Volkswagen 320hp Tiguan R, 300hp T-Roc R… or even the 462hp Touareg R should suffice – take your pick of high-performance SUVs

Volkswagen 320hp Tiguan R, 300hp T-Roc R… or even the 462hp Touareg R should suffice – take your pick of high-performance SUVs

If you have want to lug your family and friends across the country in style and at serious pace, then Volkswagen offer a number of options to do so. Either the 320hp Tiguan R, 300hp T-Roc R… or even the 462hp Touareg R should suffice – take your pick of high-performance SUVs from the Wolfsburg stable…

Words: Neil Birkitt



While a lot of attention is given to the Golf R in both four-door hatchback and estate forms, we mustn’t forget that the same powerplant and drivetrain is also available elsewhere in the Volkswagen model range. The Arteon super saloon (and “Shooting Brake” estate) and the Tiguan and T-Roc SUV models are also available with the same high-performance 2.0-litre TSI engine and four-wheel drivetrain. Undoubtedly, it’s the high-performance SUVs which are of most interest to Performance VW readers, especially when you consider that there’s also the Touareg R, which comes with a 3.0-litre V6 / electric hybrid drivetrain, with 462hp and 700Nm, making it the most powerful production Volkswagen yet!


Based on the same MQB platform as the Golf R the Tiguan follows the classic medium SUV configuration, a four-door hatchback, which has – to quote Volkswagen UK’s Managing Director – ‘long been regarded as Volkswagen’s ultimate all-rounder, possessing space, power, quality, flexibility and the security of 4MOTION four-wheel drive’. Even the standard models, with options for 1.5 and 2.0-litre TSI petrol or 2.0 TDI diesel powerplants, provide reasonable performance and good economy but the Tiguan R takes the performance and handling to an even higher level. It’s powered by the same EA888 evo4 four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine as the Golf R, producing 320hp (235 kW) and 420Nm (310lb/ft) of torque from 2100rpm. Featuring individual details such as integration of water-cooled exhaust gas routing to the turbocharger and a fully-electronic coolant regulator unit improving thermal management for a short warm-up phase, the resulting reduction in friction contributes to enhanced power output and reduced fuel consumption.

2023 Volkswagen 320hp Tiguan R

The TSI also has variable valve timing with dual camshaft control, with the valve lift switched in two stages on the exhaust side, providing optimum control of gas exchange with respect to performance, consumption and exhaust emissions, for compliance with the latest and strictest Euro 6d-ISC- FCM emission standard. Combined with a sophisticated 7-speed DQ500 automatic transmission and the Haldex-based 4MOTION four-wheel drive system the Tiguan R is capable of performance that would have been a credit to the supercars of yesteryear.

Designed to deal with particularly high torque outputs, the advantage of the DQ500 is that full power can be transmitted in first gear without a limiter, with the standard Launch Control feature making it possible to produce maximum acceleration from a standstill. Official performance figures are a 0 to 62 mph time of 4.9 seconds (just two-tenths of a second behind the Golf R, despite its greater weight) and a top speed that is electronically limited to 155mph.

With this sort of performance potential the Tiguan needs handling ability to match and the inherent traction advantage of the Haldex based four-wheel drive system is bolstered by the new R-Performance Torque Vectoring system. This not only manages torque transfer between the front and rear axles, but also between the two rear wheels. In extreme cases, up to 100 per cent of available torque can be directed to the rear wheel on the outside of a bend, eliminating understeer and producing very agile handling.

With a reinforced aluminium subframe and revised springs and dampers, tuned specifically for the model, the ride height of the Tiguan R is not only 10 mm lower than the standard model but it also features adaptive chassis control (DCC) as standard.

This provides individual settings ranging from a high level of ride comfort to optimum driving dynamics, as required. In total the Drive Select offers seven different driving profiles, comprising a choice of Comfort, Sport, Race, Individual, Offroad, Snow and Offroad Expert. Thanks to a new ‘R’ button on the steering wheel the DCC modes can be selected without the driver having to take their hands off the wheel.

In the Race mode, the coasting function (freewheeling without drive power) is deactivated, the exhaust note and the engine sound to the interior (created by the electronic sound generator) is increased, and the DSG, DCC, progressive steering and R-Performance Torque Vectoring are all adjusted to a more sporting set-up. For driving on the race track, the driver can deactivate the Electronic Stability Control separately, using the ESC button.

