After a long hiatus, Volkswagen’s hallowed R badge has returned to the rear end of a Touareg, with the debut of the 2020 Touareg R.

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Whereas the original R50 of 2007-10 was powered by a 5.0-litre twin-turbocharged V10 diesel engine, the modern Touareg R is a sign of the times, seeking power from a plug-in hybrid setup.

The first R model with an electrified powertrain, the hot SUV combines a 250kW 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine with a 100kW electric motor and 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery for combined system outputs of 340kW of power and 700Nm of torque.

Drive is sent to the road through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

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Trainspotters will notice that the Touareg R uses the same V6 hybrid powertrain as the latest Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, Audi Q7 60 TFSI e and Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, all of which use the same MLB Evo underpinnings.

No acceleration figures have been quoted, though if the related Cayenne is anything to go by a 5.0-second 0-100km/h sprint time would be a reasonable bet. Volkswagen claims a 250km/h top speed.

Place it into E-Mode and the Touareg will be able to do 48 kilometres on electric power alone, at speeds of up to 140km/h. A range of other drive modes are on offer for different uses, from Hybrid – which aims for maximum efficiency between the two power sources – to another mode which uses the V6 to maintain a desired level of battery charge.

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Managing the power split between the axles is a Torsen centre locking differential, which can apportion up to 70 per cent of the power to the front or 80 per cent to the rear.

Styling upgrades over the R-Line are relatively subtle, consisting of blacked-out trim pieces, darkened tail-lights, unique R badging and dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Optional upgrades include black 22-inch Estoril alloy wheels (up from 20-inch as standard), while the Lapiz Blue hue pictured is unique to the R.

Inside, the regular Touareg’s high-tech Innovision Cockpit is joined by R-specific touches including an R-badged steering wheel, and an optional ‘Puglia’ leather package with sports seats “tanned sustainably using olive oil” that feature contrasting blue piping and R logos.

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The Touareg R is the first Volkswagen to feature advanced adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist systems which work at speeds of up to 250km/h – outdoing the new Golf hatch’s 210km/h claim.

The 2020 Volkswagen Touareg R is set to make its public debut at the Geneva motor show next week, ahead of an on-sale debut in Europe later this year. A launch Down Under is off the cards, with VW prioritising markets with cleaner, CO2-related regulations such as Europe over Australia and its legacy emissions laws.

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