Video review: Volkswagen Tiguan
Spacious and practical, but it’s the premium classiness on offer that just puts the Tiguan ahead of its more economical rivals.
Believe it or not, the Tiguan is Volkswagen’s third best selling car in the UK, beaten only by the Polo and Golf. While the sales charts show that it started off slowly after its 2007 launch, by last year it was selling like proverbial hotcakes due to SUVs currently being en vogue and VW having a reputation for reliability.
That makes producing a new one a tricky task, so Volkswagen has done what Volkswagen does best - played it very safe.
What has changed?
Not much. That’s not to say it’s boring. In fact the new style makes the old model look quite dowdy thanks to a bold grille and an increase in size making the new model not only visibly longer and wider, but also surprisingly lower. The result is a much more muscular stance that gives the Tiguan some real road presence.
Popular pick: The 148bhp, mid-range model is likely to be the UK's favourite.
Despite its growth, the new Tiguan is paradoxically lighter than the old model. That’s mostly due to using the MQB platform - the chassis that sits underneath the bodywork - which is shared around the Volkswagen group in models as diverse as the Golf, Audi TT, Skoda Superb and, importantly, the Seat Ateca.
The Tiguan offers all sorts of drive options, with front or four-wheel drive being the obvious. There’s also adaptive damping and variable-rate steering available as add-ons, while you can also raise the ride height by 15mm on Outdoor spec cars or lower it by 15mm with sports suspension.
Engines range from two petrol options (1.4 and 2.0-litre) or four diesel options, all of which are two litres. The entry-level 112bhp diesel offers good value, while the 237bhp bi-turbo offers pace, but we think it’s the 148bhp, mid-range model that will do best in the UK.
While that engine has to work a little harder to keep the 1.6 tonnes of Tiguan moving along, it’s refined and economical, with noise disappearing to distant rumble when up to speed, something that takes 9.3 seconds assuming you want to get to 62mph.
It’s in the mid-range, perhaps making a move to overtake from 30mph, that the engine’s flexibility shows, but it’s never going to leave you grinning through performance alone. The same is true of the handling as while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, it never engages and it never entertains - it is Volkswagen simply playing it safe to the nth degree. However the Tiguan is no worse for that, and being slightly softer than some competitors even allows you the luxury of slowing down a little and relaxing.
In the driver’s seat
At that point you might be mistaken for thinking you’re in a Golf, such is the similarity inside. It is, again, utterly predictable, but the Golf has a fine cabin that many manufacturers would be proud of. The material quality is good - better than in the rival Ateca - and everything is laid out in a logical fashion.
It gets even more logical when looking at practicality. Despite the lower roofline, there’s more headroom inside, and plenty of shoulder room all round. Those in the middle row of seats get plenty of space. Seven seats are available too, but those right at the back might want to question the pecking order as they’re really not suitable for much more than small children or very short journeys.
The boot is wide and deep, with enough space to swallow 615 litres of whatever stuff you make in litre-sized blocks. That’s more than the Ford Kuga for example. A flat loading lip and clever hidden sections makes it an easy boot to take advantage of, too.
Avoid the basic S spec and move to SE or above and you get a well-equipped car that will satisfy most drivers and, crucially, most passengers.
An 8-inch touchscreen connects to your smartphone, allowing app-based navigation or music streaming. CamConnect allows anxious parents to wirelessly attach a GoPro camera to the system, enabling a view of any sleeping (or fighting) children without needing to turn round constantly.
SE trim or above and you get a well-equipped car that will satisfy most drivers and, crucially, most passengers.
There’s even an optional connection to allow a tablet to connect via via wifi and take over control of the car’s infotainment functions to those in the back seats. If you’re brave enough that is.
This mid-range car, with just front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, will set back cash buyers a hefty £27,310, but residual values are expected to be comparable to its premium rivals, which will ensure favourable leasing costs too.
Fuel economy remains pretty good too. The official figures claim an unreasonable 58.9mpg, while my time with the car saw it nudging a still quite impressive 50mpg. Emissions are nothing to write home about at 125g/km, which will perhaps upset company drivers.
All of this might just swing the balance for some in favour of the Volkswagen’s Spanish sister, the Seat Ateca. This offers as much tech, arguably more style, more engagement and better economy for less. Be that as it may, the Ateca misses out on that premium feel that Volkswagen has engineered into the Tiguan which is something you can’t really put a price on. It’s also not as spacious or practical.
So that makes the Tiguan the complete package. Just about.
Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan SE 2.0 TDI 2WD Manual
List price: £27,310
Top speed: 127 mph
Official fuel economy: 58.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Car tax band: D / £110 per year
Insurance group: 18E
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo diesel
Luggage Space: 615 litres
Average lease rate for tested model:
*Personal lease rate: £329
*Business lease rate: £275
*Average monthly lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6+35 10k deals. Correct at time of writing.