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First Drive

First Drive: Volkswagen Touareg R

The story: This is VW’s most powerful production model so far, and also the first electrified road-going model to wear its ‘R’ high-performance badge. It’s also a range-topping 462hp SUV
Category:Large SUV
Key rival:BMW X5 45e
On sale:Now

The Volkswagen Touareg R is something of a contradiction. On the face of it, the big VW SUV is a high-performance model most unsuitable to a fleet application. But on the flip-side, it’s also a plug-in hybrid with the capability to run for up to 28-miles on the battery alone, which helps to cut its BiK bills.

Its £408-per-month BiK is still higher than might be expected for a PHEV, and the problem lies in the 66g/km emissions figure – it’s well above the 50g/km mark that starts to drive down BiK payments. If emissions were sub-50g/km, the Touareg R would be subject to almost £100 less per month, even with an EV-only range that doesn’t get to 30 miles.

First drive - September 2021 - Volkswagen Touareg R - Image 1The BMW X5’s EV range of over 40 miles puts it in the 7% BiK band rather than the Touareg’s 17%, giving it a £163 per month payment, compared to the VW’s £408.

But away from the sensible maths, the Touareg starts to look more appealing. It’s as luxurious and well-appointed as a Volkswagen has ever been, and the 0-62mph acceleration time of just 5.1 seconds for a 2.4-tonne SUV is mighty.

Obviously that weight means it’s not an agile back-road blaster, but still handles with more poise than might be expected. It will run purely on electric at any legal UK speed, and unlike some PHEVs, the regeneration levels can be adjusted.

The R model gets a series of subtle styling changes, most notable of which is the 22-inch alloy wheels, although bespoke chunkier bumpers and black mirror caps, diffuser and window trims also mark out the high-performance model. But it’s not overt enough to draw significance attention.

paul barker



The verdict

Not quite as fleet-friendly as some other premium PHEV SUVs thanks to higher emission figure, but still a lot of performance for the BiK contribution.