It’s one of those models that lurks away in the background, and you don’t realise just how many there are driving about until you actually take notice. The Touareg feels like a dark horse in the large SUV segment.

When we went to the launch of this model in February, we were impressed by the diesel models that sound so good, they might be mistaken for a petrol engine. We also drove the petrol-engined R PHEV model and found that excellent – but it was only a few hours of driving. 

I do wonder about cars like the Touareg R PHEV. Do buyers who are spending $160,000 on an SUV really care about fuel economy? Or perhaps they are mainly after the increase in power over the diesel version, to 340kW (that’s 455 horsepower, by the way).

Regardless, we spent just over a week and over 1,000 behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s latest flagship, and came away impressed. 

What We Like and Dislike About The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Engine sound
Management of road, tyre, wind noise
Comfort levels
Infotainment system
Stying – especially in Lapiz Blue
Ride quality
Adaptive regen
Adaptive cruise control operation
Adaptive headlights performance
Dual sun visors
Haptic steering wheel controls
Bluetooth issues on our test car
No heated exterior mirrors

What’s In The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV Range?

As per our launch article, New Zealand sees three models of Touareg:

  • V6 TDI – $111,990
  • V6S TDI R-Line $141,990
  • R PHEV – $159,900

TDI models are powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The base model has a power output of 170kW and torque is listed at 500Nm. The R-Line pumps up power to 210kW and torque to 600Nm. Fuel consumption for both these models is listed at 7.9L/100km.

The R PHEV switches to a petrol V6 turbo motor with hybrid assist. It has a combined petrol/hybrid power output of 340kW and torque is rated at 700Nm. This car is also fitted with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and fuel economy is suggested at 1.9L/100km. The hybrid system in this model has a 17.9kWh drive battery and can drive up to a maximum of 53km on a single charge.

All Touaregs sold new in New Zealand are all-wheel drive.

2024 Volkswagen Touareg Colour Range

  • Chilli Red Metallic – add $500
  • Dolomite Silver Metallic – add $500
  • Grenadilla Black Metallic – add $500
  • Lapiz Blue Metallic – add $500 (R PHEV only)
  • Meloe Blue Crystal – add $500 (not available on R PHEV)
  • Oryx White Pearlescent – add $2,500 (R-Line and R PHEV only)
  • Pure White – no cost
  • Silizium Grey Metallic – add $500
  • Matte Silizium Grey Metallic – add $5,000 (includes Black Estoril Wheel option)

Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment

Lapiz Blue Metallic paint

Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $160,490.

For a full list of specs and options available for the Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV head on over to Volkswagen New Zealand’s website.

How Does The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV Compare To Its Competition?

Mercedes-Benz only makes the GLC in a plug-in hybrid, and that’s a lot smaller than the Touareg, so I left it off the list.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowing
Audi Q7 60 TFSIe quattro S Line3.0-litre, V6 turbo-petrol with hybrid340/70052.1750/3,500650$167,990
Volkswagren Touareg R PHEV3.0-litre, V6 turbo-petrol with hybrid340/70051.9750/3,500655$159,990
Vovlo XC90 Ultimate2.0-litre, 4-cylinder supercharged petrol-hybrid335/70971.5750/2,400640$154,990

Please note that DriveLife does its best to ensure the information above is correct at the time of publication, however, prices, specifications and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing models in the comparison table.

First Impressions Of The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV

Volkswagen has chosen Lapiz Blue as the hero colour for the new Touareg and you can see why – the car looks stunning in this colour. While the whole design is not a huge departure from the previous generation, in Lapiz Blue this car pops, as evidenced by the number of people who ended up staring as I drove past. Those blue-painted brake calipers help set the Lapiz Blue off.

Around the rear of the car, you’ll find two very welcome features; an actual rear window wiper (something that is becoming an endangered species) and real exhaust tips. Unlike Audi and too many others, the exhausts actually come through the tips, so there is nothing fake here. Thank you, Volkswagen!

