2021 Volkswagen Touareg R coming with PHEV power

VW’s sales and marketing chief has confirmed the brand’s flagship SUV will be the first R-badged model to get a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Volkswagen is working on an even hotter version of its Touareg luxury SUV, with the company’s marketing boss confirming it will feature a plug-in hybrid system.

Speaking with media at the global reveal of the eighth-generation Golf hatchback, Jürgen Stackmann said the Touareg will be “the first R model to go plug-in hybrid” – as reported by the UK’s Autocar.

In that one statement, Stackmann confirmed both a Touareg R and the style of powertrain.

“We start with that journey, and the task is out there for Joss Capito and his team to deliver us an electric future for R,” Stackmann continued.

“Then that’s the journey for R. For the next five years as we are launching some Rs next year we will couple these cars with a very strong message for low emissions.”

It’s unknown what exactly will power the Touareg are just yet, but we reckon there are clues elsewhere in the Volkswagen stable.

Currently, the only plug-in version of the Touareg is sold in China (soon Europe will get it too), powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine teamed with an electric motor and battery pack for combined outputs of 270kW and 700Nm.

While those figures are pretty decent, the V8 TDI produces a beefy 310kW and 900Nm from its 4.0-litre V8 turbo-diesel, good for a 4.9-second dash from 0-100km/h.

One option for a performance plug-in hybrid could be the high-output V6 PHEV drivetrain from the recently-revealed Audi Q7 60 TFSI e, which outputs a combined 330kW and 700Nm from its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 and electric running gear.

The current Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid (which also shares its MLB underpinnings with the Touareg) offers 340kW and 700Nm from the same drivetrain, and claims to hit triple figures in 5.0 seconds flat. With its 14.1kWh battery pack, Porsche reckons the Cayenne e-Hybrid can travel 44km in EV mode.

We reckon a Touareg R with a slight power/torque boost could easily match, if not beat the 4.9-second 0-100 claim of the V8 TDI, while improvements to the battery system should boost the EV driving range.

It’s believed the R-badged Touareg will debut sometime next year ahead of a 2021 global launch.

The Touareg hasn’t been offered with a proper R badge since the first-generation R50 back in the late 2000s, which got an uprated version of the 5.0-litre V10 turbo-diesel offered in the core range. Launched in 2008, the Touareg R50 was boosted to 258kW and 850Nm, and claimed to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds.

Beyond the plans for the company’s flagship SUV, Stackmann told Autocar the wider electrification of the R performance brand will be a little further down the track.

“For the immediate future I think we will still see Rs in the conventional form, so that they will be true to what R is today but obviously we need to worry about it as our emissions need to come down in 2020, R needs to go on the way.”

Stackmann’s comments indicate the next-generation Golf R should continue with petrol power, likely an uprated version of the current car’s 2.0-litre turbo four, though future models will eventually introduce electrification in some form.

In addition to plug-in hybrid technology, Volkswagen is already rolling out 48V mild-hybrid systems across its line-up – including the new Golf with its ‘eTSI’ engine range – along with pure-electric models in the form of the upcoming ID. EV family.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest.

Would you buy Touareg R plug-in hybrid? Let us know in the comments!

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