TRIBAL TRANS­PORT

TIGUAN ALL SPACE JOINS THE OC­CA­SIONAL SEVEN-SEATERS

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - CRAIG DUFF

Own­ing a mod­ern car is all about ver­sa­til­ity. Some want the abil­ity to travel off-road, even if their ver­sion of off-road­ing in­volves pit­ted gravel tracks; some want cargo ca­pac­ity and some want seat­ing ca­pac­ity.

The Volk­swa­gen Tiguan Allspace cov­ers all of the above bases and slots — be­lat­edly — into a mar­ket where 5+2-seat SUVs have in­creas­ingly gained trac­tion.

This is VW’s first seven-seat SUV and it lever­ages the in­te­rior qual­ity of the Tiguan with the prac­ti­cal­ity of an SUV that can haul a host of adults or help shift house. The 109mm longer wheel­base en­dows an ex­tra 60mm of legroom and 54mm of knee room. Who isn’t go­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate that?

The pop­u­lar­ity isn’t hard to as­sess — the Allspace gives own­ers the free­dom to carry a reg­u­lar two adult, two kid con­fig­u­ra­tion with a mas­sive boot space or flip up the pair of thirdrow seats and let the kids bring play­mates home af­ter school.

Aussies are in­creas­ingly real­is­ing their bush­bash­ing as­pi­ra­tions amount to melaleuca branches brush­ing the side mir­rors on a dirt road and the Allspace will eas­ily ac­com­mo­date that.

Just ig­nore the fact the drive modes in­clude off-road set­tings be­yond the de­fault snow mode that most peo­ple re­ally won’t want to test (but they’ll boast of their ve­hi­cle’s ca­pa­bil­ity).

VW Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Michael Bartsch talks up the Allspace as “a pre­mium SUV that is priced well below the lux­ury car tax thresh­old”.

“As has been the case with the nor­mal wheel­base Tiguan, the sin­gle best-sell­ing Tiguan Allspace vari­ant will be the 162TSI High­line — al­most half of over­all take up. Some 70 per cent of these cus­tomers will also take up the R-Line op­tion,” Bartsch says.

Plau­dits go to the Allspace for not rid­ing as high as some com­peti­tors — few seven-seat soft-roader own­ers will tackle much more than a rain-rut­ted gravel road. The Allspace by com­par­i­son has a solid road­hold­ing abil­ity yet can still deal with bush tracks.

Sadly for VW, among the ri­vals is the re­lated Skoda Kodiaq SUV, de­rived from the same plat­form and our cur­rent Car of the Year.

The Kodiaq has a big­ger lug­gage area, more rear room and is cheaper but it can’t match the VW for in­te­rior qual­ity or stan­dard fea­tures. You get what you pay for.

In the case of the Allspace that equates to a pre­mium of about $3000 over the Kodiaq. In VW’s favour, the soft-touch plas­tics are play­dough push­able, the in­fo­tain­ment screen is one of the best in the busi­ness and, in 162TSI guise, the dig­i­tal dis­play screen is hard to fault.

There are five ver­sions of the Tiguan Allspace, start­ing at $40,490 for the Com­fort­line (110kW/250Nm, front-wheel drive) with power tail­gate, LED head­lamps, eight-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, three-zone cli­mate con­trol (but no third row vents), full­house ac­tive safety soft­ware, 18-inch al­loy wheels and park­ing sen­sors front and rear.

Spend $45,490 on the 132kW/320Nm all­wheel drive ver­sion and the dual-clutch auto adds a seventh ra­tio. For an­other $1000, you get the 110kW/340Nm diesel AWD.

High­line ver­sions start at $52,990 for the 162kW/350Nm petrol en­gine or $54,490 for the 140kW/400Nm diesel. In­clu­sions are a 9.2-inch dis­play, am­bi­ent in­te­rior light­ing, adap­tive cruise and chas­sis con­trol, leather up­hol­stery and heated seats in the front and outer pews in the sec­ond row.

Metal­lic or pearl-ef­fect paint adds $700. Be­yond that, op­tion packs run to four fig­ures, with the in-de­mand R-Line Pack adding spe­cific bumpers and sills, 20-inch al­loys, black leather up­hol­stery, metal ped­als and pad­dleshifters for $2900. Hav­ing sat in this one, I would prob­a­bly spend the coin.

ON THE ROAD

The longer wheel­base makes the Allspace slightly less nim­ble than the reg­u­lar Tiguan around cor­ners. I defy own­ers to no­tice the dif­fer­ence — it is ev­i­dent only at a pace that will sicken rear oc­cu­pants. And that’s not the rationale that led you to the Allspace in the first place. In most con­di­tions, the longer wheel­base does a bet­ter job of deal­ing with bumps and lumps on the road.

That’s true of the 162kW/350Nm High­line R-Line we tested, where the com­bi­na­tion of adap­tive dampers and a po­tent en­gine gives driv­ers scope to cruise or crank it up.

In this seg­ment, the big­gest as­set isn’t out­right han­dling but the abil­ity to han­dle the needs of those aft of the driver. And the VW rates highly here.

There are sep­a­rate con­trols for the rear air­con and seat heat­ing, ad­justable air vents, flip-up ta­bles, a 12V socket and USB port. The back seat bases are flat but there’s head and leg room to ac­com­mo­date tall adults eas­ily.

The same can’t be said of the third row seats, which — as in most oc­ca­sional seven-seaters — are kid-only af­fairs. Lug­gage ca­pac­ity is 230L with all seats in use, climb­ing to an im­pres­sive 700L with the back seats folded down. The cargo bay also con­tains a re­mov­able torch, shop­ping bag hook, un­der­floor stor­age for the lug­gage screen and a 12V out­let.

Safety is the other key con­sid­er­a­tion when cart­ing the fam­ily and the stretched Tiguan in­her­its the stan­dard SUV’s five-star safety rat­ing. Seven airbags pro­tect the oc­cu­pants, with the cur­tains ex­tend­ing through to the third row. Stan­dard gear in­cludes au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, lane de­par­ture and blindspot warn­ing.

The dual-clutch auto works flaw­lessly up and down the ra­tios once un­der way but can in­ter­mit­tently hes­i­tate when ac­cel­er­at­ing from a stand­still at city lights. It is frus­trat­ingly in­con­sis­tent — loop back to the same bit of bi­tu­men and the Allspace won’t re­peat the mis­de­meanour.

That’s about the only blem­ish on the VW’s copy­book. The steer­ing re­sponds quickly to in­puts with­out giv­ing a huge amount of feed­back — and my wife will ar­gue that’s how seven-seaters should be set up, given driv­ers are usu­ally fo­cused as in­tently as what’s hap­pen­ing in the car as to what’s go­ing on out­side.

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