The standard-fit alloy wheels are 8.5x21” (ET 38) ‘Estoril’ rims, fitted with 255/35 R21 high-performance tyres, with the uprated braking system using 357 mm ventilated front discs, the callipers painted blue with an R-logo on the front units. Other special features of the Tiguan R are door mirror housings with a matt chrome fi nish and a unique body kit which incorporates sports front and rear bumpers, with a black rear diffuser which houses quad tailpipes.

The optional equipment list includes a high-performance Akrapovič titanium exhaust system.

Although Volkswagen doesn’t actually claim a power increase with this system, it is not only significantly lighter in weight than the standard set-up but it further improves the exhaust sound. Inside, like those of the Golf R, the Tiguan R’s sports seats are finished in a blue-black ‘Sardegna’ cloth with ArtVelours outer sections, and it comes with the bespoke heated R steering wheel, with extended paddle shifters to manually control the DSG auto gearbox.

The Tiguan R’s standard equipment list builds upon the already impressive R-Line trim and includes the aforementioned Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC) plus IQ.Light LED matrix headlights, Digital Cockpit Pro, Keyless entry and start, rear-view camera, 30-colour ambient lighting, heated steering wheel and heated front seats.

Travel Assist was introduced with the updated Tiguan, alongside the third generation modular infotainment system (MIB3) which brings wireless App-Connect to the Tiguan for the first time.

There is a now a digitised control unit for the air-conditioning system, with touch panels and sliders finished in high-gloss black to operate the climate functions.

With a maximum towing capacity of 2200kg, the Tiguan R is also available with an optional swivelling towbar, perfect for towing your race car to the tracks or your ‘trailer queen’ show car to events.


  • ENGINE: 1984cc 4-cylinder EA888 evo4 turbo TSI with direct petrol injection.
  • MAX POWER: 320hp (235kW)
  • MAX TORQUE: 420Nm (310lb/ft)
  • TRANSMISSION: Four-wheel drive, 7-speed DSG auto gearbox.


  • ACCELERATION: 0-62 mph in 4.9secs
  • TOP SPEED: 155mph (250kph)
  • COMBINED: 28.3mpg
  • COMBINED C02 emissions: 225g/km


  • LENGTH: 4514mm
  • WIDTH: 1859mm
  • HEIGHT: 1668mm
  • WHEELBASE: 2678mm
  • BOOT VOLUME (rear seats up): 615 litres
  • LOAD SPACE (rear seats folded fl at): 1755 litres
  • WEIGHT: 1746kg
  • UK LIST PRICE (RRP): from £46,430 on-the-road


If you prefer your high-performance SUV at a slightly smaller scale then the T-Roc R is the car for you. Introduced here in the UK in September 2019, it’s also powered by the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder direct-injection turbo EA888 engine, although in this application the engine produces slightly less power, rated at 300hp at 5000rpm with torque of 400Nm from 2000rpm.

2023 Volkswagen T-Roc R

It also has the smooth-shifting 7-speed DSG auto transmission, specially adapted for its specific engine mapping, with the power delivered via the Haldex-based 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. This distributes the torque between the front and the rear wheels within milliseconds, virtually eradicating wheelspin even in slippery conditions.

As with the other R models, the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can be manually deactivated, allowing the Launch Control feature to modulate the clutch and gearbox and allow full-bore acceleration from a standstill, resulting in a 0 to 62mph time of 4.9 seconds. Likewise, the top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. The T-Roc R also features a Race mode in its drive mode selection menu, which enhances the engine and gearbox response for dynamic driving.

In addition to an uprated braking system, using the larger discs previously offered on the Golf R as part of its optional Performance package, the T-Roc R rolls with a ride height that is reduced by 20mm providing a lower centre of gravity. Uprated damping compared with the standard model adds to the dynamic driving experience. Standard-fi t 8x19” (ET 47) ’Pretoria’ alloy wheels, shod with 225/40 R19 high-performance tyres, are finished in Dark graphite, complimenting the black-painted R-badged brake callipers.

Available as an option is the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system, with adaptive dampers which can be electronically modulated to suit various driving modes, including the Individual mode that can be adjusted to specifically suit the driver’s preferences. In terms of styling, the T-Roc R features extended wheel arches, a bespoke front bumper, with vertical daytime running lights, along with black fins incorporated into the air intake design, all adding to the more aggressive appearance. The door mirror housings feature a matt chrome effect finish. LED headlights provide effective dipped beam and main beam illumination while at the rear are smoked LED tail lights.

