STEPPING UP: VW RINGS THE CHANGES FOR HANDSOME NEW TIGUAN SUV
The old Tiguan was a good car. The new one is even better. Ed Wiseman puts Volkswagen’s third-favourite baby to the test to find out how the mid-sized family SUV has been transformed
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 the Tiguan’s interior one of the most upto-date in its sector. All of this is a huge improvement on the already-good Tiguan, which had just begun to feel a bit dated.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
The Tiguan’s chiselled, Germanic fea- tures 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. >>
The VW badge is still an upmarket choice. The new 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. But it’s not a Volkswagen!
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
There’s more room in the Tiguan than before. Legroom has been improved, Door bins are large and storage is generally excellent throughout the cabin.
The boot can theoretically 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 off-road challenges. It will never compare with a well-driven Range Rover, but the ground clearance, fourwheel-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 on the Tiguan. 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 higher-end choice, carefully positioned above most of its real competitors and with an options list that threatens to push it into a daunting price bracket.
WHO WOULD BUY ONE?
The Tiguan’s technology, safety features and eye-catching looks make it a great choice for families. It’s cost means the model is likely to continue to attract mainly well-heeled buyers who want the reassurance and comfort of the Volkswagen brand. 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.