Out of curiosity, what if Volkswagen decided to make a performance SUV that will take the fight to other German car manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes Benz? Well, they have done that, kind of. The new Touareg R was not made to rival the likes of the X5 M or the GLE 63 S AMG but the demand for an R model SUV has caught on to their premium model. Since Volkswagen made the T-Roc R, which is yet to arrive in SA, they have extended the R Model range to other models such as the upcoming Arteon R and Tiguan R.
The Touareg R gets a performance engine which is an obvious deal with R models. The engine is a 3.0 liter turbopetrol V6 engine which only produces 250 kW and for a big performance SUV that’s not enough. So an electric motor coupled with a 14.1 kWh battery has been fitted and together with the internal combustion engine it produces 456 hp (340 kW) and 700 Nm of torque. Mind you, it produces more power than the GLE 53 AMG SUV which will still cost more than it. The Touareg R is the first Volkswagen R Plug-in Hybrid Model and the most powerful Volkswagen model they make to date. The powertrain is mated to an 8-Speed Tiptronic Automatic Transmission with 4Motion all-wheel drive.
The exterior has been tweaked and designed to be sporty and aggressive with added black accents to the front grille, mirror caps and rear lower bumper. And to show that this is no ordinary Touareg, there are R-badging all over the exterior like on the front fender, boot, front grille and even in the interior door sills. It’s riding on 20-inch Braga alloy wheels but there is still some optional 21-inch and 22-inch alloys. The exhaust tips are in a trapezoidal shape instead of the circular tailpipes you get on the Golf 7 R.
Unlike other performance SUVs, the Touareg R is not only limited to onroad use only but comes with the Offroad package which has extra driving modes to allow the car to tackle offroad conditions. The massive torque output of the Touareg R means that it can tow a load of up to 3 500 kg and that shouldn’t be a hassle to maneuver because you get the Trailer assist feature together with the Park assist system to help you park the trailer just right because we know the trouble of parking a hinged trailer.
As this is the top of the range model in the Volkswagen lineup, it gets a lot of equipment which puts it on the premium mark. There is the Innovision Discover Premium Infotainment System which is operated on a 15-inch touchscreen which also comes with the 12-inch Innovision digital instrument cluster and it shows the map or any other important driver information. The Touareg R also gets Volkswagen’s latest IQ.Light LED Matrix headlights which can be found on the current Golf 8 also. For more aesthetics features, it also gets a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats and 4-zone climate control.
The interior look has been well thought out and has been simplified to be as modern and luxurious as it can be. The door panels and dash panels have a Silver Wave aluminium trim, the leather seats have the R-logo on the headrest, the pedals have been finished in brushed stainless steel and soft touch material has been added to make it more premium. There are other features you get on the Touareg R like the 780 watts Dynaudio sound system and night vision.
So as far as I’m concerned, this is an SUV that is entering a dangerous territory because already there are some SUVs of the same calibre that are already dominating the segment without breaking a sweat. But then again, we can trust Volkswagen to deliver well with the Touareg R and hopefully will impress with not only looks and performance but with driving dynamics. The Touareg R has not been announced for SA arrival unfortunately but we hope they consider our market in future.