EX­OTIC UR­BAN AN­I­MALS

The lat­est Tiguan is more than a notch above its pre­de­ces­sor – it is so com­plete that it ac­tu­ally ri­vals pre­mium mod­els.

Torque (Singapore) - - GROUP TEST -

WWHENEVER you hear the term “ex­otic car”, you’re likely to imag­ine im­pos­si­bly sexy ma­chines pow­ered by in­cred­i­bly thirsty en­gines. Now, while there are no ex­otic cars in the mass-mar­ket seg­ment, there is one model whose name sounds rather out­landish: the Tiguan. In­tro­duced a decade ago, the Tiguan’s name is a com­bi­na­tion of “tiger” and “iguana”. Hear­ing this im­me­di­ately evokes im­ages of a jun­gle-bash­ing sports util­ity ve­hi­cle (SUV).

With its tall stance, mus­cu­lar body and square wheel arches, the first-gen Tiguan cer­tainly looks the part. How­ever, most Tiguan own­ers prob­a­bly just use their SUV to con­quer con­crete forests, and per­haps an un­paved carpark or two. Volk­swa­gen con­cluded that since most Tiguans won’t be driven off-road, it would be bet­ter to make the sec­ond-gen model look more re­fined and less out­wardly ma­cho.

This is not to say that the new Tiguan looks fem­i­nine. On the con­trary, the Tiguan is still very mas­cu­line. Its wider grille, sharper lines and less bul­bous wheel arches all con­trib­ute to this.

The lat­est Tiguan lit­er­ally has more road pres­ence, too, thanks to its larger di­men­sions. The new model is 60mm longer, 33mm lower and 30mm wider than be­fore. Its wheel­base has also been stretched by 77mm for in­creased in­te­rior space.

Hav­ing driven the pre­vi­ous Tiguan over the years, it’s hard for me not to be im­pressed by the new one. The new and old

mod­els are as dif­fer­ent as night and day.

Al­though the pre­vi­ous Tiguan’s cabin is durable and func­tional, it is also un­ex­cit­ing. Luck­ily, the R-Line model we tested has a flat-bot­tom steer­ing wheel and al­loy ped­als, which en­thu­si­asts will def­i­nitely ap­pre­ci­ate. Very few among them, how­ever, will like the old Tiguan’s seat­ing po­si­tion and air-con vents. Un­less you’re around 1.8m tall, the pre­vi­ous Tiguan and its higher dash­board could be chal­leng­ing.

More in­fu­ri­at­ing than chal­leng­ing are the small round air-con vents. Even after con­stant fid­dling, I could never get the air­flow in the di­rec­tion I wanted. They irked me the first time I drove the Tiguan back in 2008, and they still irk me to­day. The new Tiguan, on the other hand, is pleas­ing from the mo­ment I set­tle into the driver’s seat.

This R-Line vari­ant (a 1.4-litre High­line ver­sion is also avail­able) comes with a host of bells and whis­tles. The most im­pres­sive of th­ese is the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment panel called Ac­tive Info Display.

In­stead of star­ing at ana­logue gauges, you’re mes­merised by sharp graph­ics and at­trac­tive colours. There’s even adap­tive cruise con­trol and a head-up display (the first VW model in Sin­ga­pore with this fea­ture) for added con­ve­nience.

To help with park­ing ma­noeu­vres, the car comes with an Area View func­tion, which gives driv­ers a bird’s-eye view of the ve­hi­cle. How­ever, with more fea­tures come more set­tings to ad­just. If you’re not too IT-savvy, it’ll take longer to get to grips with the new Tiguan than the pre­vi­ous one, which has sim­pler and more in­tu­itive menus.

