Hugely popular premium crossover finally rolls out in India
THE VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN WAS launched in May this year, with the Comfortline priced at Rs 27.98 lakh and the top-end Highline at Rs 31.38 lakh (both ex-showroom, Delhi). You probably know this already. Once the price was revealed, most of us had preconceived notions about the VW, many terming it pricey for a five-seater soft-roader. But hold on. I’ve just driven this well-made German car and feel it definitely deserves a fair fighting chance.
Just like the Škoda Yeti, the Tiguan will appeal to a niche audience — those who appreciate Europe’s fine fit and finish, a taut ride, understated design and parts fit to last. If you remember, many Yeti buyers were initially hesitant to buy the odd-ball SUV but, having used it over the years, aren’t willing to part with it even now. The Tiguan has similar traits.
This smallest SUV from the company is the first from Volkswagen India to be based on the MQB platform. The monocoque underpinning gives it sedan-like dynamics and the standard all-wheel drive ensures that it never shies away from adventure. The marketing team is certain that the Tiguan, with its comparatively cheaper sticker price and practicality, would lure Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1 buyers.
The understated design of the Tiguan works for me. Without unnecessary flares or confusing lines, the bold character lines give it a strong stance. The VW design is simple and effective; something that won’t go off the menu soon and age gracefully.
The front has a distinct chrome grille with a couple of slats and large LED headlights sit on its side. The design isn’t bulky like the usual SUV and due t o the roofline looks more like a crossover. I also like the 18-inch alloy wheels that come on the Highline variant of the test car and the beautiful tail-lamps. The rear design doesn’t have any other surprises and the subtle lines continue here as well.
It’s a compact car and not as intimidating as larger (but similarly priced) SUVs like the Fortuner and Endeavour. This VW has a certain calmness in design which makes it very approachable, yet appealing and pretty upmarket.
The great build continues to impress as one steps into the cabin. The dashboard design is minimalist, but the fit-and-finish is spectacular for the segment. From the panel gaps to the feel of the knobs and buttons, everything resonates with German precision and quality.
It’s an all-black cabin which looks and feels premium. Maybe, a dual-tone dashboard would have made the cabin brighter. The soft-touch plastic, LED ambience lights and great ergonomics leave little else to be desired.
The soft-touch plastic is limited to the front row, though, as the rear door panels get the usual hard but well-finished plastic. The Highline version I drove comes loaded to the brim with features. It gets a full-size sunroof, six airbags, three-zone climate control, and an automatic electrically operated boot-lid.
The driver’s aids include a large touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature, steeringmounted gear shifters, rear camera with parking sensors, electronic parking brake, hill hold with hill descent control, tyre pressure monitoring system, on- and offroad driving modes, and electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory.
The seats look upmarket, wrapped in classy black Vienna leather, and are contoured well to keep you comfortably cocooned in place. You get good visibility from the driver’s seat because of the slim A-pillar. Finding the perfect driving position is easy thanks to the eight-way adjustable electrically powered seat.
The rest of the seats have to be adjusted manually, but one can play around quite a bit with the setup. The front passenger seat, apart from the usual setting, is also adjustable for height. At the back, the split r ear seat’s
back-rest can be reclined further for comfort, while the base can be moved back or forwards to increase kneeroom or storage space.
Speaking of which, the boot is massive, rated at 615 litres, and it also conceals a space-saver spare wheel. Since the tyres come with a special self-sealing gel, hopefully the extra wheel won’t be needed... unless you manage to cut the tyre’s side-wall. Then there’s a whole bunch of safety features — six airbags, ABS, ESP and a cool new feature called Active Hood also makes it to India. This elevates the bonnet to minimise the impact if there is ever frontal collision.
Although it comes in two trim levels, both come powered with a new 2.0-litre TDI and new-age sevenspeed DSG. The latest generation diesel motor promises low emissions and produces a decent power figure of 143 PS and 340 Nm of torque and the transmission is different from the infamous seven-speed DSG available in India. So no worries about the powertrain.
There’s the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system which, under normal driving, tends to power the front wheels, but, if need be, can distribute torque to all the four wheels. Another interesting feature is that during coasting (when the driver is off the gas) the transmission decouples from the engine to help conserve some more fuel.
This brings us to engine refinement. The new 2.0-litre is pretty quiet and barely sounds like a diesel. It’s hardly audible during idling and has a sporty hum around 2,000 rpm, as the power surges in. The DSG transmission does a terrific job of smooth power delivery, right from the moment you slam the accelerator pedal. The Tiguan is quick off its feet and even with its 1.7-tonne weight feels effortless if you accelerate hard.
The seven-speed is quick to shift up or down, depending on the need of the situation and rarely hesitates or keeps you wanting. Sport mode ups the fun quotient as it makes the steering firmer and more alert. The engine is kept boiling constantly around 2,000 rpm, even if you ease off the gas it’s quick to down-shift and maintain the revs.
Having the MQB underpinnings also helps the Tiguan get sedan-like driving dynamics. There are no wallowing and pitching characteristics of most large SUVs. In fact, it feels like any other VW sedan, with slightly higher CG. So you don ’t have to say a silent prayer every time you drive fast through a series of bends as this SUV weaves through without you having to battle uncontrollable body-roll.
The highlight has to be the sorted ride quality. Like most European cars it’s tuned to be slightly firm yet compliant. The firmness can be felt more on the rear bench, but it’s not really uncomfortable. It trots over most of the road bumps and undulations without unsettling the occupants. More importantly, it feels extremely safe and secure even while driving fast on highways.
The Tiguan is an ideal famil y car. It’s safe, ha s all the features one could desire, the new engine is efficient and clean, and the overall quality can withstand the test of time. There’s just no dou bt about the ability of this fiveseater crossover. The only chink in the armour is the price which makes it more expensive than direct competition like the Hyundai Tucson, which is about Rs 6 lakh cheaper. And the fact that one can buy something much bigger like the Toyota Fortuner or the Ford Endeavour offering more seating capacity and offroad ability for the same price gives it a bit of a disadvantage. As mentioned earlier, the Tiguan will appeal to a niche market who appreciates the inherent Volkswagen quality and restrained styling, and are willing to pay a premium for it.
It can do a fair bit of offroading, inspite of a low 149-mm ground clearance Elegant all-black interior could do with some more colour Seats can be reclined further. There’s also a pair of tables for added convenience
Great visibility from the panoramic sun-roof; also comes lined with LED lights