At the rear of the car is that illuminated ‘VW’ badge on the tailgate; it’s lit up in red when the lights are on, and looks superb. It’s a small feature and bordering on a gimmick, but I love it.

If we were judging the car on its ability to make the owner look back at it after parking, the 2024 Touareg gets major points.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV?

The 2024 Touareg feels big on the outside and it’s the same on the inside. It’s a spacious interior, with loads of room for all passengers. Rear-seat passengers are well taken care of with shoulder, leg and headroom in abundance. In the front there’s plenty of room too, and that wide centre console only adds to that impression.

That console has piano black finish to it, and this is also on the door, dash and steering wheel. Piano black feels classy but man it shows up fingerprints so easily. You’ll find blue contrasting stitching around the cabin on the doors, dash, console and steering wheel. Overall, the interior is a thing of class. The pleated seats and door cards, blue stitching and tilt/slide panoramic sunroof with electric blind all scream luxury. Your passengers will come away impressed if that’s what you are going for.

If they aren’t impressed by the look of the interior, you can show them the front seats. Both of the front seats are electric, are heated and cooled, and also have 3 memory settings, electric cushion-length adjustment, 4-way electric lumbar adjust, and are massaging. I hate to think what a single front seat weighs in at, but they are full of gadgetry. Your massaging options include  Waves, Lumbar, Circles, Upstroke, Tapping, Relax, and Vital. You can also adjust the intensity of the massaging option you have chosen. Impressed yet?

As well as a good-sized glovebox, there’s a felt-lined cubby of a nice size to the right-hand side of the steering wheel and a shallow cubby at the rear of the centre console, that’s also felt-lined and has 2 USB-C ports inside. There are two more USB-C ports at the front of the console, along with a 12-volt socket for your dashcam. The front of the centre console also has a Qi wireless charging pad that’s well-placed to stop your phone from flying about while it’s on charge. Those in the rear seat also get two USB-C ports as well as their own aircon controls.

The luxury continues with soft-touch materials nearly everywhere you can put your fingers, and admittedly the illuminated cup holders get me going. I know, I know – they are over the top, right? But I like them and justify that by telling myself that when I’m driving with a coffee at night, I can see exactly where to return my cup. It’s a Health and Safety thing, obviously.

On the downside of the interior is the black; everything is black. Yes, you have that blue stitching and the pano sunroof but it’s not enough to take away that feeling of, well, blackness. It can feel a little overpowering.

The techy side of the interior includes ambient lighting; nothing unusual in that, many of the cars we test have ambient lighting, but the Touareg R PHEV takes it further with two illuminated strips running around the cabin, and yes – you can pick what colour you want each to be. Again, geeky, but kind of cool too.

Having air suspension means that the Touareg R PHEV owner gets two buttons in the boot; one to lower the car for loading and one to raise the car. This feature is surprisingly handy, and I used them more than I thought I would even over a week of use. 

The boot is excellent in size at 655 litres and is a usable shape to boot. Under the floor you’ll find a pump, tyre repair kit and a bass speaker for the audio system.

What’s The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV Like To Drive?

One of the main things I loved about driving the 2024 Touareg R PHEV was the adaptive brake regeneration (regen). We’ve seen this feature before; it started with the BMW iX and many hybrids and EVs we test have adaptive regen. But, just what is it? While you can select different levels in regen in the R PHEV, one of those options is Adaptive.

That means while driving, as you approach a car and take your foot off the accelerator, the Touareg will decide how much regen to apply to stop you from hitting that vehicle in front. So instead of applying a set amount of regen and then perhaps having to hit the accelerator again or use the brake pedal to slow more, adaptive regen will use the right amount needed for any given situation like that car slowing in front of you. It quickly becomes second nature to use, as it seems so simple and logical your brain adapts rapidly to using adaptive regen. Once I turned this feature on in the R PHEV, I didn’t even bother using the other regen modes.

