Volkswagen Touareg R review

Is the combination of the large Touareg SUV, the Volkswagen R badge and a plug-in hybrid powertrain a winning one?

Pros: looks great, fantastic interior, great powertrain

Cons: very expensive, thirsty unless regularly plugged in

The Volkswagen Touareg is established as the company’s range-topping SUV. It is well-known to be spacious, luxurious and well-equipped. What it is not known for is sporting prowess. So where does that leave the new R-badged model? And how does all that sit with a plug-in hybrid powertrain under the bonnet?

VW Touareg R Design

This is the easy part of the review, as the R updates to the exterior of the Touareg turn a modestly handsome big SUV into one with a lot more presence. There’s lots of dark detailing, including the massive black grille up front and roof rails. A set of sporty black 20-inch alloys are fitted, too – though those pictured are the optional 22-inch rims. It all works very well with the Lapiz Blue metallic paint shown here and, though that colour is available elsewhere in the Touareg line-up, the R model features plenty of unique details that ensure it won’t be mistaken for the R-Line specification.

VW Touareg R Interior

The interior of the Touareg R gets a modest makeover, too, with lots of R branding, including on the leather upholstered ‘ergoComfort’ seats. The standout features, though, are common to all versions of the big SUV, namely the massive touchscreen in the all-digital dashboard and the vast amounts of passenger room in all five seats. Sure, the touchscreen doesn’t run the latest Volkswagen Group software, but it’s quick and easy to use, and it looks great. For the most part, it’s a high-quality cabin, too, though at this price point, buyers might want switchgear that’s not found in lesser VW models.

Due to the packaging of the hybrid components, the R model’s boot is a little smaller than other cars’ in the range, but it still holds 655 litres, which is ginormous by any standards.

VW Touareg R Performance & Drive

Drive to all four wheels, through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, gives the R all-weather traction and security. A turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine is augmented by a 100kW electric motor and, working together, they max out at a significant 462hp and 700Nm of torque. That allows the Touareg to do the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.1 seconds, which is incredibly fast by any measure. Shame the V6 engine is so muted. We’d expect it to be a little sportier sounding given there’s an R badge on the car.

Of course, you’ll love the absolute silence that’s possible when the car is driving in purely electric mode. According to official figures, it can do so for up to 47km, but most people will struggle to see any better than 35km in our experience. In reality, the electric portion of the powertrain is more to reduce load on the petrol engine and keep fuel bills down, as, when you do a long journey in this car, where it’s not possible to charge up the battery, the fuel consumption is quite high, even at a modest cruise.

Despite the sporting appearance, the motorway is this car’s natural habitat, too, where its comfort and refinement come to the fore. It’s not a particularly engaging car to drive on a twisty road, in spite of the considerable performance on tap.

VW Touareg R Pricing

The Touareg R costs €95,630 on the road, which is a lot of money, especially when the same hybrid powertrain can be had for a little more in the Audi Q7 and Q8 or even the Porsche Cayenne. Nonetheless, against other versions of the Touareg, it fares better, especially if you value the sporting appearance. For example, the 3.0 diesel model, with the R-Line specification, isn’t far off €99,000, and that’s a lot slower and has no zero-emissions capability. Nonetheless, the hybrid powertrain can be had in the Touareg for considerably less - €82,230 – if you’re willing to forego the R image and live with the more restrained looking Elegance specification instead.

Carzone Verdict: 3.5/5

It’s easy to be impressed by the sporting looks and significant performance of the Touareg R, and it has a fabulous interior, too. Obviously, like all plug-in hybrids, it only really makes sense if you can plug it in to charge up the battery frequently, and it’s not as sporting to drive as its specification suggests it will be. The R model is also quite a bit more expensive than the entry-level hybrid Touareg, but on the flipside it’s more affordable than the sporty looking diesel model. Depending on your perspective and requirements, it’s either wildly expensive or great value for money.

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