Tiguan big on space, util­ity

North Bay Nugget - - DRIVING - Derek Mc­naughton

Volk­swa­gen has long prided it­self on build­ing cars geared to those who drive briskly, those who take cor­ners quick enough to make the spouse clutch the in­te­rior grab han­dles while cast­ing the eye. VW’S all-new 2018 Tiguan might have started out on the draw­ing board with that fo­cus, but what came out the other end is some­thing far more friendly to fam­i­lies. Hence the op­tional third row, how­ever small, and its other­wise roomy new cabin.

But for­get the third row. Hon­estly, for those who re­ally need a seven-seater, move up to the At­las or get a mini­van. Opt­ing for a third row eats up pre­cious cargo space, of which there is plenty in the new Tiguan two-row mod­els. In­deed, based on the same chas­sis as the much big­ger At­las, VW’S new Tiguan has grown some 268 mil­lime­tres over the out­go­ing model. In­te­rior space is boosted and cargo ex­panded by al­most 60 per cent in the five-seater. Thank good­ness for that, be­cause the tired, 10-year old Tiggy was not much big­ger than a stan­dard Golf. The new one is like step­ping into a van: cav­ernous, just shy in cargo to the seg­ment-lead­ing Honda CR-V.

On our two-row test model, the new Tiguan yielded 37.6 cu­bic feet (1,065 litres) of space be­hind the 40/20/40-split fold­ing rear seats and 73.5 cu­bic feet (2,080 L) with the seats down. With the seats up, there’s enough room to swal­low four or five good-sized hockey bags. The rear seats re­lease eas­ily with a lever from the rear or from a cord at the seat base, the cargo floor cov­ers the spare tire, and tiedown hooks and a 12-volt out­let are handy.

On our High­line model — the top trim in a trio that also in­cludes the base Trend­line and mid-range Com­fort­line — the power tail­gate can be opened and closed with the key fob or but­tons on the tail­gate. Nooks and cub­bies in the back ap­pear us­able.

Rear-seat legroom is more than gen­er­ous. I mea­sured six inches of space from my knees to the seat­back. Even with the front seats po­si­tioned well back, six-foot-tall teenagers will have am­ple knee room. Kids in car seats won’t be able to kick the back of the front seats or land punches at each other, and that alone could be worth the price of ad­mis­sion.

That price is sig­nif­i­cant — $39,175 to start for the High­line. While base Tiguans start at $28,925 with­out 4Mo­tion all-wheel drive ($31,175 with 4Mo­tion), our test unit also came with a $1,470 driver-as­sis­tance pack­age that in­cludes adap­tive cruise, a 360-de­gree mon­i­tor, lane as­sist, light as­sist and re­mote start. With freight and fees, the price topped $42,500 be­fore taxes. The big­ger, mid-level Com­fort­line At­las costs $39,690 be­fore freight ($43,790 with AWD) and comes only marginally less equipped. So, yes, there’s a price pre­mium on the new Tiguan. By com­par­i­son, the most ex­pen­sive 2018 Honda CR-V Tour­ing costs $38,490, and the up­level Mazda CX-5 GT comes in at $34,700 to start.

The CX-5 feels some­what sportier, too. Even when the Tiguan was in Sport mode — other modes are Nor­mal, Eco and In­di­vid­ual — the Tiguan felt re­luc­tant to ac­cel­er­ate off the line and any­where near the low end.

There’s no short­age of torque — 221 pound-feet from the re­vised 2.0-L tur­bocharged and di­rect­in­jected four-cylin­der — and it’s all avail­able early at low rpm. That should be plenty, but the driver re­ally needs to stand on the skinny pedal to make much hap­pen. Then, the Tiggy will giddy up, whip­ping the 184-horse­power en­gine to make it play with the new eight-speed au­to­matic. The en­gine is will­ing, for sure, but its ini­tial de­liv­ery is less than ideal. It can be growly too; my son asked if it was a diesel.

The eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion has no such ail­ments, shift­ing smartly and ap­pro­pri­ately at all times. Max­i­mum tow­ing is lim­ited to 1,500 pounds (680 kilo­grams). Fuel con­sump­tion was ac­cept­able. On the high­way at 100 km/h, I achieved a low of 8.2 L/100 km. In town, the av­er­age was closer to 10. And it takes reg­u­lar fuel, with a full, 58-L tank show­ing al­most 700 km of range.

Bet­ter, and se­ri­ously sat­is­fy­ing, is the ride. Ex­tremely smooth, the 2018 Tiguan ben­e­fits from the added 185 mm of wheel­base. Scarred and bro­ken roads are com­fort­ably ab­sorbed, yet han­dling is sur­pris­ingly tight, given the Tiguan’s sig­nif­i­cant 1,678-kg curb weight. On twisty coun­try roads, the Tiguan stuck to the road with lit­tle body lean. The elec­tric power steer­ing sys­tem is quick to come off-cen­tre, but re­spon­sive and light with mod­er­ate feed­back. Brak­ing feels strong, and road noise is well con­trolled but not com­pletely un­no­tice­able. Vis­i­bil­ity is very good and it’s easy to drive.

In­side is where the Tiguan truly

stands apart. While a mi­nor rat­tle was de­tected, the fit and fin­ish are ex­cel­lent, the eight-inch Com­po­si­tion Me­dia touch screen is a much im­proved ver­sion of the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems that came be­fore, al­though the glass touch­screen sur­face does get marred eas­ily with fin­ger­prints. A pre­mium, multi-colour in­stru­ment screen is stan­dard on Com­fort­line and High­line. Clear and easy to see, the in­stru­men­ta­tion looks sharp. It’s also highly con­fig­urable, even al­low­ing nav­i­ga­tion to be dis­played on the cen­tre screen. Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto are stan­dard.

A 360-de­gree view, dis­played across the eight-inch cen­tral screen, is very good and help­ful in all park­ing sit­u­a­tions. The Tiguan’s Park Dis­tance Con­trol will alert you to ob­jects and even ap­ply the brakes if it de­tects an im­mi­nent im­pact. The seats, while never un­com­fort­able, didn’t ad­just to a com­pletely nat­u­ral feel, per­haps be­cause of the high dash. But get­ting in and out is easy, good for those with sore backs and ag­ing bones.

The look of the new Tiguan is equally im­pres­sive. No, its sharp lines and tidy front and rear won’t lure GTI drivers out of their cars. But for fam­i­lies look­ing for space, util­ity and func­tion in a Ger­ma­nengi­neered CUV, the 2018 Tiguan has al­most ev­ery­thing else they could want.

Driv­ing.ca

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