For years, Volkswagen has relied on its advanced diesel technology in both Europe and the U.S. to help it increase full economy and reduce consumption. While those days are far from over, with the introduction of the all-new 2011 Volkswagen Touareg, VW is sending a strong new signal in its drive to go even greener. The Touareg is not only the automaker's first hybrid, but VW will also be the first automaker in America to offer both diesel and hybrid models of the same vehicle.
The new Touareg -- built on a completely redesigned platform for 2011 -- is a big step forward for Volkswagen. As one engineer reportedly said at the press launch, the Germans may not be the first to do something, but they do it the best. The Touareg Hybrid is an embodiment of this sentiment, its technology a considerable advancement for hybrids in general.
The first thing you may notice about the Touareg Hybrid is that it's difficult to pick out of an all-Touareg lineup. Save for hybrid badges on the front and rear (the large "hybrid" stickers in some pictures won't be on production vehicles), the exterior of the vehicle is identical to other variants, sporting the same handsome styling, tight-fitting skin and agreeable proportions. The Touareg Hybrid is more about getting the job done than making a statement. It's not an afterthought, either. A hybrid model has been in the cards ever since a next-generation Touareg was first proposed to Volkswagen's product planners back in 2005.
Beneath the hood of the Touareg Hybrid lies a 333-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine shared with Audi that produces 324 pound-feet of torque. Mated to the gasoline engine via an automatic dry clutch is a 47-horsepower, 34-kilowatt electric motor that produces 99 pound-feet of torque, bringing the system total to 375 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful drivetrain offered in the new Touareg. This also means that the Touareg Hybrid shares the same 7700-pound towing capacity as its gasoline-only and diesel counterparts.
The combined electric and gasoline motors put their power to the wheels through Volkswagen's new eight-speed automatic transmission, an evolution of their six-speed automatic that now features two overdrive gears instead of one. From there, power travels through a Torsen limited-slip differential to all four wheels, with 60 percent of the power heading to the rear during normal driving. This all wheel-drive drivetrain is standard on all Touareg models.