Volkswagen’s Tiguan has stepped-up as a real SUV rather than simply being a Golf spin-off. BRENT DAVISON put the newest ‘Tiggy’ to the test and came away impressed.
Let me say, right from the start, that while I liked Volkswagen’s first generation Tiguan, I was never a true fan. There was nothing at all wrong with the car, just the opposite in fact with Gen One Tiguan showing that Volkswagen had gone to enormous lengths to get it right in every possible way.
No, its problem was that, because it was spun-off the hugely successful Golf, it lacked the size it really needed and it felt just a bit too much like a Golf. Again, nothing wrong with that because Golf is a truly sublime car. But this latest Tiguan addresses those issues anyway, having both grown up (and out, and lengthways) and casting off its ties to Golf by virtue of the company’s MQB platform design which means it ‘shares’ with Golf rather than being ‘based on’ Golf. A big difference and not mere semantics.
It might be a reasonably-sized SUV, but it still feels like a nimble small hatchback.
Visually Tiguan presents a completely new dynamic design character, and those larger proportions mean more space inside, a significant gain in luggage space and more versatility.
Not only that, Tiguan boasts one of the most comprehensive packages of standard safety equipment and driver assistance systems in the segment with Front Assist, City Emergency Brake, Lane Assist, Driver Fatigue Detection, an Active Bonnet for pedestrian safety, Multi-Collision Brake, Park Assist and a rear-view camera.
Our test car, the 132TSI Comfortline, features a turbocharged 2.0 litre, 132-kilowatt, fuel-injected four-cylinder engine, the middle child in a petrol engine family with a 110-kilowatt engine at the entry point and a 162 kilowatt unit at the top.
Diesel fans are catered for with 110 and 140 kilowatt BlueMotion engines. My test unit also featured the seven-speed DSG double-clutch automatic transmission, a unit with a ratio spread that nicely matches the engine’s power and torque characteristics.
The 132TSI Comfortline also runs Volkswagen’s impressive 4Motion all-wheel-drive system (the 110TSI Trendline and Comfortline pair are front-wheel-drive) which uses a torque-sensing differential to automatically spread torque between the front and rear axles, getting it to where it is most needed.
I didn’t get a chance to take the car on any serious off-road tracks, but I did get to enjoy the AWD abilities on wet, slippery roads a couple of times and came away impressed. The system also has Active Control which lets drivers tailor the car’s driving characteristics to the road surface and prevailing conditions simply by turning a console-mounted dial and it doesn’t get any simpler than that.
I also quickly became a fan of the well laid-out dashboard and its digital instrument display and big centre screen for the satellite navigation readout (and various vehicle functions), just as I became an instant fan of the Area View graphics which comes up on the screen when parking to show a 360-degree, bird’s eye view of the car and its immediate surrounds. If only all cars had this!
The other things that tickled my fancy? The lower load sill and electric tailgate with Easy Open and Easy Close functions made getting access to the boot easier and speaking of luggage space, who can argue with a 615-litre cavern that blows out to 1655 litres when the rear seat is folded? On the
On the road, Tiguan is as capable as they come courtesy of a chassis design that seemingly blends the dynamics of a passenger sedan with those of a solid off-roader. The engine sits sideways under the bonnet and suspension is fully independent with MacPherson struts and lower A-arms up front and multiple rear links. Even though the ground clearance is an impressive 201mm, the standard 17-inch wheels and 215/65 tyres, coupled with the suspension design alleviate any feeling of top-heaviness, even when the car is driven with a bit of verve.
Electrically-assisted rack and pinion steering is light without being vague, and the suspension soaks up the bumps rather than floating across the top of them. It might be a reasonably-sized SUV, but it still feels like a nimble small hatchback.
What impresses most about the performance side of the equation is the 2.0-litre turbo engine and while 132 kilowatts does not seem to be a big amount of power it comes on song at a reasonably modest 3900rpm and hangs in all the way through to 6000rpm.
Similarly, the impressive torque output (320 Newton metres) rolls in at a lazy 1500rpm and stays at 100 percent until the rev counter hits 3900rpm, the point at which maximum power arrives.
The net result? Completely linear acceleration almost from idle with barely a punctuation mark made as the DSG runs through each of its gears and the strength of it proven by the impressive 7.7 second 0-100km/h time.
So bigger, roomier, imbued with more road presence, well equipped and with a good blend of ride and handling. What’s not to like?
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