What could be more 2020 than a performance SUV boasting a hybrid powertrain? Adopting a similar template to the Range Rover Sport HST and Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid - but with a more sporting remit - the Volkswagen Touareg is billed as "the perfect blend of high performance and electric efficiency."
On the former point, the Touareg R boasts 462hp, thanks to the combination of a 340hp turbocharged V6 and 136hp electric motor - itself powered by a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery. Overall torque is rated at 516lb ft, so there's ample pulling power to deal with the 3.5-tonne towing capacity the R retains from the standard Touareg.
A familiar eight-speed auto and 4Motion permanent four-wheel drive combination manages that power to the road, with centre diff lock apportioning fore and aft; a maximum of 70 per cent of power can forwards, and 80 per cent to the back. In addition to the regular drive modes, the Touareg R also gets '4Motion Active Control', where the driver manages the powertrain. 'Hybrid' is designed for "optimised and automatic interaction" between the electric motor and the V6 engine", and E-Mode rather does what it says on the tin as well.
What's interesting is that the Touareg will default to electric running on start up (assuming there's enough charge in the battery), and operate as an EV at up to 140km/h - as well as tow that 3.5-tonne maximum. That said an electric range hasn't yet been confirmed - expect that at Geneva - with VW only stating that it will cover "typical commuter distances with zero emissions." With city centre bans on combustion engines becoming a more likely reality by the day, having even a nominal electric range - one that can be maintained in hybrid mode through navigation data and recuperation technology - looks like very useful technology.
As for what makes this Touareg an R and not just a fast flagship PHEV, you'll notice the familiar VW accoutrements: Lapiz Blue paint, a black pack, darkened light clusters, the mildest of mild bodykits and some new wheels. As standard the R will come with 20-inch 'Braga' rims, though it seems unlikely many will stay with standard wheels given 21-inch 'Suzuka' and 22-inch 'Estoril' items are also available. The press release issued today makes no mention of any suspension or brake changes, so expect details of those to follow from the show stand.
While the interior gets the familiar overhaul - new trims, logos, stitching - there is a noteworthy feature that drivers will enjoy when sitting in their sports seats optionally tanned sustainably using olive oil: the Travel Assist. For the very first time a VW is fitted (at extra cost) with an assisted driving feature that can monitor the car at up to 155mph. (Previously it was 210km/h, or 130mph). Therefore Touareg R drivers can use the lane keep and adaptive cruise to reach maximum speed with very little input.
That's it for the Touareg R for now, though expect plenty more soon - Jost Capito describes it as a vehicle of "unrivalled charisma", after all. And don't worry if this isn't your cup of tea - that new Golf GTI isn't far off, either. And GTD. And GTE...