The first plug-in hybrid Volkswagen to be sold in Australia has been confirmed for launch in 2022.
High-performance family buyers mourning the death of the Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI can cut the wake short, with a new R-rated plug-in hybrid version of the Touareg said to provide pace comparable to the outgoing bent-eight.
In a major coup, Volkswagen Australia have locked in the Touareg R for the local market in a recognition that in recent months, the electrification landscape in Australia has started to shift towards recognising the necessity of lower-carbon transport.
“The Touareg R was not destined for Australia because Volkswagen PHEVs and EVs are naturally prioritised for markets with emissions targets,” Volkswagen general manager of passenger vehicle marketing Ralph Beckmann said.
Beckmann attributed the change to “the overdue recognition on the part of government that Australians deserve the best quality petrol, and the progressive policies of NSW” – as well as Australia’s appetite for high-performance models.
The plug-in hybrid Touareg R is slated to be launch in Australia in late 2022, capping off “the year of R” for Volkswagen’s local representation.
At launch, the Touareg R will join the new Tiguan R midsize SUV, which is expected to arrive around March 2022 alongside the Mk 8 Golf R hatchback and Golf R wagon. The T-Roc R small SUV will arrive in the third quarter of 2022, shortly before the Touareg R is released.
Mr Beckmann cautioned against reading too much into the decision to bring the Touareg R to Australia.
“We can’t at this point say that the Touareg R indicates that more affordable Volkswagen hybrids are coming to Australia, especially during a period of production issues related to the global semi-conductor shortage.
“We can say that despite formidable obstacles, we’re doing all that can be done to secure for Australian customers the same choices enjoyed by those elsewhere in the world.”
Marketed as “its first vehicle capable of running on battery power”, the 2022 Volkswagen Touareg R couples a 250kW/450Nm three-litre turbo petrol V6 engine with a 14.3kWh battery and an electric motor producing 100kW/400Nm, with combined hybrid system output rated at 340kW/700Nm.
The combined figure is good enough to make the Touareg R more powerful than any other Volkswagen, including the recently-departed Touareg V8 TDI that produced 310kW. The diesel V8 made 900Nm of torque, though the hybrid Touareg R mirrors its 3,500kg towing capacity.
The instant torque from the electric motors mean the Touareg R is propelled from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds, about 1.5sec faster than the non-hybrid V6 Touareg and just 0.2sec behind the V8 TDI.
That kind of performance places the Touareg R provides a faster, sportier alternative to the BMW X5 xDrive40e, which also competes in the large SUV segment.
Capable of driving at up to 135km/h in electric mode, the Touareg R has an electric-only range of 47km (WLTP), though the 76 litre fuel tank should provide a combined range of close to 1,000km in realistic driving situations.
Labelling the Touareg R “a genuine self-charging hybrid”, Volkswagen says that the Touareg R can be charged while driving, using some of the petrol engine’s capacity as a generator.
However, the ideal use case will see owners recharge the Touareg’s battery overnight, renewing the near-fifty kilometre range in 2.5 hours with a 7.2kW (AC) wallbox, or around seven hours if plugged into a conventional three-pin power socket. No DC fast-charging capability is available.
Volkswagen says that more information will be released on the Australian specification of the Touareg R next month.
What we know about the Touareg R’s overseas specification is that it retains a traditional Torsen-style AWD system with a mechanical driveshaft between the front and rear axles, rather than the electric AWD seen on some plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Up to 80 per cent of the combined 700Nm of torque can be directed to the rear wheels, while up to 70 per cent can be distributed to the front axle.
The hybrid battery consumes some boot space, taking the overall capacity from 810L to 610L – and packaging the battery also necessitates the removal of the active anti-roll bars and rear wheel steering system seen on the V8 TDI.
Air suspension is standard-fit in overseas versions of the Touareg R and we expect that to be the case for Australia.
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