Johannesburg - Running out of something is never fun. That sudden realisation that you didn’t get enough charcoal for the braai, or worse... enough beer. It’s waking up on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere and discovering that the coffee jar is empty.

Those with families know all too well the perils of under-catering, and the same applies to the family vehicle. One day you wake up and the kids have promised some friends a lift to the soccer match on the other side of town, and suddenly you realise you’ve bought a car that’s too small.

It’s this space where Volkswagen is trying to insert the newest version of its Tiguan SUV, the seven-seat Allspace. It’s quite big, but don’t confuse it with those huge, full-sized SUVs of the kind you find mounting the kerbs in Snooty Street.

Joining a new breed of ‘stretched compact’ SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail, the AllSpace is 215mm longer than the regular five-seat Tiguan.

For the record, it’s 61mm longer than an X-Trail and is on par with a BMW X3, although the VW is 52mm narrower.

While Allspace makes good use of its dimensions, it’s not going to gobble seven occupants and their luggage. 

The boot is quite small with all seven seats in place, enough for a smallish shopping spree perhaps, but it does offer a substantial 700 litres when the back row is folded, and 1775 litres when the second row goes into hiding.

The third row seats are best suited to kids, although you could squeeze adults or teens into them if those in the middle row are willing to give up most of their legroom - which is fairly generous to start with. So it’s not the kind of vehicle for hauling seven sizeable people from Joburg to Cape Town, but perfectly good for hauling the extended family to the cinema on the odd occasion. Flexibility is the keyword here.

Although Volkswagen isn’t trying to pretend that this is really anything more than a Tiguan XL, some effort has gone into differentiating the styling and apart from the obvious extension beyond the B-Pillar, the Allspace also gets a unique grille, taller bonnet and granite grey underbody protection.

It also gets a unique engine option in the form of a 132kW, 320Nm version of VW’s 2-litre TSI turbopetrol engine. This is in addition to 110kW 1.4 TSI and 162kW 2.0 TSI petrol options and a 110kW 2-litre TDI turbodiesel variant.

Our test car was fitted with the aforementioned 132kW 2-litre TSI, which is mated to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

The 132kW TSI is a touch laggy on pull-off, but provides strong performance once on the boil.

It’s not all that light on the juice though; consumption can easily hit the 12 litres per 100km mark in the urban grind, although with a bit of discipline you could nurse it below the 8.0 l/100km mark on the highway. Our car averaged 10.9 l/100km in a mixture of urban and freeway driving.

The Tiguan cruises quietly on the open road, with little in the way of wind or road noise, and the suspension is supple. That said, the ride is compromised to a degree if you order it with the R-Line package with its admittedly very stylish ‘Sebring’ 19-inch alloy wheels (which become 20-inch ‘Suzuka’ rims if you’re ordering the 162kW Highline). So equipped the ride still qualifies as comfy, but you will feel some extra firmness over smaller ripples in the road.

All Tiguan Allspace models barring the entry 1.4 TSI have VW’s 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system as standard, and these versions also boast a braked towing capacity of up to 2500kg. Of course, this is not a hard-core off-roader, but it will give you a helping hand over rougher terrain with an ‘off-road’ setting that adapts the engine, gearbox, ESC stability control and ABS, while also providing hill start and hill descent assistance. The various parameters can be individually adjusted by the driver if preferred.

Furthermore, and as an alternative to the R-Line kit, customers can opt for an off-road package that adds engine underbody protection and improves the approach angle by seven degrees.

The stretched Tiguan’s cockpit is as per the regular-wheelbase model, and that’s of course a brilliant concoction of high-quality materials and textures moulded, chiselled and hammered into a stylish interior design.

Standard kit in the Comfortline includes an electric tailgate, three-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, auto lights, park distance control and six airbags, but you do have to pay more for all the cool stuff, including the digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control and ‘Vienna’ leather seats that our car came with, and it all adds up.

Ditto the infotainment. While a 16.5cm touchscreen system is standard, you pay more for the fancier systems that you have to order to get things like Apple Carplay, voice and gesture control as well as navigation.

VERDICT

The Allspace costs between R463 400 and R604 800, with our 132kW Comfortline coming in at R523 800 before options.

If it’s just space you’re after, a Caddy Maxi or Kombi will give you even more at a similar or lower price, but if you’re lured by the style, sophistication and gadgets offered by the Tiguan, this new package gives you all that with some extra space for those moments life tends to throw at you. For many buyers that’s likely to prove the perfect compromise.

IOL Motoring