Feel­ing wealthy?

Volk­swa­gen Tiguan 1.4 TSI DSG Com­fort­line

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Shake Down - Words by Andy Leu­terio Pho­tog­ra­phy by Vincent Coscol­luela

VW’s seg­ment con­tender is now bet­ter equipped to face the com­pe­ti­tion

Could a Tiguan be your next SUV? That de­pends on whether you feel that P2.259 mil­lion for a com­pact cross­over is worth your time and con­sid­er­a­tion. Af­ter all, that amount lets you bring home any topflight sport ute from Ja­pan or South Korea, with enough change left over for ac­ces­sories.

Volk­swa­gen may have yet to pen­e­trate the lo­cal mar­ket like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi have, but we’re see­ing more of its hand­some au­to­mo­biles th­ese days (I think the Pas­sat is rather fetch­ing, tbh). It has the unique po­si­tion of be­ing the ‘en­trylevel’ lux­ury seg­ment: ex­pen­sive, but not too ex­pen­sive. I sup­pose the peo­ple who buy a VW want the qual­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion a Euro­pean brand en­tails, while re­main­ing low-key. Af­ter all, the Ger­man car­maker’s fa­mil­ial ‘carved soap bar’ styling doesn’t stand out in traf­fic, un­less you’re re­ally look­ing for it.

Any­way, I eas­ily fall for the Mk2 Tiguan. It has all the same pre­mium qual­i­ties of be­fore, such as vault-like chas­sis rigid­ity, low NVH, and pre­cise han­dling for an SUV—only now in a big­ger, more use­ful, classier pack­age. My main com­plaint with the Mk1 was it felt small for such an ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cle. I loaded it up for a week­end trip and found my­self partly wish­ing I had bor­rowed my mother-in-law’s CR-V in­stead. The com­pact di­men­sions were off­set by a high roofline, which was great for head­room, but made it look rather un­gainly. Like a damn trucker hat, which is fine if your fash­ion sense in­volves look­ing like a red­neck, but not so good when ap­plied to cars.

Volk­swa­gen has lis­tened to my gripes (no, not re­ally) and done a stretch job on the Tig. The wheel­base has been stretched by 7.9cm, over­all length has grown by 5.3cm, and width has ex­panded just a bit by 3cm. Most im­por­tant, the roof is a lit­tle lower at 164.3cm ver­sus 166.6cm. The Tiguan now looks pro­por­tion­ally cor­rect, and ben­e­fits pas­sen­gers in more us­able legroom and cargo space with­out crimp­ing on head­room. From the driver seat, what’s no­tice­able is how roomy the cock­pit feels be­cause the cowl seems higher than the usual drop-out-of-view

Ja­panese style. I have to raise the seat sev­eral inches to get a good view ahead; I’m 5’8” and nor­mally put the seat in the low­est po­si­tion in most SUVs.

As luck would have it, I had the Tig for a par­tic­u­larly busy week­end of ur­ban driv­ing. While I never get the chance to take it out of town, I do spend five to six hours in the Tiguan on a Satur­day and Sun­day—enough time to sit back and ap­pre­ci­ate the sex­i­ness of the cock­pit. The VW in­te­rior aes­thetic is mostly of soft an­gles and black/gray sur­faces with satin sil­ver ac­cents. Hold­ing the steer­ing wheel and the shifter is a tac­tile plea­sure, thanks to the high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als. Nav­i­gat­ing through the mul­ti­me­dia and climate con­trols is easy with the in­te­grated touch­screen dis­play, although there’s no quick off but­ton for the A/C.

Pas­sen­gers love the space and com­fort of the seats, too. The shot­gun seat has ad­e­quate bol­sters to hold you in place with­out feel­ing like an airport bench. The back­seat af­fords lots of leg-, knee-, and head­room, and its upright po­si­tion gives pas­sen­gers a nice view out while avoid­ing that an­noy­ing knees-up stance. The up­siz­ing has also re­sulted in more cargo room such that you can fit at least two golf bags now; the Mk1’s cargo area was like an af­ter­thought. Great news for peo­ple who reg­u­larly schlep sev­eral bags to and from work (like me), or for that mad rush to De­cathlon (hey, that’s Euro­pean too, right?).

As ex­pected, the Tiguan han­dles su­perbly for an SUV—smooth, well­damped mo­tions, pre­dictable body roll, strong stop­ping power, pre­cise brak­ing and steer­ing. The front-wheel-drive vari­ant has a 1.4-liter tur­bopetrol with BlueMo­tion tech, and is rated at 148hp and 250Nm. Im­pres­sive, as it feels like a 2.0-liter! The stan­dard six-speed dual-clutch gear­box would be noth­ing to write home about, were it not for the fact that it en­ables stel­lar fuel ef­fi­ciency. In full Eco mode, the sys­tem shuts off the en­gine and runs on bat­tery power at stop­lights. It will also run on only two tiny cylin­ders if the com­puter de­cides you’ve got enough mo­men­tum and are be­ing par­tic­u­larly pussy­footed with the ac­cel­er­a­tor. This even with a mod­est load of peo­ple and cargo aboard.

Cou­pled with the ex­tremely ef­fi­cient TSI fuel-in­jec­tion tech­nol­ogy, my fuel con­sump­tion for four hours in Manila traf­fic hov­ers at 8-9km/L, and rises to 11-12km/L on the high­way. No doubt th­ese fig­ures would be even bet­ter on the open road. As it is, th­ese numbers run close to what you could get with a modern CRDi—but with lower NVH fig­ures. Whether you’re driv­ing the Tiguan hard or not, you never hear or feel much ef­fort from the en­gine other than a muted hum be­yond the fire­wall at low revs.

At the end of my test pe­riod, I find my­self wish­ing I have the fi­nan­cial where­withal to af­ford and main­tain a Tiguan. It may not be the au­to­matic first choice of lux­ury SUV buy­ers (let alone SUV buy­ers, in gen­eral) given the no-small-con­cern of long-term main­te­nance com­pared with a Ja­panese SUV, but that’s where the lux­ury part comes in: Be­ing truly rich means not hav­ing to care about such con­cerns. The new Tiguan in­dulges the wealthy buyer with a high level of so­phis­ti­ca­tion, while re­main­ing pleas­ingly low-key and all but in­vis­i­ble to the masses.

Lower, longer, and bet­ter aero ef­fi­ciency

V-Dub is all about qual­ity with­out be­ing too flashy

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