Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
WELCOME TO HYUNDAI’S HAPPINESS MACHINE
View the latest news
Advertisement

Driving

What is it like to drive?

Now, until very recently the letter R was synonymous with ‘fast 4WD Golf’, the Mk7 iteration becoming a lease-deal hero and a high watermark for hot hatchbacks with two driven axles. Recent months have seen the badge popped on many more cars, though – the T-Roc and Tiguan SUVs, Arteon saloon and estate, and now this hybrid Touareg.

Quite what you expect from the badge will dictate how satisfied you’ll be with the driving experience here. If you seek the all-weather, effort-free pace a Golf R undoubtedly offers, that’s here. By the bucketload. VW claims 0-62mph in 5.1secs but with both power sources giving their all, the way its 2.5 tonnes propels down the road feels a whole heap quicker. It’s a brisk thing, and its weight is managed well through corners, too. There's abundant grip and understeer only reveals itself if your attention drops.

Advertisement - Page continues below

It’s just the Golf’s dynamic depth and bonus engagement have gone AWOL. The Touareg is simply too big to feel as lithe as you might hope, and it never shrinks around you nor shrugs off its weight like the best fast SUVs – Cayenne Turbos, F-Pace SVRs, Stelvio Quadrifoglios – do with apparent ease. Adding four-wheel steering or active anti-roll tech might make it feel a bit more agile (even a stock Cayenne feels a bit dumb without them), but ultimately this feels like a car whose comfort zone is literally that – comfort.

At which it excels. The air suspension ensures stonking 22in alloys aren’t an issue, save for the noise they knock out to erode the silence of the powertrain in electric mode. That’s how the car defaults on start up, but while VW claims an 87mph top speed in EV mode, you’ll be setting no acceleration records getting there if you aren’t to kick the V6 into life. In reality the engine slinks into the background when you’re cruising on the motorway on light throttle, before briskly jumping back to the forefront when you hit an incline or need to get past someone.

It’s a decent hybrid set-up, it’s just not a bespoke performance one. It’s quick – effortlessly so – but whereas the Golf R’s engine is shared with cars wearing S3 or Cupra badges, the Touareg R shares its with cars simply wearing a ‘hybrid’ badge with little pomp or ceremony.

In a Bentayga, Cayenne or Q7, a hybrid is among the more sensible options, whereas here it’s the top rung of performance. An interesting blend of speed, efficiency and comfort this Touareg may be, it’s also a very visual demonstration of how ‘brand hierarchy’ works in the VW group.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

subscribe