TRENDY TIGUAN FIT FOR SELECTION
The old model was good, but the new one is even better. In Berlin, Ed Wiseman puts Volkswagen’s third-favourite baby to the test
When you think of Volkswagen, you think of Golf. The legendary family hatch has been the German brand’s best performer in the UK for years, pursued by the slightly smaller Polo. But in third place is the Tiguan, an unsung hero of Wolfsburg’s expansive range.
The latest generation of this compact SUV is based on the MQB platform that forms the foundation of the Golf and Passat, as well as other VW Group cars from Seat and Skoda. It’s been upgraded visually and borrows in-car tech from Audi, making its interior one of the most up-to-date in its sector. All of this is a huge improvement on the already-good Tiguan, which had just begun to feel dated.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
The Tiguan’s chiselled, Germanic features set it apart from more fluid-looking rivals. It’s a handsome car and has much more road presence than the outgoing generation, which didn’t benefit from Volkswagen’s current design language. Short overhangs at the front and rear are hugely beneficial off-road and add to the chunky, utilitarian aesthetic of this fundamentally road-orientated car.
The inside of the car is largely wellbuilt, but in comparison to the price tag (around £25,000 for a sensible Tiguan), the materials used are disappointing in places. Beige plastic dominates the front below knee-height, though the seats are fetching and the soft-touch plastic feels built to last.
Volkswagen’s image has been dented by its emissions scandal, but that’s unlikely to put buyers off. The VW badge is still an upmarket choice. The upcoming Seat Ateca, which is mechanically similar but has a much lower starting price, could represent better value for buyers who like the Tiguan, but aren’t fussed about brand.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
There’s more room in the Tiguan than before, but tall people will find the back seats cramped. Legroom has been improved, but avoid the flimsy plastic tables — they fill the extra space with hard plastic that will bruise the knees of your rear passengers. Door bins are large and storage is generally excellent throughout the cabin.
The boot can hold over 600 litres of luggage, depending on the exact position of the adjustable rear seats. Those rear seats can be adjusted or folded down with a tug of a small spring-loaded tab — a very user-friendly system. When the seats are folded down, the Tiguan boasts 1,655 litres of space for those occasional garden centre trips.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Volkswagen has lengthened the wheelbase of the Tiguan, making it slightly more comfortable on British roads. The Tiguan is also a few pounds lighter, with clever weight savings mitigating the added weight of all the new convenience and safety tech. Noticeably light steering suggests that the Tiguan has been optimised for urban and suburban driving.
But buyers of the 4x4 Tiguan will be pleasantly surprised at how adept their new car is at handling quite serious offroad challenges. It will never compare with a well-driven Range Rover, but the ground clearance, four-wheel-drive system and short overhangs combine to make an unnecessarily good utility vehicle. External cameras situated around the vehicle can be used to help visualise difficult terrain from the comfort of the cab, too.
An advanced infotainment system is available. The instrument binnacle is digital, visually emulating a conventional speedometer and rev counter, but with much more flexibility.
The driver can choose to display Google Maps, including satellite imagery — while this often duplicates information found on the centre console touchscreen, it’s a futuristic touch that helps maximise time spent looking at the road. A head-up display, showing the car’s current speed in comparison to the prevailing speed limit, is another driver-orientated safety improvement.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Volkswagen occupies a different market position to key rivals. The Qashqai, which continues to outsell its opposition quite convincingly, is an excellent car but has a cheaper image. Similarly, offerings from Kia and Hyundai are very competent choices, but lack badge appeal. Yet the Tiguan isn’t as posh as the Evoque or Discovery Sport — it’s somewhere in between.
Prices for the Tiguan are comfortably higher than those for the Ateca, SEAT’S Mqb-based SUV. In fact, the Tiguan is an expensive choice, carefully positioned above most of its real competitors and with an options list that threatens to push it into a daunting price bracket. The Mazda CX-5 is just as good and much cheaper.
WHO WOULD BUY ONE?
The Tiguan’s technology, safety features and eye-catching looks make it a great choice for families. It’s on the pricey side, so the model is likely to continue to attract mainly well-heeled buyers who want the reassurance of the VW brand. The 4x4 versions, likely to sell healthily in Britain, will be popular with horse owners and caravanners as well as country dwellers who need added traction in winter months.
This car summed up in a single word: trendy.
If this car was a ketchup, it would be Heinz. Functionally similar to any other ketchup, but priced and marketed in just the right way to become the obvious choice.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Volkswagen Tiguan: from £22,500. Engine: 2.0-litre diesel producing 148bhp and 340Nm. Transmission: seven-speed automatic. Performance: 124mph top speed, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. Economy: 50mpg combined. Emissions: 149g/km.