The powerful gas-electric VW is going on sale this summer . . . elsewhere.
Volkswagen’s R performance brand, the same one churning out the hottest Golfs you can buy, continues to grow—just not in the United States. The foreign-market R family is growing by way of a 456-hp, gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid version of the Touareg crossover SUV. Yes, that Touareg, the luxurious one VW stopped selling here in 2017 because of painfully slow sales.
So, while the U.S. continues to get but just one full-blown R performance model in the form of the Golf R, other areas of the world will now be sent a spicy Touareg in addition to R-badged variants of Volkswagen’s such as the T-Roc. Sales flop or not, we still kind of miss the overengineered Touareg—the denizen of VW dealership lots shared some bones with the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne, for example. This plug-in sporty version, then, isn’t helping our occasional-onset pangs of lust for the SUV, which in its newest form represents the most attainable way into the same basic “MLB” vehicle architecture used in the current Audi Q8, Bentley Bentayga, and Lamborghini Urus.
The Touareg R means serious business, too. Thank its turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine and powerful electric motor, the latter of which produces 134 horsepower on its own and is capable of pushing the big SUV to 87 mph without any assistance from its gas-sipping confidant. Supplying power to the electric motor is a 14.1-kWh battery pack that lives under the luggage compartment, while an eight-speed automatic gearbox channels the powertrain’s grunt to all four wheels courtesy of the R’s standard all-wheel-drive system. Total system output, as we’ve mentioned, is a heady 456 horsepower.
Although the VW’s electric-only driving range remains under wraps, the Touareg R’s corporate cousin, the 443-hp Bentayga Hybrid (which uses a similar powertrain), manages an estimated 16 miles of electric motoring from its 17.3-kWh battery. With less energy stored in its pack, the Touareg R surely falls short of its British family member’s outright EV range, though likely not by much given its lighter weight. With less SUV to lug around and more power, the Touareg’s hybrid setup should deliver sprightlier acceleration than the Bentley, at least, which is manufacturer-estimated to reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Of course, any and all discussion of the Touareg plug-in’s performance is as hypothetical as considering its utility to American consumers. We Yanks won’t experience either, because there’s no way the pricey Touareg, let alone a surely even pricier high-performance plug-in hybrid variant, would ever make it to the U.S. Our European friends, meanwhile, can look forward to getting their hands on the Touareg R model sometime this summer.