No tiger in the TANK

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - FRONT PAGE -

VOLK­SWA­GEN’S player in the very com­pet­i­tive CUV (crossover util­ity ve­hi­cle) mar­ket is the Tiguan. We are all aware Volk­swa­gen has a pen­chant for cre­ative ad­ver­tis­ing and brand­ing, so I am of­ten asked what that odd name means. The short an­swer is it doesn’t mean any­thing, re­ally; it’s made up.

The term Tiguan, pro­nounced TEE-gwan, is an amal­ga­ma­tion of the Ger­man words Tiger (tiger) and Leguan (iguana). This name won out in a con­test held by Ger­man car­magazine publisher Au­to­bild, from a field of names that in­cluded Namib, Rock­ton, Liger, Sa­mun and Nanuk. So maybe Tiguan is not a bad choice, al­though Nanuk would have been en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate in Canada.

The styling of the Tiguan is pleas­antly in­flu­enced by the par­ent VW Group, which in­cludes Audi, Bent­ley, Bugatti, Lam­borgh­ini and Porsche. There are some good artis­tic genes in this blood­line, and Volk­swa­gen keeps the Tiguan styling cool, clean and quite Ger­man.

The sim­plis­tic grille and HID head­lights carry the VW cor­po­rate look, and the char­ac­ter lines are crisp, de­fined and rather con­ser­va­tive. There are no wild flour­ishes or add-ons for the sake of some de­sign theme. This phi­los­o­phy is a dou­ble-edged sword — the re­sults are un­clut­tered, even clas­sic, but can be some­what life­less.

The de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties carry into the Tiguan’s cabin. The in­stru­ment lay­out is com­pletely log­i­cal and easy to read with a re­fresh­ing style. The sur­faces are mostly black and sil­ver hard plas­tic that look good but feel some­what cold. The heated seats bring some warm and fuzzies if the in­te­rior de­sign doesn’t.

There is a touch-screen dis­play in the top cen­tre of the dash­board for the RNS 510 nav­i­ga­tion and op­tional Dy­nau­dio 300-watt au­dio sys­tem with 30GB hard drive as part of the op­tional Tech­nol­ogy Pack­age. At 6.5-inches, the dis­play is not one of the larger units on the mar­ket and I had to lean closer to look at the street map.

The HVAC is con­trolled via a trio of ro­tary knobs for which I was grate­ful ... but please tell me why there was no dig­i­tal read­out for the tem­per­a­ture? The left-hand knob had a blue to red scale, but I could not find the de­grees in nu­meric form on the dash or on the touch­screen dis­play.

The panoramic sun­roof is a won­der­ful fea­ture, bright­en­ing up the all­black in­te­rior and keep­ing the rearseat pas­sen­gers from any chance of claus­tro­pho­bia set­ting in. Seat­ing is rated for five, though four adults and a child would be more re­al­is­tic.

There are three lev­els of Tiguans. In as­cend­ing or­der of cost and fea- tures, they are: Trend­line, Com­fort­line and High­line. There are var­i­ous pack­ages that can be added, such as Con­ve­nience or Sport, plus the Sport­line is avail­able with the R-Line Pack­age in the 2014 model.

Tiguans come in two driv­e­line flavours, FWD (front wheel drive) or 4Mo­tion AWD (all-wheel drive). The test ve­hi­cle re­viewed here is the Com­fort­line 4Mo­tion, right smack in the mid­dle of the lineup. It’s too bad all Tiguans are pow­ered by the same en­gine no mat­ter the trim level, so there is no horse­power gains to be had from or­der­ing a High­line R-Line Pack­age.

UN­DER the hood is a tur­bocharged and in­ter­cooled 2.0-litre, in-line four-cylin­der en­gine with 16 valves, which gen­er­ates 200 horse­power be­tween 5,100 and 6,000 rpm, a rather high en­gine speed. Thank­fully, the 207 pound­feet of torque curve be­gins early, at 1,700 rpm and go­ing to 5,000, so the 2.0 isn’t gut­less at nor­mal speeds. I did find there was some lag to the throt­tle, which was an­noy­ing in ur­ban stop-and-go driv­ing.

In wet or snowy con­di­tions, VW’s seam­less 4Mo­tion all-wheel drive sys­tem with adap­tive torque dis­tri­bu­tion re­quires zero in­put from the driver to ac­ti­vate — it’s on duty 24/7. This lim­its the Tiguan’s off-road am­bi­tions to

10.3 back roads rather than cross-coun­try romps in the dirt and snow. There is no 4x4 low or high gear, no lock­able dif­fer­en­tials and such. You need to look at a Jeep Wran­gler for that sort of thing.

In case you drive be­yond the Tiguan’s 4Mo­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties, safety mea­sures are in place. If a cer­tain sever­ity of crash im­pact is de­tected, all doors are au­to­mat­i­cally un­locked, the bat­tery ter­mi­nal is dis­con­nected from the al­ter­na­tor cable, fuel sup­ply is shut off, warn­ing hazard lights are switched on, and high con­sump­tion elec­tri­cal com­po­nents are shut off au­to­mat­i­cally.

I liked the Tiguan af­ter my week with it, but it didn’t in­spire me to drive it more than nec­es­sary. The ex­te­rior ap­pealed to my eye, but in a mar­ket­place as crowded as the com­pact SUV niche, some­thing ex­tra is re­quired, more than just an ad­e­quate en­gine and strong chin. With only 200 horses un­der the hood, it wasn’t pleas­ing to see that pre­mium fuel was re­quired when it came time to fuel up the Tig. Re­ally? I would have ex­pected some ex­cit­ing driv­ing for the ex­tra cost.

The 2014 Tiguan cov­ers the ba­sics well. It went about its busi­ness with­out drama, but, alas, I didn’t fall in love. Hope­fully we can still be friends.







DESTI­NA­TION CHARGE: The Tiguan’s in­stru­ment

lay­out is log­i­cal.

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