New Volkswagen Touareg R revealed for Australia

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Volkswagen has previously shunned this type of vehicle, but a turnaround in conditions has it available for the first time.

Volkswagen’s new flagship Touareg R SUV is unlike any vehicle the company has sold in Australia before.

The German brand is ditching V8 diesel power from the top of its Touareg range for a more environmentally friendly plug-in hybrid set-up due to arrive next year.

This is the first time the brand has offered a plug-in hybrid in Australia, technology VW has previously said was not compatible with our low quality fuel.

Don’t let the hybrid set-up fool you, the new Touareg packs a powerful punch worthy of its R badging.

A combination of a burly 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine making 250kW/450Nm and a 100kW/400Nm electric motor delivers total outputs of 340kW and 700Nm. It drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

This isn’t quite as beefy as the 310kW/900Nm outputs from the 4.0-litre V8 turbo diesel unit in the now discontinued Touareg R-Line.

The Touareg R is capable of going from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and can travel up to 47km on pure electric power. Top speed is limited to 135km/h in electric-only mode.

The electric motor is fed by a 14.3kWh lithium-ion battery and can be charged by the petrol engine or via a household powerpoint or higher capacity wallbox. A full charge can be done in two and a half hours.

VW hasn’t revealed fuel use, but the same vehicle in the UK is quoted as sipping just 2.5L/100km.

Despite ditching the diesel engine, the top-spec Touareg can tow an impressive 3500kg, which is the same as most dual-cab utes.

Volkswagen hasn’t revealed local pricing yet, but plug-in hybrids usually command a large premium over internal combustion engine vehicles. The previous Touareg V8 flagship was priced just shy of $150,000 drive-away.

Specification hasn’t been revealed, but buyers can expect a high level of kit.

The former flagship Touareg was packed with equipment, including heated and cooled seats that massage you on long drives, a head-up display, clever matrix LED headlights that shield oncoming cars from your high-beams, a 12.3-inch digital dash and enormous 15-inch central display. Add to that premium hi-fi, mood lighting, four-zone climate control, a 360 degree camera and VW’s latest active safety tech.

Volkswagen has long complained about the poor quality of Australian petrol, which has high levels of sulphur, saying it has prevented the brand from bringing in more fuel-efficient and dynamic cars to Australia.

Earlier this year the federal government announced it would help fund upgrades to Australia’s remaining oil refineries to deliver higher quality petrol with lower levels of sulphur.

Ralph Beckmann, head of marketing at Volkswagen, said the Touareg R was not originally destined for Australia, but several market conditions had changed recently.

“The Touareg R was not destined for Australia because Volkswagen PHEVs and EVs are naturally prioritised for markets with emissions targets,” said Mr Beckmann.

“The Aussie appetite for the biggest and best Volkswagens combined with the overdue recognition on the part of government that Australians deserve the best quality petrol, and the progressive policies of NSW, all helped make the business case.”

Volkswagen Australia said that the arrival of the hybrid Touareg doesn’t mean they will be bringing in its cheaper environmentally friendly vehicles.

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