Some people ask why motoring journalists go on so much about brake regeneration when you can just put your foot on the brake pedal and get some regen (free power) into the battery anyway. When you hit that brake pedal you are applying the brakes and so are losing some of that regen to braking. Free battery charging is the way to go and that is what brake regen is all about.

Enough of that. What’s the rest of the Touareg R PHEV like? In a word, brilliant. Other than one aspect of the car, I either enjoyed or thoroughly enjoyed every minute of driving this large SUV. Yes, it felt a bit tank-like at first; Wellington’s narrow roads are not Touareg-friendly. But it didn’t take long for me to adapt to its size and punt it around the city and suburbs like any other car.

We covered over 1,000km behind the wheel of the Touareg R PHEV, with DriveLife motoring journalist Pete Whiting also spending a weekend with the car – you can read his thoughts further on. That distance we covered means we got to know the Touareg and any things that would drive us crazy, or love.

Let’s get the main drove-us-crazy thing out of the road. Haptic steering wheel controls (sigh). While the Touareg has an excellent adaptive cruise control setup, trying to adjust anything with the haptic steering wheel controls is an exercise in frustration. I lost count of the times I was trying to adjust my speed up or down (this was using adaptive cruise control or the speed limiter) and the speed would go up 1km/h, then one more km/h, and then 10km/h. I just wanted to easily adjust my speed up or down a km at a time but those haptic controls make it almost impossible. Time and again I’d be tapping or sliding those controls and my speed would go up ten km/h, then down ten km/h, instead of the 1km/h I was trying to achieve. Up ten, down ten, up ten, down ten. Argh! At times, I gave up. 

There are other controls on the steering wheel for audio, phone etc, and they are just as frustrating to use. Please, Volkswagen, get rid of this steering wheel control system and give us simple buttons – they just work. The steering wheel itself feels fantastic in your hands and has a flat bottom to it for that sporty touch. It’s just the right size for this car.

Regardless of the steering wheel controls, the adaptive cruise control on the R PHEV is excellent. It’s one of the smoothest I’ve encountered and is a true set-and-forget system. You also have the option of using Volkswagen’s ‘Travel Assist’ function, where the R PHEV will assist in steering the car. Weirdly, you have to select this every time you use adaptive cruise control. The Travel Assist system was almost faultless for me, with very few times when it did not follow the lanes correctly. 

Nearly everything else about driving this wagon is awesome. That petrol engine sounds fantastic when you wind it out, although the glorious engine sound is quite muffled by all the soundproofing. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent, and the tyres are only noisy on coarse-chip seal. It’s an effortless place to travel inside, insulated from the outside world. 

Incredibly, the ride quality is excellent even if the car rides on huge 22” rims and has super-low profile 285/35 tyres. It should not ride this well, but that’s where the standard (on the R-Line and R PHEV models) air suspension comes into its own; that suspension setup is brilliant, offering that great ride.

You get a large option of drive modes to choose from: Eco, Normal, Comfort, Sport, Individual, Offroad, and Snow. I would often switch it to Eco, just because there is so much grunt at hand you can cruise everywhere in Eco mode and still have power to spare. Drive modes are adjusted by a physical alloy knob on the right side of the console, and it feels awesome to hold. One of those tactile things that you know has been done simply because it feels better. Since you are operating the Drive modes via a physical knob, that meant that if you left the car in Eco (or whatever) mode, it would stay there the next time you started the Touareg up. I love this – we see it far too rarely, as most cars using a soft control for drive modes and generally will revert to Normal mode, or whatever generally standard mode that car uses.

If you switch to Individual drive mode you’ll be able to adjust the AC settings, lights, adaptive cruise, steering, and chassis behaviour. 

On the other side of the console is another alloy knob for adjusting the car’s height, using the air suspension. The car defaults to “Road” height, but you can slip the knob left to lower it for Loading height, or to the right for Offroad and one more click for Offroad+. 