From the rear, the T-Roc R is distinguished by a tailgate spoiler along with the unique rear bumper which houses a diffuser panel featuring four chrome-finished tailpipes. Available as an option is the Akrapovič performance exhaust system, its titanium construction not only lighter (by 7kg) than the standard exhaust but also distinguished by the taller shape, matt finish and distinctive sound.

Inside, the T-Roc R features heavily bolstered seats, embroidered with the R logo, along with gloss black trim in the dash, centre console and door panels as well as R-badged trim on the door sill panels, gearknob, instrument cluster and the steering wheel. The sports leather steering wheel features multifunction buttons and the model-specific R button.

Priced from £30,825 the T-Roc R is significantly cheaper than the Tiguan R (from £46,430) with the only serious shortcoming of the T-Roc R being its reduced load capacity, with a boot volume of just 392 litres compared with 615 for the Tiguan. Then again, if load carrying is a high priority there’s also the Golf R Estate that we featured in the August 2022 issue of Performance VW. “You pays your money and you takes your choice”…


  • ENGINE: 1984cc 4-cylinder EA888 evo4 turbo TSI with direct petrol injection.
  • MAX POWER: 300hp (221kW)
  • MAX TORQUE: 400Nm (295lb/ft)
  • TRANSMISSION: Four-wheel drive, 7-speed DSG auto gearbox.


  • ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 4.9secs
  • TOP SPEED: 155mph (250kph)
  • COMBINED: 33.2mpg
  • COMBINED C02 emissions: 193g/km


  • LENGTH: 4236mm
  • WIDTH: 1819mm
  • HEIGHT: 1559mm
  • WHEELBASE: 2594mm
  • BOOT VOLUME (rear seats up): 392 litres
  • LOAD SPACE (rear seats folded fl at): 1237 litres
  • WEIGHT: 1575kg
  • UK LIST PRICE (RRP): from £30,825 on-the-road


The most powerful production Volkswagen yet, with 462hp and 700Nm from its combination of 3.0-litre V6 TSI petrol engine and 100kW electric motor, the Touareg R is the first fully-fledged production R model to be launched with an electrified powertrain.

The V6 TSI petrol engine and electric drive motor are integrated together in the engine compartment at the front, with the 14.3kWh (net) lithium-ion battery installed under the luggage compartment at the rear. Power electronics convert the direct current of the battery into alternating current for the electric drive motor.

An 8-speed automatic gearbox (with Tiptronic control) and a transfer box transmit power to all four wheels (4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive). A centre differential lock with asymmetric dynamic torque distribution (Torsen) acts as a transfer box for the distribution of power between the front and rear axle, with a maximum of 70 per cent of the power available to the front wheels, and up to 80 per cent to the rear axle.

With a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 5.1 seconds, just half a second off the Golf R’s 4.7-second figure, despite its considerable extra weight, the Touareg R has a top speed (limited) of 155mph, but achieves fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 94.2mpg and 67 g/km (measured on the industry standard WLTP combined cycle).

A 28-mile electric-only range using the Touareg R’s E-MODE adds to the model’s low-CO2 credentials, with the 14.3kWh (net) battery reducing running costs for this high-performance SUV, which is claimed to be ‘the most running-cost-friendly model in the Touareg range’. A plug-in hybrid, a mode 3, 32 A / 7.2kW charging cable is used to top up the battery from public charge points, taking 2.5 hours, while charging using a domestic three-pin socket will take 8.5 hours. When first started, if the battery is sufficiently charged, the Touareg R uses only the electric motor for speeds of up to 84mph. Above this, the 3.0 V6 TSI petrol engine is activated automatically, or at any time using kickdown for maximum acceleration in the Hybrid mode. Driven conservatively, it is capable of a range of 28 miles on electric alone.

On longer journeys, the combination of both engines results in low average consumption and very high combined ranges. If the navigation system, equipped as standard, is used for guidance to the destination and Hybrid mode is selected, a predictive hybrid strategy is automatically activated which further optimises the ranges.

The driver can also control the hybrid functions and select the driving profile using the Menu button on the 4MOTION Active Control in the centre console or the corresponding menu in the infotainment system. The available hybrid functions are E-MODE for all-electric driving and Hybrid mode for optimised and automatic interaction between the electric motor and the V6 engine.

The R model is clearly distinguished from other Touaregs by its specifically designed front and rear bumpers, a gloss black rear diffuser, and 9.5x22” ‘Estoril’ diamond-turned wheels shod with 285/35 R22 tyres. R badging within the front grille, on the wings, and in the centre of the tailgate, darkened tail lights and a black grille, mirror housings and window trim all add further visual impact.

