By: Andrew Leopold
Volkswagen Golf owners who have outgrown the hatchback’s practicality and somewhat limited sense of adventure will now find it more difficult to leave the Volkswagen family. Launched in South Africa this week, the latest Tiguan finds itself up against a bevy of colourful new competitors in one of the few segments still showing consistent growth.
One can sense early on that the new Tiguan follows some very established guidelines and while that might mean less flamboyance, it guarantees a resolved product devoid of quirky annoyances. The strict corporate narrative adds much-needed testosterone to its presence.
The effect is striking. The predecessor’s flabby design is now crisper and alleviates much of that top-heaviness, giving this longer, wider and lower model the attitude and poise often associated with an engaging drive. Aside from the planted look, the Tiguan’s larger proportions narrow the gap to the flagship Touareg while increasing the car’s perceived value when it comes to practicality and comfort.
Volkswagen’s first SUV to be based on the MQB modular platform means a certain mechanical bond with the company’s passenger cars but owners will revel in the increased torsional rigidity and lower mass. It’s a recipe that translates well when presented with sudden direction changes and Tiguan’s feeling of stability and safety as a family car is of utmost relevance.
A bit sombre inside
A raised seating position, which affords a commanding view ahead, is disappointingly coupled to the same predictable switchgear. Compared to the exterior’s major revamp, these sombre tones and materials lack the visual excitement even when the options list has been generously ticked. On a positive note, getting acquainted and comfortable in the roomier cabin takes mere seconds helped by a design that still recognises that buttons for some functions are more intuitive to use than touchscreen menus for everything.
By fractionally tweaking the position of the second row seating, the latest Tiguan almost moves into a higher SUV bracket. The ingenious packaging means that the boot has a benchmark capacity of 615-litres – drop the rear seats and this swells to 1665-litres. If rear legroom is of higher importance, the split rear seat can slide 180mm along its rails.
The Tiguan’s bigger dimensions are barely noticeable from behind the wheel with a satisfying level of feedback and composure while electronic systems like ESP in tandem with XDS differential lock are usually too subtle to notice when allied to this competent chassis. Considering the diverse market Tiguan will bridge, the dynamic poise is carefully judged and provides something for everyone.
Suffice to say that if the budget can be stretched there are entertainment and connectivity features galore. A well-equipped Tiguan will include the 12.3-inch Active Info Display as the must-have feature and the customisable menus, in conjunction with the optional heads-up display, are causing traditional static instrument clusters to become obsolete.
Familiar engines, more coming
There’s not a dud in the familiar suite of turbocharged 4-cylinder engines with even the base 92kW/200Nm 1.4-litre TSI, paired with the six-speed manual, delivering athletic performance. The same engine comes in a 110kW/250Nm version and pseudo GTI performance will arrive early next year courtesy of the 162kW 2.0 TSI. Representing the diesel range is the 2.0-litre TDI tuned to 81kW, 105kW or 130kW – also set for an early 2017 debut.
Name any fuel saving technology from start/stop to battery regenerative systems and in some cases cylinder deactivation and the BlueMotion engines come very close to matching the efficiency of a small city car.
With a large selection of wheel sizes paired with either front or 4Motion all-wheel drive (105kW, 130kW and 162kW variants only), Tiguan’s road or dirt bias can be shifted slightly. That said the modest ride height and omission of body protection should be taken as a sign and the optional R-Line package with 19-inch wheels should be avoided if your intention is to get off the main road.
The new Tiguan might be Volkswagen’s junior SUV on paper but so comprehensive is the package that not once does it feel inferior to models that cost significantly more. With the complete engine range due early in 2017, the perfect combination could still be coming.
1.4 TSI 92kW Trendline Manual - R378 000
1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline Manual - R419000
1.4 TSI 110kW Comfortline DSG - R457 680
All Tiguans come standard with a five-year/90 000km Service Plan, and three-year/120 000km warranty. Service Intervals are every 15 000km.
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