High on the food chain
VW adds rousing performance to cabin refinement
IF you’re the type who can’t have too much of a good thing, Volkswagen has a Tiguan for you. The range-topping 162TSI Highline takes the spacious, smart packaging of Carsguide’s Car of the Year and wraps it around a Golf GTI engine.
The result is a mid-sized SUV that can’t be matched for performance this side of a prestige soft-roader and has no peers on price at $48,490. The cheapest of the comparable rivals is Volvo’s XC60 T5 at $63,990.
It doesn’t take a lot to push the 162TSI towards $60K and most buyers are heading in that direction. More than 70 per cent of Highline buyers are opting for the $4000 R-Line pack that adds cosmetic upgrades, 20-inch alloys, variable-ratio steering and adaptive suspension damping.
Another popular pick, the $2000 driving assistance pack, bundles adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, adjustable hi-res digital driver’s display, lane-change assist and rearcross traffic alert. Then there’s a luxury pack at $2000 …
Highlights among the standard gear are autonomous emergency braking, eight-inch infotainment screen with satnav, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, power tailgate and three-zone aircon.
ON THE ROAD
All-wheel drive and a sevenspeed transmission help the Tiguan officially match the Golf GTI’s 100km/h time of 6.5 seconds. It is worth bragging rights at the golf club but the reality is the lower, lighter hatch will disappear down the road in the real world.
Compare like with like, though, and there isn’t a lot to trouble the 162TSI in the midsized SUV ranks.
The suspension is firmer than most mainstream SUVs. That helps the car sit flat through the turns — it hasn’t been dialled up to sports tune so there’s enough give at low speeds to avoid bouncing around in the city.
The standard Tiguan 162 rides on 18-inch alloys with a bigger sidewall and they do the best job of balancing comfort and cornering. The 20-inch R-Line rims look immeasurably better and, along with the adaptive dampers, improve the SUVs cornering but also mean that some of the road ripples can be faintly felt in the cabin.
At any speed the Tiguan is commendably quiet. There’s a hint of wind noise off the windscreen pillars and minor tyre roar on coarse bitumen but the sound suppression is up there with the best.
The dual-clutch auto is well- calibrated on the move, flicking up to taller gears as soon as it can to cut fuel use but quick to kickdown in response to accelerator pressure. Press the pedal harder and the Tiguan hangs on to gears up to the redline, showing a tidy turn of pace.
The heavy hitter 162TSI Highline combines a refined cabin with rousing performance. It is also hard to fault its composure around town or on the open road. Just don’t try chasing down GTIs …