Inside, the Touareg R features a comprehensive specification, with ergoComfort seats having a diamond-quilted ‘Puglia’ leather upholstery, finished with contrasting blue stitching and piping, and with active climate (heating and ventilation) function for front occupants.

It also has a unique heated leather sports steering wheel with R logo and gearshift paddles, 30-colour interior ambient lighting, and a keyless locking and starting system. Styling features include illuminated, R-branded door sill plates, diamond-quilted leather panels in the door cards, and blue highlights on the carpet mats.

As well as the extensive list of features from the rest of the range, the Touareg R also features an air suspension system with automatic self-levelling function, height adjustment and electronic shock absorption control.

A Park Assist package with 360-degree Area View camera and IQ. Light LED matrix headlights uses information from the car’s front camera, navigation data and GPS information, steering angle and speed to optimise lighting for numerous driving situations. The system also incorporates LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights with dynamic indicators, and Dynamic Light Assist high-beam control. A panoramic sunroof is also among the list of standardfit equipment, while the extensive options list could easily take the price way beyond £100,000. The ultimate VW SUV certainly doesn’t come cheap!!!


  • ENGINE: 2995cc V6-cylinder petrol engine + 100kW electric motor.
  • MAX POWER: 462hp (340kW)
  • MAX TORQUE: 700Nm (516lb/ft)
  • TRANSMISSION: Four-wheel drive, 8-speed Tiptronic auto gearbox.


  • ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 5.1secs
  • TOP SPEED: 155mph (250kph)
  • COMBINED: 94.2mpg
  • COMBINED C02 emissions: 67g/km


  • LENGTH: 4878mm
  • WIDTH: 1984mm
  • HEIGHT: 1686mm
  • WHEELBASE: 2899mm
  • BOOT VOLUME (rear seats up): 665 litres
  • LOAD SPACE (rear seats folded fl at): 1675 litres
  • WEIGHT: 2465kg
  • UK LIST PRICE (RRP): from £71,995 on-the-road


The current R versions of the Tiguan, T-Roc and Touareg are but the latest in a long line of high-performance SUVs from the Volkswagen Group. Cast your mind back to 2003 and the Touareg V10, powered by ‘the world’s most powerful passenger car diesel engine’ at that time. Producing 313hp at 4000rpm and 750Nm (553lb/ft) of torque at 2000rpm, this big heavy SUV was capable of a 0 to 62mph time of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 140mph, along with EU combined fuel economy of 23.2mpg.

With 313hp and a whopping 750Nm of torque, Touareg V10 was boss in 03!

Then there was the R50 version in 2007, powered by a 5.0-litre V10 diesel engine that produced 349hp (257kW) and 850Nm (627lb/ft) of torque, in conjunction with a 6-speed auto transmission, capable of 0 to 62mph in 6.7 seconds. It came as standard with 21” ‘Omanyt’ alloy wheels, sport-tuned air suspension, special interior trim inlays, and with the option of a four-zone Climatronic climate control.

R50 V10 arrived in 2007 and boasted 349bhp and a staggering 850Nm!

But the ultimate VW SUV was the limited edition W12 (2005 — 2010) equipped with a 6.0-litre 48-valve W12 FSI engine, producing 450hp and 600Nm (443lb/ft) and claimed to be capable of 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. Only 500 were produced, mostly for sale in Saudi Arabia.

Limited edition W12 (above) was capable of 0-62mph in 5.9secs

If that was a bit thirsty for you, the Touareg V6 TSI Hybrid of 2009 featured the combination of a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with a TVS supercharger, producing 333 hp (245kW) at 5500rpm and 440Nm (325lb/ft) of torque at 3000rpm, along with an electric motor rated at 52hp (38kW) and 300Nm (220lb/ft) of torque, with an 8-speed automatic transmission. With a combined power rating of 374hp (275kW) and 550Nm (406lb/ft) of torque, it was a real stump puller, capable of 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds – pretty nippy when you consider that it weighed 2240kg – along with combined fuel economy of 34mpg.

Above: Supercharged V6 TSI Hybrid Touareg also ran electric motor in 2009

Not quite in the same league but worthy of mention is the 2016-2020 Tiguan which came with a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI engine developing 240hp and 500 Nm torque, along with 6-speed DSG gearbox and 4-wheel drive, good for a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 143mph along with typical average fuel economy of well over 40mpg.

2016's twin-turbo Tiguan would do 143mph and return 40mpg!

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