow braked trailers of up to 3.5 tonnes

The Touareg R has been homologated to tow a 3.5-tonne trailer and is claimed to be capable of coping with this maximum weight even in E-Mode. The new model is also said to be the 1st plug-in hybrid SUV in the world to be offered with the (optional) Trailer Assist manoeuvring system, which works in conjunction with Park Assist to help a driver to easily reverse a trailer into a parking space.

The newcomer retains the adaptive air-sprung suspension of its standard stablemates.

Assisted driving at up to 250 kph

Although this is only applicable to Autobahn users, it’s still well worth a mention... Driving assistance systems that help drivers to keep their premium cars to track neatly in their freeway lanes at cruising speeds are now ubiquitous, but they don’t all work up to 250 kph! Indeed, by combining adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping system, the optional Travel Assist will allow the driver of a so-equipped Touareg R to cruise at it the flagship's electronically-limited top speed with driving assistance; they only need to keep at least a hand on the ‘wheel.   

R model accoutrements

The Toureg R’s exterior detailing is purposeful, but not showy. The package includes R-style bumpers and body-coloured lower-door sections and wheel-arch garnishes, plus a black grille, -air intakes, -window trims and -mirror housings. R logos appear on the grille, side strakes and tailgate, the LED tail-light clusters are darkened, the exhaust tips are trapezoidal and 20-inch Braga alloys standard.
Interior features include the Innovision Cockpit (with the 12-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and the 15-inch touchscreen Discover Premium Infotainment system, automatic activation and operation of the IQ.Light LED matrix headlights (interactive camera control of dipped and main beam headlights), a tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof and as well as 4-zone climate control.

The Touareg R has all the luxuries expected of the premium SUV's flagship derivative, including the expansive Digital Cockpit.  

According to Volkswagen, the driver can access specific information about the Touareg R’s hybrid functions by observing the energy flow displays in the Infotainment system (showing the battery’s energy reserve, energy supply to the drive system, and battery-charging status) and the electric-range monitor (it shows the electric range, driving profile and the potential to increase the range by non-critical deactivating systems, which saves energy). The combined power meter and rev counter on the Digital Cockpit display shows the status of the hybrid system and displays the consumption (under acceleration) or feed-in (under deceleration) of electrical energy, along with the hybrid mode. The remaining electric range and the fuel range are also shown.

R model-specific interior details include Silver Wave aluminium trim on the dash panel and door, High Gloss Black and Silver Look centre console trim, Vienna leather trim, front comfort seats with an R logos embroidered in each of their head restraints, stainless steel load-sill protection, a new-generation multifunction steering wheel (heated, with shift paddles, R logo, and a button to activate the optional Travel Assist system), illuminated stainless-steel sill panel trim with R logo, brushed stainless steel pedals and white background lighting. The stitching on the leather seats is finished in Crystal Grey, as are the edging strips on the textile floor mats and the decorative seams on the armrests, selector lever and door trim.

This example of the Touareg R is specified with the optional black Puglia leather trim.

Apart from the aforementioned extra-cost Trailer- and Travel Assist systems, the Touareg R is optionally available with 21- or 22- inch alloys, black Puglia leather trim (with diamond stitching and Sepang Blue piping), a 780-watt Dynaudio sound system, Night Vision and Front Cross-Traffic Assist.

The current Touareg line-up in SA consists of three 3.0-litre turbodiesel derivatives. Could Volkswagen South Africa add the Touareg R to its local line-up in the near future? We'll have to wait and see.

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