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

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - ED WISE­MAN

WHAT’S NEW?

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.

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