Driving the Touareg R PHEV as an EV is pretty easy, if you are concerned about driving a plug-in hybrid. You simply get in and drive. If you want to, you can adjust some EV settings via that drive mode knob. Touch the centre of the knob and the drive modes screen will pop up on the centre display. This will allow you to switch between EV-only or hybrid modes. You can also set the maximum amount of battery charge you want to get the drive battery to, from this screen. I tried to charge the car as much as I could, and saw between 41 and 50km range showing on a charge, depending on how I had driven the car before plugging it in. 

I love the method Volkswagen has decided to use for EV or petrol-engine driving; The accelerator pedal has a fairly hard stop halfway down. Go past this stop with your right foot and the petrol engine starts. Like adaptive regen, it becomes second nature for your brain to work out that if you want to move quickly, push your foot past that harder section of the accelerator. There’s also an indication on the dashboard dial; electric power is shown on the left, push your foot down harder and it will go from only EV power to RPM for the petrol engine. It’s simple and effective. 

Switching the R PHEV into Sport mode will get this 2,435Kg beast moving along, getting to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds, with that superb soundtrack to go along with it. It’s not fake noise either; put your window down and take in the sound of that turbocharged petrol V6. And it’s not just the engine that makes real sounds. At the rear of the car are some exhaust tips and they are functional, for a change. It feels sad to point this out, but happily the Touareg R PHEV has exhaust pipes that exit through real exhaust tips. 

Accelerating hard in Sport mode will give you a real punch in the back, so be prepared to be surprised, or even better surprise your passengers. Even with that amount of weight to haul off from a stop, 340kW gets this car off the mark quickly.

With wide, low-profile tyres and all-wheel drive, this tall SUV is better than expected on a windy road, but push it a little too far and physics will take its toll; on the whole, the R PHEV does extremely well on your favourite road. If you get a little carried away, those massive brakes will do an easy job of hauling your speed down. They feel a little wooden at times, but the braking power is there in abundance.

There are some nice features on the Touareg that endear it to being a daily driver, including the dual sun visor system. Say you are going along a windy road and have sun coming through the driver’s window and then that sun switching to coming in the windscreen as you go around bends – this happens on my morning commute on the motorway. The Touareg has two sets of sun visors on each side of the car, so you can leave the main one out to the side, and then pop the front one down and leave it there. It’s a brilliant safety feature and I’m hoping we see this appear on more brands of cars. Porsche does something similar, so let’s hope this filters down to the lower end of the market.

Another bonus for commuting is that the car remembers you had the heated steering wheel on the last time you used it and so puts it on again. Nice! Weirdly, it doesn’t remember that you had the heated seats on, though. I did test out the ventilated seats and found them to be quite weak, even on the highest setting. Visibility is generally very good for your daily drive, although the C and D pillars are pretty chunky. One visibility issue is that even at $160,000, the R PHEV does not have heated mirrors. This meant very careful reversing out of my driveway in the mornings, relying on the camera system to guide me. A very surprising omission on a car at this price level.

The Touareg has that simple feature that I love to see in a PHEV; It has arrows by both the fuel gauge and battery gauge, showing you which side of the car the filler is on. With my memory, I had to check this every time to remind myself how to park the car to fill it with whatever juice it needed. 

The R PPHEV model of Touareg has a heads-up display (HUD), and it’s excellent – as most of them are. Someone before me had already switched it to ‘Snow Mode’, so the digital speed readout on the HUD was in blue, making it easier to read in all conditions. Using the car’s built-in SatNav will get all your directions showing up in the HUD, which is brilliant. All cars with a HUD should do this, but you’d be surprised how many do not. It makes for much easier navigating when you have your directions right there, projected onto the windscreen. You’ll also get those directions on the dashboard and the centre infotainment screen. 

The infotainment system in this car is excellent, with quick response and ease of use that’s hard to bear. It’s capacitive touch, so as your finger approaches the screens, buttons will appear, ready to be tapped. The screen itself is huge at 15” and that size makes for great use of the car’s 360-degree cameras. 

