Hugely pop­u­lar pre­mium crossover fi­nally rolls out in In­dia

Car India - - CONTENTS -

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

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