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Home / Reviews / Cars & bikes / Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid review: High-performance PHEV fun

Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid review: High-performance PHEV fun

Be sure to plug it in to get the best from this PHEV edition of VW’s premium grade heavy hauler

VW Touareg R e-hybrid lead

Stuff Verdict

It’s a big and bulky SUV, so expect comfort and plenty of space but even if you use it as intended the Touareg’s performance credentials feel a little bit uninspiring.


  • Luxuious, laid-back motoring
  • Ample straight line PHEV performance
  • Plenty of interior tech toys


  • Engine note not especially sweet
  • Poor fuel economy once battery is flat
  • As expensive as VW-badged cars get?


The Volkswagen Touareg R 3.0 TSI eHybrid is mouthful of a name, but a monster of a machine. The example I’ve been driving for the past week or so is not only sizeable in stature, but hides a 3.0-litre PHEV powertrain under the bonnet. That means it’s quite the handful, and even more if you’re planning on throwing it around to any degree.

Now in its fourth generation, there’s now doubting the vanilla Touareg’s appeal. The latest model is more comfortable than ever, with enough tech to rival premium rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE or BMW X5. You pay for the privilege, with even the base model starting at £68,950. The R seen here? That’ll be a whopping £81,895, please and thank you.

But while the ‘R’ line’s emphasis on performance definitely works for the Golf hatchback, and even the T-Roc crossover, is that treatment really needed for a big SUV like this?

The styling

On first glance, it’s the front end where the Touareg R’s styling tweaks are most apparent. A neat signature light bar runs across the length of the grille, while larger black air intakes give the SUV and even more imposing look than before. The impressive 38,432 micro LEDs inside the headlights work impressively well, flooding the road ahead with copious amounts of light. These flourishes also help to make the car look wider and lower on the road, which is a clever trick seeing as in reality it’s quite high off it.

The same illusion works to great effect from the back, with a revised light bar stretching across the tailgate. It works brilliantly during grey winter days and at night. An illuminated VW logo badge then gives a touch of extra zing.

Overall the exterior changes seem relatively low-key, but it’s the interior where the Touareg never fails to impress and the ‘R’ is no exception. There’s a nice attention to detail, with R logos stitched on the door panels and seats. The layout feels well thought out, which is hardly surprising seeing as the Touareg has been around for a few decades now. This latest incarnation is wonderfully comfortable, both in the front and the back. Needless to say, boot space is sizeable too. It’s everything you’d expect, put it that way.

The drive

One of the first things I found with the Touareg R is that the dashboard dials made it hard to ignore the fuel economy, which wasn’t great. On a motorway run of 100 miles or so, I was averaging 27mpg while taking it easy. Shorter runs to the gym saw it dip to 17mpg. I like to think I’m not particularly lead-footed, so those are disappointing numbers even for a big, heavy SUV.

That’s where the PHEV aspect tends to make more sense. If you make time to plug in at home, the big old bus can manage up to 30 miles on a charge. Done a couple of times a week, the plug-in routine is a real saving grace, and it’s still surprisingly sprightly when the 136bhp electric motor is doing all the work.

Having a big engine at your disposal is tempting when it sounds good, but for the most part the Touareg R rumbles along in rather less impressive fashion. I won’t grumble about the overall performance, though. The big SUV works well on all kinds of roads and surfaces. There’s a drive mode to suit any kind of scenario, from Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport at the more everyday end of the spectrum through to Offroad and Snow. Alternatively, you can configure an Individual mode to suit specific needs. It’s also worth dabbling with its off-road settings, a selection of which are available from a circular dial on the centre console.

The Touareg R eHybrid is a proper treat on longer motorway runs, where it can muscle past pretty much anything when it needs to. Take it easy and you can munch through a long trek without feeling any detrimental effects. Anyone planning on towing with it (and there’ll be many) will find the Touareg R ideally suited to the job, with plenty of low-end torque.

The technology

The Touareg R comes with all the tech kit you could ask for, but much of it requires a little time to become fully acquainted. The all-new Innovision Cockpit is dominated by a centrally-mounted 15in touchscreen, augmented by a smaller screen and a brace of digital dials in front of the steering wheel.

Remembering that this is a big and bulky SUV, you might find (as I did) that the Park Assist Pro system is beneficial, especially in less than well-lit conditions that we get at the tail-end of the year. This can be done both when you’re in the car and when you’re out of it too, via the app. For anyone prepared to take the leap of faith and try, it’s reassuringly impressive.

Another bonus, if you’re from the towing fraternity, is the Trailer Assist mode. This really does help if you’re a novice at getting a trailer or horsebox parked. Again, it’ll do much of the hard work for you and can handle all of the calculations needed in terms of turning the steering wheel in the right direction, which isn’t as easy you’d think when you’re doing it in real life.

Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid verdict

VW Touareg R e-hybrid tracking front

There’s much to be said about owning a PHEV if you’re doing lots of shorter local journeys, with the school run being a prime example. If you’re disciplined enough to charge it, or can plug in when you get home, the value of the almost 30 miles of all-electric range is easy to see. If, on the other hand, you can’t be bothered then the Touareg R could turn out to be expensive to run.

On the upside though, this is definitely the best version to date and the additional ‘R’ features and functions give the big and bulky VW a boost. You get space, comfort and some very cool controls that help to make life easier, especially if you like to tow around things like caravans and horseboxes. If used as it should be the Volkswagen Touareg R 3.0 TSI eHybrid makes total sense. If it’s not though, this is bit of a pricey indulgence.

Stuff Says…

Score: 3/5

It’s a big and bulky SUV, so expect comfort and plenty of space but even if you use it as intended the Touareg’s performance credentials feel a little bit uninspiring.

Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid technical specifications

Powertrain3.0-litre petrol w/ electric motor
Power456bhp (combined)
Top speed155mph
Electric range30 miles
Charge rateMaximum charge rate 7.2kWh
Cargo volume665 litres
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Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv