Karkloof, KwaZulu Natal - Volkswagen’s new Tiguan Allspace, launched in South Africa this week, is essentially a Tiguan ‘XL’ with seating for seven occupants, although it must be said off the bat that those third row chairs are really just for kids.
To delve into the specifics, the Tiguan Allspace is 215mm longer than the regular Tiguan, with 110mm of that added to the wheelbase. Even with all three rows in place, the Tiguan still offers 230 litres of boot space, which is about the same as what you get in a small city car - enough for an average shopping spree but far short of what you’d need for a seven-person holiday, in which case you’d need to hitch a trailer to the back.
You’re also not going to squeeze seven rugby props into this vehicle - those third-row seats won’t even fit normal-sized adults or teens unless the sliding middle-row seats are moved forward. Do that and everyone can squeeze in for that quick hop to the soccer match across town, just with minimal legroom and tight headroom at the very back.
This is as much as you could expect at this end of the SUV market, however - this is a stretched version of a compact SUV, much like its closest rival the Nissan X-Trail is to its smaller Qashqai sibling. It’s not a Volvo XC90 alternative and nor is it pretending to be.
If you want more stretching, packing and throwing-a-ball-around space for this kind of money - R463 400 to R604 800 in the Allspace’s case (see full price list below) - then you need to look at a Caddy Maxi or a Kombi. But if you want the SUV style and MQB-platform sophistication inherent in the latest Tiguan, then the Allspace gives you just that, but with some extra flexibility.
When you’re not ferrying half the soccer team across town, those third-row seats fold flat to give you a pretty darn useful 700 litre boot (up from the regular Tiguan’s 520), and if you fold the middle row too then you’ll have 1777 litres at your furniture hauling disposal.
The rest of the package is largely as per the normal-wheelbase Tiguan, although there are some minor styling tweaks apart from the obvious elongated rear section, such as a redesigned grille and taller bonnet, and the Allspace also gets a unique engine option.
The range kicks off with a Trendline derivative powered by the familiar 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre TSI motor, which drives the front wheels through a six-speed DSG automated gearbox.
Next up is the mid-spec Comfortline, which comes standard with 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system, while offering the choice between petrol and diesel power.
The petrol engine, unique to the Tiguan Allspace, is a 132kW, 320Nm version of VW’s 2-litre turbopetrol, while the oil burning option is the familiar 2.0 TDI with outputs of 110kW and 340Nm. Both motors are mated to a seven-speed DSG, as is the range-topping Highline model, which comes with the 162kW/350Nm 2.0 TSI turbopetrol.
The Trendline has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg, while all other variants are rated for 2500kg.
I drove both 2.0 TSI variants at the Allspace launch in the KZN Midlands, and was impressed with the general refinement of the two engines and the respective DSG gearboxes, but it must be borne in mind that with kerb weights averaging around 1800kg, the engines to have to work somewhat harder than they do in the equivalent Golfs. Thus the 162kW 2.0 TSI is a fairly effortless overtaker, but it’s a far cry from that GTI that the 'new and more responsible’ you might be trading in for this, while the 132kW version offers adequate performance for the everyday driver, but you will need to mash that pedal at times.
The Tiguan Allspace interior is stylish and beautifully crafted, and also comes with more features.
Over and above what you already get in the standard-wheelbase equivalent, for instance, the entry-level Allspace Trendline comes with LED daytime running lights, a Light and Visibility Package that includes auto-dimming mirrors, auto headlights and wipers and high beam assist, granite grey underbody protection and privacy glass for the rear and side windows.
Comfortline derivatives gain an electrically-operated tailgate, LED headlights with dynamic cornering lights and Hill Descent Assist. The Highline adds 18-inch alloys, a silver front spoiler, ambient lighting as well as keyless locking and starting.
As for infotainment, the Trendline and Comfortline are fitted as standard with the 16.5cm Composition Colour touchscreen, while the Highline gets the 20.3cm Composition Media with App-Connect (including Apple CarPlay) and voice control.
Buyers can opt for the 23.3cm Discover Pro Nav infotainment system with gesture control, as one of many optional extras for those with deeper pockets.
These include the 31.2cm ‘Active Info Display’ digital instrument panel, head-up display, adaptive cruise control with city emergency braking and Trailer Assist.
Furthermore, Comfortline and Highline models can be beefed up for rougher roads with an Off-road exterior package that includes additional engine underbody protection and improved approach angle. Alternatively, you could slick it up for urban roads with the R-Line pack that brings sportier bumpers, sportier wheels (19” Sebring on Comfortline and 20” Suzuka on Highline) and black interior rooflining.
All Tiguans hit the streets with a three-year/120 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.