Space-wise, the lat­est Tiguan is more ac­com­mo­dat­ing be­cause of its roomier backseat. Thanks to the longer wheel­base, rear oc­cu­pants get more legroom and in­creased back­rest re­cline an­gles as well. Fur­ther im­prov­ing pas­sen­ger com­fort is the ad­di­tional cli­mate zone be­hind. Had VW added a fourth zone, the Tiguan would

Road trips are less fun in the old Tiguan, as it has less space and lacks a third cli­mate zone. Old Tiguan’s cock­pit feels sportier, but its higher dash­board and lower seat­ing po­si­tion only ben­e­fit taller driv­ers.

THE NEW TIGUAN IS QUICKER THAN THE OLDER ONE DE­SPITE WEIGH­ING 173KG MORE.

have been on a par with lux­ury SUVs.

Al­though dated, the pre­vi­ous Tiguan is no slouch in the per­for­mance depart­ment. The test-car, which has a tur­bocharged 2-litre mo­tor that churns out 210bhp and 280Nm, can sprint from zero to 100km/h in a re­spectable 7.3 sec­onds.

The lat­est model also has a tur­bocharged 2-litre 4-pot, but this unit de­liv­ers 220bhp and 350Nm, or 10bhp and a sig­nif­i­cant 70Nm more than be­fore. This ex­tra oomph lets the new VW SUV com­plete the cen­tury sprint in 6.5 sec­onds, or 0.8 of a sec­ond quicker than be­fore.

What’s re­ally im­pres­sive, though, is that the new Tiguan is quicker than the older one de­spite weigh­ing 173kg more. With all its stan­dard good­ies, the lat­est model tips the scales at a hefty 1862kg.

How­ever, this added per­for­mance isn’t re­ally felt by the driver, be­cause the new Tiguan is a lot more re­fined than be­fore. With its stiffer body and bet­ter sound insulation, you can’t even hear the en­gine un­less you stretch it close to its rev limit.

In the pre­vi­ous model, the mo­tor is au­di­ble once you rev it past 3000rpm.

Re­fine­ment aside, the new Tiguan’s power de­liv­ery is a lot smoother, too. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is pro­gres­sive, un­like in the pre­vi­ous model which has some turbo lag.

The old model’s lighter mass, how­ever, makes it more chuck­able around cor­ners than the new one. In some ways, it sort of feels like a Mk 6 GTI – al­beit on stilts.

True to its more gen­tle­manly na­ture, the new Tiguan doesn’t re­ward en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ers. Al­though its lower cen­tre of grav­ity and wider body make it feel more planted, the lat­est model is bi­ased to­wards oc­cu­pant com­fort in­stead of driv­ing plea­sure.

For added flex­i­bil­ity, the new Tiguan has a drive mode se­lec­tor, which of­fers Com­fort, Nor­mal, Sport and Cus­tom set­tings.

I pre­fer the last mode, which is ideal for ev­ery­day driv­ing, since I could leave the pow­er­train in a sportier and more re­spon­sive set­ting while opt­ing for a more pli­ant set­ting for the dampers.

If you do have plans to take the Tiguan off-road, the lat­est model also of­fers Snow, Of­fRoad and Off-Road Cus­tom drive set­tings. Hav­ing driven this SUV on a spe­cially con­structed off-road course, I can safely say that with the right tyres and proper driv­ing tech­nique, it’ll be able to han­dle muddy hills and large pot­holes with ease.

In com­par­i­son, the pre­vi­ous model only has one other drive mode – “S” or Sport, so it’s clear that it is more at home on the road than off it.

The lat­est Tiguan is an “ex­otic an­i­mal” be­cause it is rare for a mass-mar­ket SUV to be this pol­ished. It builds on the strengths of its pre­de­ces­sor by be­ing sportier, roomier and more re­fined than ever.

In fact, in R-Line spec, it is ac­tu­ally even more com­pelling than the 2-litre Audi Q3.

APRIL 2017

New Tiguan’s 2-litre unit is sur­pris­ingly more ef­fi­cient than be­fore, de­spite hav­ing to pull more weight.

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