Revealed on the eve of the Detroit motor show, the Tiguan GTE Active also hints at plans by the German car maker to begin offering its second-generation SUV with an optional off-road styling package. A series of exterior changes help toughen up the otherwise conservative lines of the recently unveiled production model, providing the latest Volkswagen concept with an added dose of visual flair as well as the promise of greater proficiency away from the asphalt thanks to its increased ground clearance.
In the biggest hint yet that it will push ahead with long held plans to provide the Tiguan with a more robust look, Volkswagen says the independent off-road design elements incorporated within the exterior are “technically feasible for the production version”.
Among the changes brought to the exterior are new bumpers featuring prominent kicksplates both front and rear, altered headlight surrounds, beefed-up wheel arch cladding, black exterior mirror housings, a reworked aluminium roof panel incorporating auxiliary LED spotlights and roof bars, chunkier door sills, a more substantial tailgate mounted spoiler and new 16in wheels shod with high-profile all-terrain tyres.
In creating the new concept, Volkswagen has modified the chassis of the second-generation Tiguan, with alterations to the ride height helping to boost its off-roading credentials and set it up as a possible rival to the likes of the highly capable Land Rover Discovery Sport. Overall ground clearance has increased rom 180mm to 225mm, while the approach angle has improved from 25.6 to 26.1deg, the departure angle is up from 24.7 to 29.9deg and the ramp angle has increased from 20.0 to 24.7deg.
Power for the Tiguan GTE Active is provided by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 148bhp and 184lb ft in combination with a pair of brushless electric motors, one mounted up front within the gearbox producing 54bhp and 162lb ft and another sited within the rear axle assembly with 114bhp and 199lb ft. All up, the rugged looking concept boasts a system output of 221bhp and 369lb ft, giving it a scant 1bhp but 111lb ft more than the most powerful Tiguan 2.0 TDI, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with 217bhp and 258lb ft.
Energy to run the electric motors is provided by a 12.4kWh lithium ion battery mounted in the floor of the luggage compartment at the rear. It can be charged via plug-in means on a standard 240V system or via the petrol engine, the latter using the front electric motor as an alternator to produce electricity when the battery’s energy stores are depleted.
Depending on the driving mode that is chosen, the reserves are channelled to either the front, rear or all four wheels via a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox and so-called electric propshaft, which is used to transfer electric energy produced by the petrol engine directly to the rear-mounted electric motor in situations where four-wheel drive is required for longer periods, such as on a slippery on-road or in more demanding off-road conditions.
The Tiguan GTE Active is programmed to start in electric mode when there is sufficient energy stored within its battery, with drive initially provided by the rear-mounted electric motor to the rear wheels. The front mounted electric motor is engaged when the driver calls up greater performance with a nudge of the throttle or when sensors detect a lack of traction, introducing front-wheel drive to the drive process and endowing the new Volkswagen with four-wheel drive capability.
Volkswagen claims an all-electric range of up to 20 miles, theoretically allowing its new concept to head off-road in electric mode, but only to a limited top speed of 70mph.
The combustion engine fires to further enliven performance when required. Like the front-mounted electric motor, it provides drive to the front-wheels. With all three power sources contributing to the drive process, Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of 6.4sec and a 120mph top speed. At higher speeds the advanced hybrid system is programmed to rely exclusively on the combustion engine, with drive sent exclusively to the front wheels in the interests of efficiency. All up, Volkswagen claims a combined petrol-electric range of 580 miles.
There are a total of six different driving modes, each accessed via a rotary controller on the centre console. Included is On-road, Off-road, Sport, Snow, Charge and Battery Hold – the latter used to maintain a constant battery charge in situations where the driver plans to switch into all-electric mode later in the journey.
In keeping with its toughened exterior looks, Volkswagen has also provided the interior of the Tiguan GTE Active with new off-road-themed accents and trims as well as its latest infotainment system, which boasts a 9.2in touchscreen which supports gesture control as well as interfaces to run apps over Mirror Link, Android Auto and Car Play.