Should anyone feel so minded one day to write the history of the compact SUV, that curious breed of car known more commonly and excruciatingly as the ‘soft-roader’, it’s hard to see the Volkswagen Tiguan making much of an impact on its pages.

While the original Toyota RAV4 or Range Rover Evoque might merit a chapter to themselves, the Tiguan would do well to make it out the footnotes.

It’s not because the Tiguan is a poor car, or unsuccessful. On the contrary after the staple Polo, Golf and Passat, VW sells more of them in the UK than any of its many other cars.

But it’s not exactly an extrovert, a car designed to get itself or, indeed, its occupants noticed. Like so many VWs over so many generations, its self-appointed role is to quietly and discreetly get on with the job and leave the posturing and posing to others.

But while that confers a certain pleasing honesty on the car, you have to question the relevance of the approach in the 21st century. It has long been known that this breed of car rarely ventures furthers from the tarmac than the nearest school playing field and that the real reason for their burgeoning popularity has little to do with how well they fit family life relative to, say, a conventional small estate and rather more with how their owners think such cars will help them be perceived by the neighbours.

Happily we need not delay ourselves too long with such considerations. We’ll leave it to do you decide whether the Tiguan makes the right kind of statement and concentrate instead on letting you know whether it’s actually any good at the real job it’s been designed to do.

The range is quite complicated, spread across four grades, S, SE and R-Line with a special Escape off-road version with revised bodywork to improve approach and departure angles.

Four wheel drive is optional on on all but the base spec diesel and all engines carry forced induction. Petrol engines range from a 158bhp 1.4-litre motor past a 177bhp 2-litre and end with the 207bhp unit used in the last generation Golf GTi.

But the vast majority of sales will be diesels, so VW provides three specs of the same 2-litre motor – a 108bhp for the entry level S, a 138bhp variant available in all models and a 174bhp range topper only for SE and R-line customers. The Escape is available only with the 138bhp diesel.

Top 5 Compact SUVs

  • Ford Kuga
    Ford's targeting a class above with its bigger Kuga

    Ford Kuga

    1
  • Hyundai Santa Fe makes for an excellent ownership proposition

    Hyundai Santa Fe

    2
  • Land Rover is targeting the growing number of people buying into two-wheel-drive SUVs

    Land Rover Freelander

    3
  • If the new CR-V looks more crossover than old-guard SUV it may be because the roofline is 30mm lower than before

    Honda CR-V

    4
  • Toyota RAV4
    This is the fourth model in the RAV4's history

    Toyota RAV4

    5

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