VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN

SPACE, SOPHISTICATION AND LUST FOR DRIVING ULTIMATELY UNDONE BY VARIABLE VALUE EQUATION

ALEX INWOOD

ARGER, smarter and more dynamically appealing than its now faded predecessor, Volkswagen’s second-gen Tiguan brings Golf-like polish and refinement to the cut-throat, and booming, mid-size SUV segment.

Oozing a newfound confidence and showroom appeal, the Tiguan impressed even before it turned a wheel at COTY. As the first SUV to switch to VW’s modular transverse MQB architecture, Tiguan V2.0’s most obvious improvement is the boost in comfort and practicality gleaned from increased dimensions all round, including a wheelbase stretched by 77mm. It has officially grown from a small into a medium-sized SUV, though significantly, weight is actually down in almost every variant (by up to 53kg).

The packaging is clever too, ensuring the Tiguan makes the most of its new space, with a plethora of useful storage cubbies (with damped lids!) and a “fabulous second row”, as one judge described it, that reclines and slides fore-and-aft to increase boot space to a vast 615 litres when pushed all the way forward.

It’s not all barebones practicality and utility, either. The Tiguan’s cabin ambience, even in base 110TSI guise, is a highlight, with an airy (if unimaginative) design, quality materials, and a keen attention to detail that stretches to flocked door pockets, a rich mix of textures, and rear air vents.

There’s also oodles of worthwhile equipment.

All variants score an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera and auto wipers and headlights, plus MQB’s plethora of active-safety systems, headlined by standard AEB, lane-departure warning, seven airbags and a pedestrianprotecting active bonnet.

The downside to this heavy emphasis on quality and high standard specification is a premium price tag. Unlike popular Asian rivals which start below $30K, the least expensive Tiguan begins at $31,990 in L front-drive, six-speed manual 110TSI guise, or $34,490 for the smooth-shifting, and undoubtedly more popular, six-speed DSG.

Yet despite generous amounts of gear, some spec irregularities, like the lack of electric seats in the volume-selling 132TSI 4motion ($41,490) and the lumping of crucial equipment, such as adaptive dampers, into expensive optional packages, had the judges questioning the Tiguan’s elitism. As Nathan Ponchard quipped after climbing into our test 132TSI Comfortline for the first time, “It doesn’t feel like $44K!”

Less contentious is how the Tiguan drives.

Offered with a convincing suite of five turbo engines (see breakout), every Tiguan provides a zest and dynamic verve uncommon for this category of SUV. The accurate and wellweighted steering deserves particular praise and contributes to handling that is fluid, poised, and at times even fun, regardless of whether you’re in the base front-driver or the all-wheel-drive $50K 140TDI Highline flagship.

And yet despite this driver appeal, the dynamic chink in the Tiguan’s armour is how it rides. Every judge noted that all variants provided for COTY testing felt overly firm, and while the suspension does absorb larger bumps with control, it’s pattery and unsettled on rough surfaces. As father of two Mike Duff noted, “Ride quality is poor and at a frequency I predict will quickly turn it into the chuckup express with younger occupants.” Adding adaptive dampers does improve things, though they’re part of a $4000 R-Line package that is only available on the top-spec Highline.

Likewise if you want a sunroof on a Comfortline – boom, five-grand package!

So despite its benchmark safety kit, and its ability to neatly bridge the gap between mainstream medium SUVs and more premium offerings, the Tiguan’s unresolved ride and spec anomalies saw it falter at the final COTY hurdle. As Ponchard succinctly put it: “The space, refinement and polish are all there, but it needs options to truly kick goals.”

VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN

BODY Type 5-door wagon, 5 seats L/W/H 4486/1839/ 1648 – 1658mm Wheelbase 2681mm Track 1576 – 1582mm (f); 1566 – 1572mm (r) Boot capacity 615 litres Weight 1430 – 1691kg DRIVETRAIN Layout front engine (east-west), FWD/AWD Engines 1395cc 4cyl turbo (110kW/250Nm); 1984cc 4cyl turbo (132kW/320Nm); 1968cc 4cyl turbo-diesel (110kW/340Nm); 1968cc 4cyl turbo-diesel; (140kW/400Nm) Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed dual-clutch; 7-speed dual-clutch CHASSIS Brakes ventilated discs (f), solid discs (r) Tyres 215/65R17 – 255/40R20 Spare space-saver ADR81 fuel consumption 5.9 – 7.5L/100km CO2 emissions 138 – 173g/km Front airbags Side airbags Curtain airbags Knee airbags Collision mitigation Crash rating 5-stars (Euro NCAP) Prices $31,990 – $49,990 3-year retained value 50 – 58% Service interval 12 months/15,000km

F I V E T I M E S F OU R

There is no obvious weakness in the Tiguan’s suite of refined, hyper-efficient turbo four-pots. There are five to choose – three petrols and two diesels – starting with sweet 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbo the only engine offering a slick are mated to a six- or VW’s EA888 in the 132TSI 350Nm the 162TSI, pair of smooth 140kW/400Nm) d, ose from h a pleasantly four-pot in the 110TSI. It’s ck six-speed manual ’box; others r seven-speed dual-clutch. Two tunes of 2.0-litre unit follow: the 132kW/320Nm u i 32TSI and a GTI-spec 162kW/350Nmv TSI, which wasn’t available in ti mooth 2.0-litre diesels 00Nm) compl es Nm unit 0Nm version in ble time for COTY. A (110kW/340Nm and complete the line-up.

“HANDLING HAS FLUENT CONTROL AND INVOLVING POISE” H CO INVOL

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

“THE GOLF OF SUVs. AND THAT MEANS VERY GOOD”

JOHN CAREY