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Volkswagen Touareg R interior

Don’t expect a hardcore cabin for the sportiest Touareg – it’s largely the same as the standard model, bar some R detailing

Style

Volkswagen doesn’t really do outlandish – and that shows in the cabin of the Touareg R. Whereas some hot SUV alternatives get lashings of carbon fibre and figure hugging seats, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and the standard Touareg at a glance.

There are some differences, though. Upgrades extend to quilted leather sports seats, blue stitching on the seats and across the top of the dash, a  steering wheel with a sportier rim and blue trim, and some subtle R badging in places such as the door sills.

Don’t be fooled, though: the seats and steering wheel (albeit without the blue stitching) can already be had on R-Line models. It’s a shame VW didn’t see fit to do a bit more inside to make it stand out.

There’s loads of kit, though – as well as your heated, ventilated and massaging seats you get stuff such as Matrix LED headlights, a 360-degree parking camera and a panoramic glass roof.

The minimalist look isn’t exactly exciting to look at, but it’s simple, elegant and solid.   There’s a decent amount of soft-touch trim, too, but some scratchier plastics that you won’t find in something like a BMW X5 M.

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Infotainment

The VW Touareg R skips the smaller screen option of lower-spec Touaregs and gets an absolutely huge 15-inch touchscreen that’s bigger than anything you’ll find in any other SUV short of a Tesla Model X.

It comes with satellite-navigation, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones built in. So, it can do everything the Audi SQ7’s system can do.

The screen is clear and bright – even in direct sunlight – but you don’t get any physical shortcut buttons to help you switch from one feature to another. There isn’t a scroll wheel on the centre console like you get in the BMW X5, either, and the menu icons are all the same colour which makes it slightly tricky to tell them apart with just a quick glance.

The menus are just as drab as the smaller screen, but the larger icons make it easier to use. You can also swipe down from the top of the screen at any time to bring up a selection of the features you use most often.

Less intuitive are the on-screen climate control buttons which replace the conventional physical knobs and dials you get in other Touaregs. These sit in a neat row at the bottom of the screen like in a Volvo XC90, but it takes a few more presses to adjust the cabin temperature than the controls in an SQ7 or X5 M.

This  system also comes with sat-nav as standard. It’s dead easy to input an address using the huge on-screen keyboard and it calculates three options based on whether you fancy the shortest, quickest or most scenic route.

Adding a waypoint is a doddle and the map responds almost instantly if you swipe to pan or pinch to zoom in. The maps themselves don’t look quite as fancy as the Google-earth imagery you get in the Audi Q7, but they’re super sharp and easy to follow.

The  Touareg R also comes with a 12-inch digital driver’s display instead of analogue dials. This can display a combination of dial graphics and massive widescreen maps right in your eye line. It looks just as sharp as the similar screens you get in the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 and is controlled using a few intuitive buttons on the steering wheel.

Every VW Touareg comes with an eight-speaker stereo as standard, but if you fancy really turning up the volume you’ll want to upgrade to the optional Dynaudio unit. This 730-watt system comes with 14 speakers including a subwoofer in the boot to deliver clearer, more powerful bass.