If any modern VeeDub comes close to intruding on Audi’s hallowed perceived quality turf, it has to be the new Tiguan. This applies even to the exterior design, with its sharp creases and classy chrome finishes on the window surrounds and grille. The previous Tiguan was never terrible to look at, yet somehow it just looks a bit flabby next to the second generation’s taut new shape.
The interior, as I’ve by now led you to expect, is a collage of expensive-looking materials. The design, angled slightly towards the driver, is very pleasing to the eye, but the all-grey monotone of the colour scheme does make the overall atmosphere a bit too clinical for my liking.
That said, the optional 31cm digital instrument cluster, or Active Info Display in VW-speak, does lift the mood considerably and it allows you to toy around with six different views. The display will cost you an extra R8000, but to get it you’ll also have to spend an additional R4350 upgrading to the Composition Media infotainment system, which has a 16.5cm touch-screen.
A 12.7cm touch-screen is standard in the Tiguan, along with an eight-speaker audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. For R12000 you could also have the Discover Pro system, featuring a 20cm screen and navigation.
This cabin is not just technologically at the cutting edge, it’s really practical too. It’s the first SUV to be built on VW’s MQB modular platform which also underpins the latest Golf and Passat models and, despite the fact that engineers managed to shave up to 53kg off the Tiguan’s kerb weight, it’s actually 60mm longer and 30mm wider than its predecessor. What that means for you, and more specifically your offspring, is 29mm more kneeroom in the back. There really is lots of legroom and the back seat slides back and forth so you can vary the passenger to boot space ratio by 18cm. Slide the back seats forward and the boot goes from big (520 litres) to huge (615 litres); fold them and we’re talking 1655 litres.
How comfy is the Tiguan on the road, though? Well, the ride is agreeable enough, if a little on the firm side in our test car, which was fitted with the optional (as in R18000) R-Line exterior package which includes "sports" suspension settings and 19-inch alloys with tyres which are relatively low profile by SUV standards. I got to experience the Tiguan with normal suspension and rubber at the SA Car of the Year test days and it does offer a comfier ride. For that reason I’d probably shy away from the R-Line option, nice as it makes the Tiguan look.
It does handle very well for a crossover though, but I doubt the R-Line package improves this to a degree the average driver is going to appreciate. Overall the Tiguan has a very light and agile feeling about it.
Our test car was powered by the 92kW/200Nm version of VW’s 1.4-litre TSI turbopetrol, which can only be mated to a six-speed manual. If you want the self-shifting DSG, then you have to go for the 110kW/250Nm 1.4 TSI, which also features cylinder deactivation technology. The manual gearbox feels both smooth and solid and as a result it’s a pleasure to operate. The 92kW engine does feel a little laggy though and with foot flat the vehicle doesn’t exactly feel fast, but overall it meets the kind of expectations you’ll have at this end of the segment. If not, you could always try to stretch to the 162kW 2-litre TSI 4Motion, at R542200.
You can have the 92kW model in either Trendline (R384 100), or Comfortline guise (R425 300 in base form or R443 300 with the R-Line kit as per our car), but even the base model is quite well equipped, featuring 17-inch alloys, cruise control, a leather-covered multi-function steering wheel and an eight-speaker touch-screen audio system.
Opt for Comfortline and you get a few extras, including "comfort" front seats (not sure what they’re implying about the ones on the base model), LED headlights with high beam control, park-distance control, automatic climate control, auto wipers and folding tables in the rear.
In addition to the larger touch-screens and nav system mentioned earlier, the options list includes many cool-to-have items which are not necessarily as expensive as you might have expected, at least compared to what some other German brands charge. Active cruise control can be had for R5000 and head-up display for R9000. You can also order parallel park assist with reverse camera and an electric tailgate for an additional five grand a piece, but don’t bother with the latter as it just slows you down when you’re in a hurry.
The new Tiguan is priced above most rivals, but it now has the necessary premium feel and overall refinement to back that up, to some degree at least. It raises the game in many respects. There’s also a long list of reasonably priced gadgets for those willing to spend a little extra.
Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line
Engine: 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbopetrol
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Power: 92kW @ 5000 - 6000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1400 - 4000rpm
0-100km/h (claimed): 10.5 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 190km/h
Price: R443 300
Warranty: 3-year / 120 000km
Service plan: 5-year / 90 000km
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S - 110kW/250Nm - R466 000
Honda CR-V 2.0 Elegance - 114kW/192Nm - R447 900
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium - 115kW/196Nm - R379 900
Hyundai Tucson 1.6T Executive - 130kW/265Nm - R449 900
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Dynamic - 121kW/210Nm - R377 700
Renault Kadjar 1.2T Dynamique - 96kW/205Nm - R389 900