Reviewed for you: Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan sets itself apart from many key competitors by being roomier, offering better infotainment technology and a range of engine choices. It a nutshell, it offers a lot of premium European feel without the expected high price tag.
What’s the price and what do you get?
The 110TSI Trendline kicks off the range from a competitive $34,150 plus on-road costs.
It comes equipped as standard with fabric trim seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, AEB (automatic emergency braking) with pedestrian detection and lane assist.
At $38,650, the Comfortline models add 18-inch alloys, chrome roof rails, chrome exterior trims, electric tailgate, electric folding side mirrors, keyless entry with push-start ignition, overhead storage and three-zone climate control.
For an additional $4500 on that is the 132TSI, which packs a more powerful engine. But if you really want the best performance, the 162TSI borrows its engine from the Mark 7 Golf GTI and is connected to all-wheel drive. Inclusions on the top-spec Highline model are 19-inch ‘Auckland’ alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, side assist with rear-cross traffic alert, adaptive chassis control, heated front and second-row seats, Vienna leather trim and ambient interior lighting.
Options on most models are R-Line adornments from $4000, panoramic glass sunroof from $2000, driver assistance package $2000, and metallic paint from $700.
What’s the interior like?
The Tiguan offers a classy, well-constructed interior that combines comfort with relative practicality.
Volkswagen is well known for the quality of its interiors and the Tiguan cements that reputation with materials and design that blends class with hard-wearing practicality. Especially in areas like the centre console which will get pummelled by your phone, bottles, keys, coins and whatever other odds and ends you dump into the hidey holes. And the door cards are hard and scratchy plastic, but this makes sense and doesn’t detract from the overall feeling of quality; just think how many of us use our feet to push open the doors and so resistance to scuffing is more important than whether they’re soft to the touch.
The sliding rear bench means you can prioritise rear-seat legroom or boot space but can be problematic if you need both… more on this shortly. And the infotainment unit in either native form or via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity is simple to use and feature-rich.
What’s the Infotainment like?
The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit is nice and clear and can be used either with its native functionality or via VW’s AppConnect which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The touchscreen offers capacitive touch and thus reacts as soon as your finger gets close to the screen to bring up additional functionality options.
If you don’t use a connected iPhone or Android phone for sat nav (which is a great feature and includes the ability to use apps like Waze), the native system is not the brightest. On a trip to Melbourne while we were testing the Tiguan, we found that despite the ‘correct’ parameters being applied, it would always direct us through back streets; and if you ignored its instructions it would take ages to recalibrate. And the instructions delivered lacked details. We ran this system at the same time as using both Apple Maps and Google Maps, and both those systems were far superior to the Tiguan’s native sat-nav. So, it’s nice that VW has included it, but you’re better off using a smartphone-based mapping app.
Our test car also had the cost-optional Active Assistance Package fitted which meant the analogue dials were replaced with a 12.3-inch instrument display, offering customisable menus from sat-nav to music. The VW Group system is easily the best of its type.
What’s the passenger space like?
Flexible is a good way to describe it. The rear seat bench which is split 40:20:40 can be slid forwards and back (through 180mm), and when the seats are pushed all the way back, the Tiguan’s rear-seat legroom is impressive. The seatbacks can also be reclined and there are ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats, and three top tether anchors in the middle of the rear seat backs.
The rear seats are set a little higher than the front seats which means those in the back get a good view and access in or out of the back seat isn’t compromised, although younger children using a booster seat will likely require some extra help getting into the back. There are rear air vents in the back with the ability for backseat passengers to set the temperature to suit themselves, and there’s a 12V outlet for charging devices and pouches on the backs of the two front seats. And because there’s only minimal intrusion by the transmission tunnel, the middle seat in the back is usable as a seat. For an adult.
In the front and the seating position is perhaps more upright feeling than some of this car’s competitors. But that does mean you’re afforded a good view of the road ahead and indeed right around the car; the rear three quarters, so often an Achilles heel on SUVs isn’t one on the Tiguan.
What about the boot?
Over in the boot, there’s 615 litres of space with the seats pushed forwards, pushing them all the way back will obviously reduce the size of the space. Drop the seats and the space grows to more than 1600 litres. The boot offers a double height floor, in its lowest setting it’s a few centimetres below level. The boot is a nice square shape and with the rear seats sitting about half-way through their travel, there was plenty of room for our luggage.
One of the features I particularly like about the way VW does its boot floors is that it leaves a little catch that, when you lift the floor will grab and hold the floor on an angle with more than enough room to reach in and remove the spare wheel if needed. There’s a 12V socket in the back and tie-down hooks as well as big levers to drop down the rear seats.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Tiguan 110TSI comes powered by a smaller 1.4-litre turbo engine, producing 110kW and 250Nm to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Both the 132 TSI Comfortline and the 162TSI Highline deploy the class-leading EA888 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine run through a 7-speed DSG transmission and 4MOTION all-wheel-drive. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 162kW from 4500-6200rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1500-4400. This is mated to a seven-speed DSG and it matches the old GTI’s 6.5-second sprint from 0-100km/h, which says more about this car than the Golf GTI.
What’s it like on the road?
The one thing that stands out about the VW Tiguan, no matter the flavour, is just how comfortable and competent it is, and that’s exactly what you want from a family-oriented SUV.
In sporty models, the suspension set-up is a little on the stiff side which is great for maintaining composure and controlling body movements in corners, but not so great when you’re crawling across a speed hump or you hit a sharp-edged bump in the road where there’s noticeable thump-through and particularly from the front end. The trade-off is that in all other driving situations, the Tiguan feels composed and comfortable. The steering is direct and with enough weight throughout its travel that you feel connected to the front end.
Despite the 4Motion badge, the Tiguan is not an all-wheel drive in the same way that, say, a Subaru Forester is which runs a permanent, symmetrical all-wheel drive set-up. On the contrary, the Tiguan is an on-demand system (although you’ll see reference in its marketing materials to it being a permanent all-wheel drive), meaning it’s predominantly a two-wheel drive vehicle (front-drive) to improve fuel consumption, with the rear wheels coming into play when slip is detected at the front.
What about safety?
The Tiguan carries a five-star ANCAP rating based on EuroNCAP testing. It scored, and the Euro NCAP testing system notes down data differently to ANCAP, 96% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupant protection, or 41.5 out of 49, and 8.2 out of 13 for its safety assistance systems, and 26.1 out of 42 for pedestrian protection.
It comes standard with front assist with city emergency braking, active bonnet and lane assist, as well as reversing camera, seven airbags, multi-collision system and driver fatigue measurement.
The Drive Assistance Package adds things like Adaptive Cruise Control, and a 360-degree area view when parking, folding wing mirrors with automatic kerb function when reversing, meaning they angle down, and side assist with lane-changing assistant and rear traffic alert.
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