It’ll be here early next year. We drive VW’s new compact SUV
TTHEY HAVE BEEN talking about bringing the Tiguan to India for years but so far, nothing has happened. This new Tiguan however is coming for sure and it will be here early 2017. When it gets to India, it will go up against other soft roaders like the Hyundai Santa Fe and the upcoming Nissan X-Trail Hybrid. So, now that you know how much it will cost (around `30 lakh), what exactly should you look forward to? Two days in Berlin, on and off the road paints a better picture.
It looks smart, handsome and understated. It isn’t as flashy as a Santa Fe, but then again, we know from experience that VW’s designs age way better than anything else. They stand the test of time very well and the more you look at it, the more you notice the details that make it look so smart. Details like the intricate chrome strips, the all-LED headlamps, the strong shoulder line are what make it look so elegant. They even have two types of bumpers for the Tiguan. The on-road one (which we drove) and an off-road one that offers slightly better approach angles while looking more butch.
VW says that despite the increase in dimensions – the new Tiguan is considerably longer in terms of wheelbase and overall length – it weighs 18kg less than the old Tiguan would have in similar spec and size thanks to the use of lots of high strength, low weight construction techniques. It is after all, VW’s first SUV on the MQB platform.
The insides feel as well built as any VW north of the current Jetta. The magic happens when you turn on the ignition – the new instrument console is completely digital and is similar to the Virtual Cockpit in the new Audi Q7 and TT. A highresoution colour map occupies pride of place and is flanked by a digital speedo/tachometer combination. Our car had a heads-up display, an intuitive touchscreen driver interface and a lot of angles built into the design. The air-con vents for example are hexagonal, the cover for the cupholders between the front seats is angular and there’s the now de rigueur flat-bottomed steering wheel. There’s lots of piano black surfaces and overall the insides feel rich, well built and comfortable.
There’s lots of space as well and the new seats are very comfortable. Open the electrically operated tailgate and you get 615 litres of boot space and there’s the option of sliding the rear seats forward to get even more space for luggage.
Is it fun to drive?
Okay, so there are plenty of engine and drivetrain options available in Germany. For India though, we expect VW’s mainstay 2.0 TDI – there’s 148bhp and 188bhp versions – mated to the seven-speed DSG and a Haldex all-wheel drive system. We got our hands on the front-wheel drive 148bhp 2-litre TDI that had a six-speed manual and though it’s not the expected spec for India, it is still a good pointer as to what to expect.
The 2-litre TDI has been reworked and is much quieter as a result. Sure, you can still hear some diesel drone, but once on the move, it revs noticeably quieter than the current engine in India. That clutch is still tricky to modulate when you are starting off and you can stall the engine if you are not careful but the cool thing is, there’s an auto-start feature that restarts the engine if you dip the clutch back in quickly. The engine is really responsive and has great low- and mid-range torque and that is what gives the Tiguan its nip. The gearshift is nice and snappy and executing smooth shifts is a cinch.
On Germany’s derestricted autobahns the Tiguan was utterly stable and completely at home at high speeds and when we did pull off into forest roads the handling (even on this two-wheel drive version) was very secure. The driving experience is a lot like that of the Jetta in the sense that you enjoy the security and effortlessness that it displays rather than get involved in steering feedback and seat of the pants driving. There’s lots of grip, the steering is accurate, and body control is excellent and that is what allows you to get to, and maintain great cross-country average speeds.
Around town, you can dial up the ‘comfort’ driving mode where the steering goes light and that, along with the Tiguan’s compact dimensions, makes it an easy vehicle to pilot.
Like the Jetta, it can feel mildly firm at lower speeds but that disappears when you start going fast. There’s little that can deflect a fast moving Tiguan from its intended line of travel.
The engine is really responsive and has great lowand mid-range torque giving the Tiguan its nippy performance
Well, we don’t suppose a lot of owners will take it off-road but we did put it through an off-road track with articulation mounds, inclines, descents and side slopes. We got the all-wheel drive version for this and it has an additional dial down by the gearlever that lets you choose between ‘snow’, ‘road’ and ‘off-road’ modes. In the latter, the car adjusts the ESP, engine response and ABS as well as activates Hill Descent control. The track was custom made for the Tiguan so it threw up no surprises but, what was obvious, was that it can climb a 40-degree incline without fuss, can lean over (without rolling over) till your passenger squeals in fright and the all-wheel drive system works with a bit of delay over the articulation mounds. It is a front-biased system in the sense that the front wheels have to start losing grip before power is sent to the rear wheels.
As for the hill descent, when the car senses that it is on a downward slope, all you have to do to set a comfortable descent speed is to tap the brakes when you are at the desired speed. The system will maintain that speed for you. Should you buy one?
Overall, the Tiguan is a great allrounder. There’s little to fault with it – it rides well, handles securely, has a great engine and feels rich and comfortable. Believe me, there’s a lot to look forward to in the new Tiguan. But then again there was a lot to look forward to in the old Tiguan which VW threatened to bring to India (a million times!) but never followed up on. Pricing was the challenge then and we can only hope VW have sorted out the math this time round.
It can feel mildly firm at lower speeds but rides impressively flat when you start going fast
Left: VW hasn’t decided yet but India should get the 2-litre TDI with AWD and DSG. Below: Front seats are really comfortable
Left: Beautifully built, high quality interiors. Above: High-res screen and 360-degree cameras
1: Usefully big 615-litre boot and seats fold flat. 2: Engine is responsive and quiet. 3: Can’t not go to the Berlin Wall when you are in Berlin