Volkswagen Touareg plug-in hybrid review: big change for popular SUV

Volkswagen Touareg plug-in hybrid review: big change for popular SUV
  • PublishedJune 3, 2024

V8-like performance with EV efficiency: that’s the sales pitch for Volkswagen’s Touareg R, the brand’s first plug-in hybrid in Australia.

The new flagship model combines a turbocharged V6 and an electric motor to deliver the sort of thrust once reserved for performance cars. The hybrid system has an impressive pedigree: it’s identical to that once found in the Porsche Cayenne.

On tap is a combined 340kW of power and 700Nm of torque, enough to propel the R to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds. That’s not bad for a sizeable SUV that comfortably seats five adults and comes lavishly appointed.

Peer past the badge and it’s pure luxury inside, with plush leather seats, quality finishes, adjustable ambient lighting and a vast glass roof. A mass of pixels across the dash reinforces the hi-tech feel. The price tag is steep at about $140,000 drive-away but the Touareg R is brimming with trinkets.

As with other Touaregs it has a powered tailgate, electric front seats, a 12-inch digital drive display and a vibrant 15-inch central touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Other goodies include 22-inch alloy wheels, quad-zone ventilation, a heated steering wheel with power adjustment, night vision, heated rear seats and a higher grade of leather.

The 14-speaker Dynaudio sound system is a big improvement over the lower-level Touaregs.

The Touareg’s cabin is lavishly appointed. Picture: Supplied

The Touareg’s cabin is lavishly appointed. Picture: Supplied

The R stands out visually, too, with unique bumpers, black design elements and blue highlights inside and out, from brake calipers to seat stitching. The metal pedals and illuminated “R” scuff plates on the doors are a nice touch. Riding on air suspension the Touareg R is cosseting over bumps, at least in its most comfortable drive modes.

The cabin hushes outside noise, delivering a serene environment in keeping with the luxury positioning.

Driven in EV mode it’s quiet and smooth, although it doesn’t offer the thrust of the hybrid set-up.

There’s a more modest 100kW and 400Nm to play with, which works fine for trundling around the suburbs but doesn’t leave much in reserve at country road speeds.

The plug-in Touareg has a claimed EV-only range of 51km. Picture: Supplied.

The plug-in Touareg has a claimed EV-only range of 51km. Picture: Supplied.

It pays to be gentle on the right pedal to avoid waking the petrol engine if fuel efficiency is your mission, although that’s easier said than done when a decent hill enters the equation.

Claimed EV range is 51km but 40-45km seems more realistic. That’ll suffice for most people’s everyday running, if you’re happy to do without the hybrid performance.

Once the battery is depleted the miraculous claimed fuel-use figures (just 3.3 litres per 100km) disappear into the rear vision mirror.

The Touareg’s fuel use can easily head into double figures if you’re regularly enjoying the full 340kW.

It’s a brisk device and one rarely left wanting for extra pull.

Activate Sport mode and the suspension tightens for sharper responses and better body control through corners, while low-profile tyres provide prodigious grip.

The battery takes two and a half hours to charge from a wallbox charger. Picture: Supplied.

The battery takes two and a half hours to charge from a wallbox charger. Picture: Supplied.

The brakes are powerful, too, aided by the regenerative function of the electric motor.

It’s deceptively capable, although you are constantly reminded of its size and weight when changing direction in a hurry.

It achieves this impressive poise without the rear steering system and active stabiliser bars of the lesser R-Line Touareg (they were omitted due to space consumed by the hybrid system).

When it comes time to recharge, the 17.9kWh battery takes as little as 2.5 hours through a wallbox charger. A standard power point takes roughly eight hours.

As with all PHEVs, the Touareg R doesn’t deliver on the best of both worlds sales pitch.

It also doesn’t sit comfortably in the R performance range occupied by fast Golfs and Tiguans.

But it’s an impressive luxury SUV that can also deliver driving pace and pampering that luxury rivals charge loads more for.

The Touareg shares components with more expensive luxury SUVS. Picture: Supplied

The Touareg shares components with more expensive luxury SUVS. Picture: Supplied

Volkswagen Touareg R

PRICE: From about $140,000 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Five yrs/unlimited km, $3400 for five yrs/75,000km

SAFETY: Eight airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot and lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert with braking, fatigue detection, speed-sign recognition

ENGINE: 3.0-litre V6 turbo hybrid, 340kW/700Nm

THIRST: 3.3L/100km

SPARE: Repair kit

LUGGAGE: 810 litres

VERDICT

Three and a half stars

Doesn’t quite deliver the best of both worlds but this lavishly appointed SUV flagship has pace and grace.

SOURCE: NEWS.COM

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