TIGUAN WITH A SPACE ODDITY

The fam­ily freighter takes seven yet it’s more ag­ile than most five-seaters

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - NEWS - BILL McKINNON

H ow come Volk­swa­gen is sell­ing a seven-seat SUV here for less than the sticker on the five-seater ver­sion? It’s to do, in a round­about way, with Euro­pean buy­ers get­ting cleaner, thriftier cars.

For now, you can no longer buy a base model five-seater VW Tiguan 110TSi here — it will re­turn next year (see panel) — and the cheap­est is the next grade up, the 132TSi at$42,490.

If you just need a front-drive city shut­tle, you can get the en­try-level seven-seater Tiguan All space for less than $41K. For re­view pur­poses, we’re in the next grade up too.

VALUE

We’re test­ing the mid-spec Allspace 132TSi Com­fort­line 4Mo­tion, at $45,490 a $3000 pre­mium over the five-seater Com­fort­line.

It runs VW’s 2.0-litre turbo (132kW/320Nm) matched ex­clu­sively with a seven-speed du­al­clutch au­to­matic and all-wheel drive.

The Allspace adds 109mm of wheel­base and 215mm of over­all length to the five-seater. Struc­turally, and size-wise, it’s al­most iden­ti­cal to sub­sidiary brand Skoda’s seven-seater Ko­diaq, our 2017 Car of the Year.

Com­fort­line spec in­cludes eight-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment with Ap­ple CarPlay/ An­droid Auto con­nec­tiv­ity (with ac­cess to voice con­trol), re­mote op­er­a­tion via smart­phone or tablet, nav­i­ga­tion, three USB ports, tri-zone air­con (with row two vents and con­trols), chilled glove­box, LED head­lights that il­lu­mi­nate a cor­ner as you turn the wheel, au­to­matic park­ing and power tail­gate.

COM­FORT

The ride, on 18-inch wheels, is pretty firm and fid­gety in town. The base 110TSi, on 17-inch­ers and taller tyres, will be more com­fort­able.

At high­way speeds, sus­pen­sion com­pli­ance im­proves and the 132TSi irons out a rough road calmly and ef­fi­ciently. The Hankook tyres are ex­cep­tion­ally quiet, too.

You sit deep in the Tiguan, so it can feel big­ger and bulkier than it is. Firm, sup­port­ive seat­ing is typ­i­cal VW, there’s handy stor­age all over the place.

Row two has am­ple legroom. It’s split 60-40, with each side ad­justable, and there are flip up ta­bles on the front seat backs plus a 12V out­let.

VW cor­rectly calls the Allspace a “5+2”, be­cause the two fold-up rear seats are suit­able only for young kids or very short trips and ac­cess is tight. The larger sec­tion of row two is on the kerb­side, so it takes some mus­cle to fold and slide it to let kids in and out of the back stalls.

Fold the third row and the boot ex­tends to al­most two me­tres. With all seats in use, you can still fit a few bags in the back.

SAFETY

Au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion, brak­ing from 10km/h and un­der in re­verse and lane keep­ing are stan­dard. Cur­tain airbags cover all rows. A $1600 op­tion bun­dles adap­tive cruise (with a low speed crawl func­tion), adap­tive LED head­lights, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing and rear cross traf­fic alert.

DRIV­ING

If your usual route of town is via the air­port, the 110TSi will do the job just fine, and at $40,990 it’s a bar­gain. If reg­u­lar high­way drives and/or the oc­ca­sional dirt road ex­cur­sion with a full load of peo­ple and gear are on the agenda, the 132TSi is worth the ex­tra spend.

VW’s 2.0 is get­ting on, as ev­i­denced by no­tice­able turbo lag when mov­ing off from rest, ac­com­pa­nied by the usual mo­men­tary hes­i­ta­tion from the trans­mis­sion. Once rolling, it’s a tractable, re­fined en­gine.

Dy­namic abil­ity is as good as a seven-seater SUV gets — and the Allspace’s han­dling is more ag­ile and re­spon­sive than most five-seaters thanks to its rel­a­tively light 1735kg, the AWD ap­por­tion­ing drive fore and aft, dis­ci­plined body con­trol, ac­cu­rate, well-weighted steer­ing and strong brakes.

HEART SAYS

I know I can’t en­joy a real car any more be­cause I have to carry too many chil­dren. At least this one is a plea­sure to drive.

HEAD SAYS

I need an ex­tra cou­ple of seats only oc­ca­sion­ally, so I can get away with some­thing lighter, more ef­fi­cient and stylish than a full­size seven-seater SUV.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES HYUNDAI SANTA FE FROM $46,000

Buys the 147kW 2.2 turbo diesel/eight-speed auto/all-wheel drive Ac­tive. Big grunt, su­perb qual­ity and com­fort, de­cent han­dling and loads of driver as­sist safety tech. Five years’ war­ranty.

SKODA KO­DIAQ 132TSI FROM $42,990

Same as the Tiguan un­der­neath, with Skoda styling and ex­tra stan­dard equip­ment, in­clud­ing nine airbags, adap­tive cruise, leather/Alcantara up­hol­stery, side win­dow blinds, door pro­tec­tors and 19-inch al­loys. Five years’ war­ranty.

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