The audio system in our test car was above average, although it would frequently drop its Bluetooth connection from my phone, pretty much every drive, every few minutes. My wife had the same issue when we connected her phone to the car, but this could have been only an issue with our test car. While you can adjust audio volume from the haptic steering wheel controls, you probably don’t want to, but happily, there is a physical volume knob on the centre console. 

With it being winter, that means it’s dark at 3 pm – or at least, that’s how it feels some days. The R PHEV has adaptive LED headlights and I found them to be stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever found a car with adaptive headlights that we bad, but the ones in the Touareg R PHEV are outstanding, with a huge spread of light, penetrating deep into the darkness. 

It’s a bit of a mixed bag for fuel and energy economy in the R PHEV; while Volkswagen suggests the car should return 1.9 L/100km, we managed 5.9 L/100Km – quite a way from their figure, and I did charge the car as much as I could. They also say as far as electric energy goes, the R PHEV should get 23.2 kWh/100km, and our figure was 15.4 kWh/100km. That’s an excellent number for such a heavy car.


I found the Touareg R PHEV to be beautifully made and surprisingly for its size, it doesn’t feel big on the road. The R PHEV model, with its 22-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, is sharp to drive but far more comfortable than you would expect possible with those large wheels.

On Mother’s Day, I used the car to take my 87-year-old mother over the Remutaka Hill to see my brother, near Greytown. The Touareg is made for such journeys, with very comfortable seats, great visibility and lots of space. The handling was so good I was able to keep up a relatively quick pace over the hill without my passenger breaking her conversation. Nearing the top there is an especially steep portion called ‘Muldoon’s Cutting’ and I’d made myself a mental note to test acceleration up this part. The drive was so effortless I hadn’t even noticed we were past the cutting and onto the descent down the Wairarapa side.

It is a very feature-laden car but in a classically well-considered way that they are easily accessible. A couple of gems are the massaging seats and smart cruise control. The massage function in the seats can be moderated in their intensity and would be awesome for those longer drives.

The other feature is the intelligent use of the adaptive cruise functionality to simply keep you a safe distance from the car in front, meaning adaptive regeneration. When driving down the hill road, this system automatically slows the car relative to the car in front – like when using adaptive cruise, but without having to have selected a speed limit. This means you can drive on the accelerator and the car will keep you a safe distance off the car in front – great for when following traffic down the Remutaka Hill Road.

In summary, it is a well-sorted and featured family car that is comfortable, with good interior space for passengers and luggage. For an SUV it is not only comfortable but is also a good drive, easily capable of maintaining its composure during more spirited driving. A good allrounder.

2024 Volkswagen Touareg R PHEV – Specifications

Vehicle TypeLarge hybrid AWD SUV
Starting Price$159,990
Price as Tested$160,490
EngineV6 turbocharged petrol with hybrid assist
Power, Torque
340 (combined)
700 (combined)
Transmission8-speed automatic
Spare WheelPump and repair kit
Kerb Weight, Kg2,435
Length x Width x Height
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
76 litres (95 minimum octane fuel)
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 1.9
Real-World Test – Combined – 5.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Energy Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 23.2
Real-World Test – Combined – 15.4
Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 years or 150,000km
5 years Roadside Assistance
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link – 5 Stars – QHS572

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
2024-volkswagen-touareg-r-phev-hybrid-car-reviewI expect you can tell we enjoyed our time with the 2024 Volkswagen R PHEV; it does so many things right. That claim could be backed up with “well it should at $160,000”, however the car is still brilliant on so many fronts, regardless of its cost. <br><br> But at almost $20K over the TDI R-Line, it might be hard for some buyers to justify that extra cost to save a couple of litres per 100km. And that’s not even taking into account just how good the TDI version of the Touareg is - it even sounds like a petrol V6.  <br><br> For me, the haptic steering wheel controls are the deal-breaker. I cannot wait for them to head into history and become something we laugh about in a few years.  <br><br> That’s a real shame, as the Touareg R PHEV ticks so many boxes for me. The design, driving, performance, brakes, comfort and features - it’s a brilliant large SUV and I expect Volkswagen will be and should be proud of its latest flagship model.


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