VW Touareg R is a rousing 456-hp PHEV, the R division's first

Jonathon Ramsey

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Volkswagen's R division has its first plug-in hybrid model, the Touareg R. Under its hood is a 3.0-liter turbocharged TFSI V6 gas engine with 335 horsepower, with electric assistance provided by an e-motor producing 134 hp. When goaded into Boost mode, combined system output comes in at 456 hp and 516 lb-ft. This makes the Touareg R the most powerful R model and the most powerful Touareg, and it's even graced with a max tow rating of 7,716 pounds. A 14.1-kWh battery placed under the load floor powers the e-motor through what VW calls the "average daily commute" in all-electric E-Mode, suspected to be about 30 miles. Shifting through an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, the standard 4Motion all-wheel drive bestows capability in almost all driving situations via Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual drive modes; ordering the optional Off-Road Package adds Sand and Gravel modes for true all-terrain readiness.

Assuming enough battery charge, the SUV always starts in E-Mode. It can run under electric power up to 87 miles per hour, after which the V6 kicks in to reach the vehicle's top speed of 155 miles per hour. The navigation system communicates with the battery management software, working to put enough juice in the battery to enable electric driving at the destination. The driver can also command the hybrid system to charge the battery to a specific amount in 20% increments, whether that's above or below the battery's current state of charge. 

Standard Black Style and R-Line treatments inside and out make the Touareg R stand out from the rest of the lineup. The launch car wears Lapiz Blue Metallic, exclusive to this model, along with R badging on the black grille, R-Line body-colored bumpers and lower door cladding, black louvers over intakes, black glasshouse trim and mirror caps, darkened LED taillights, 20-inch Braga wheels, and illuminated stainless steel sill plates. A selection of 21- and 22-inch wheels can be specced, too.

The R-Line interior pairs gray Vienna leather with crystal gray stitching, with Silver Wave aluminum trim on the instrument panel and door cards, high gloss black and silver-look center console trim, and brushed stainless steel pedals. Digital tech includes a new multifunction steering wheel ahead of the 12-inch Innovision Digital Cockpit, a 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, Light LED Matrix headlights, and four-zone climate control. Optional features include Travel Assist, an almost-hands-free adaptive cruise that works up to 155 mph, and Trailer Assist.

Volkswagen's held out on a number of specs, such as 0-62 mph time and luggage capacity factoring in battery placement. We expect to get those numbers and more at the Touareg R's debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The PHEV crossover will join the Golf GTE and Passat GTE in Volkswagen's expanding hybrid lineup when it goes on sale in Europe in the latter half of this year.

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