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The Volkswagen Touareg R Is a 455-HP Hybrid Porsche in Disguise

It's the first VW hybrid to ever wear the "R" badge, and it earns it.

Volkswagen would be lying if it said sharing a bloodline with Porsche didn’t have its perks. Wednesday, the company introduced a new flagship performance SUV that appears to have the same heart as Stuttgart’s Cayenne E-Hybrid: the plug-in hybrid, Europe-only Touareg R. 

The R-badged Touareg actually represents quite a few firsts for VW. It’s the first car to wear the company’s new R logo, it’s the first hybrid ever to wear a VW R badge (of any style), and it’s also the first time a hybrid has sat at the top of Volkswagen’s horsepower tree. The turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 and electric motor here makes a combined 455 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque, the exact same figures as the $81,000 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and the most grunt you can get from any road-going VW. The Touareg also sits on the same MLBevo platform as the Porsche (as well as the Lamborghini Urus, Audi Q7, Q8, and Bentley Bentayga) and boasts an identical towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds. One might even argue that this is just a Cayenne E-Hybrid with a less pretentious badge.

Equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel-drive, the Touareg R apparently always starts in electric mode and can hit 87 mph without using a drop of gas. VW hasn’t released an official electric range yet but says the SUV’s 14.1-kWh battery mounted underneath the trunk will let the Touareg R “cover most commuter distances fully electrically.”

For journeys that partially require internal combustion, the Touareg can use its navigation system to take into account upcoming road conditions, strategizing battery-use accordingly and maximizing electric range—a party trick that may rarely get shown off if you’re like most people I know and opt to use Google Maps instead of your car’s built-in system. Of course, drivers can also choose to take matters into their own hands and manage what kind of power they’d like through the Touareg R’s 15-inch infotainment system.

The R’s Travel Assist suite of driving tech can apparently work at speeds of up to 155 mph. The new Mk8 Golf GTI’s system, for comparison, can semi-autonomously get that car up to “just” 130. We’ll be the first to admit that semi-autonomous felony speeds won’t be terribly useful (or safe) outside of a German autobahn but VW stresses that these stats aren’t really achieved for the sake of going fast but more to show its Travel Assist team’s “ever higher development standards.” Fair play. When your VW SUV can go 155 mph relatively safely with your hands off the wheel, 60 should be a cakewalk. 

The new Volkswagen Touareg R will be on display alongside that new GTI at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, provided the Swiss auto show isn’t canceled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns. 


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