Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The 5.0-litre V10 TDI engine is used in the standard Touareg but the R50 version boasts 350bhp (compared to 313bhp) plus even more pulling power. This translates into a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds, making it faster than the Golf R32 but it's the effortless and endless acceleration that impresses - especially when it comes to overtaking. However, the power delivery isn't particularly smooth, so when the gearbox kicks down it's accompanied by a sudden shove of acceleration.

The V10 diesel is also very noisy when pushed hard and there's noticeable vibration in the cabin. This performance has another downside: economy. The R50 returns a woeful 24mpg and emits 315g/km of CO2 making it expensive to tax. The only gearbox available is a six-speed automatic which offers smooth and quick changes, although does sometimes need encouragement to shift down.

There are no such gripes with the brakes though, which provide superb stopping power.

Although it has a lower ride height than the standard car the R50 doesn't eliminate body roll in corners and it can feel heavy, particularly if you increase the pace - although that's little surprise considering it weighs more than two and a half tonnes. However the 4XMotion system is a continuous four-wheel drive system which gives excellent traction for the engine's immense pulling power, especially in the wet.

It does come with air suspension as standard, designed to provide decent levels of comfort, but while the Touareg is good when steadily cruising, it doesn't cope particularly well with uneven or bumpy roads - the large wheels and low profile tyres do little to help. Overall it lacks the smoothness of the standard car and isn't as nimble as other high performance off-roaders such as the BMW X5.