Volkswagen’s new high-performance plug-in hybrid Touareg R has gone on sale with prices starting at just under £72,000. With a 3-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor – both of which are shared with the Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne – the 456 bhp 4x4 is the most powerful mass-produced Volkswagen R model ever made.

That power allows the huge SUV to rampage from a standstill to 62 mph in 5.1 seconds, before powering on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. That makes the Touareg R just slightly slower than the much smaller and lighter Golf R, which manages the 0-62 mph sprint in 4.7 seconds.

Despite that, the hybrid powertrain allows the car to travel up to 28 miles on electric power alone, with the ability to recharge the 14.3 kWh battery when it runs low. If you mostly do short journeys and recharge the battery regularly, allowing you to use the petrol engine sparingly, the official economy test suggests you can get 94.2 mpg. And CO2 emissions are rated at 62 g/km.

2021 VW Touareg R

But that isn’t all you get in exchange for the £72,995 Volkswagen is charging. Building on the Touareg Black Edition’s kit list, the R comes with leather-upholstered seats with blue stitching and piping, as well as a heated steering wheel and keyless entry. Air suspension is standard, too, along with a 360-degree manoeuvring camera and matrix LED headlights that can use GPS and steering inputs to adapt the lighting.

Further standard equipment includes a panoramic glass sunroof and interior ambient lighting with 30 colours to choose from. And there’s four-zone climate control, a 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster – just as you’ll find on the most luxurious Touareg variants.

The R model also gets some exterior styling features specific to Volkswagen’s sportiest models. The bumpers are more aggressive than other versions of the Touareg, while 22-inch alloy wheels and a glossy rear diffuser also set the R apart. R badges are also dotted around the bodywork, featuring on the grille, wings and tailgate.

“The Touareg is yet another example of Volkswagen’s multi-talented range of SUVs,” said Sarah Cox, the head of marketing at Volkswagen UK. “The model is practical, versatile, capable, comfortable and luxurious, and now it has a performance-oriented R variant that’s not only fast and fun to drive, but also capable of ultra-low emissions in everyday situations. In fact – as a latest-generation plug-in hybrid – its battery capacity allows enough electric-only range to cover the entire daily commute for many drivers.

“The Touareg R represents Volkswagen versatility at its finest – possessing numerous class-leading qualities, an incredible amount of standard equipment, and all the luxuries customers could wish for.”

Gallery: 2021 VW Touareg R