Emphasis on off-road agility means new baby 4x4 is going for the Freelander as much as the RAV4
5 June 2007

Volkswagen's new Tiguan 4x4 will be more than just a reworked Golf with four-wheel drive and extra ground clearance.

Following final testing of the car in the Namibian desert, Autocar can exclusively reveal that the Tiguan has been designed to make it a proper off-roader.

Two body styles will be available – a regular version and one with better approach angles at the front end to improve its off-road ability when climbing hills and negotiating obstacles.

The standard car has an approach angle of 18 degrees, while the off-road version has 28 degrees –better than a BMW X5, but not as good as a Land Rover Freelander's 31 degrees.

Modified mechanicals

Undeneath is a heavily modified version of the stretched Golf platform used in the VW Eos. Front suspension is Macpherson strut with an independent four-link set-up – four-wheel drive Tiguans get the rear suspension from the Passat 4Motion.

A steel rear subframe replaces the Passat's alloy item for extra strength off-road. The rear dampers have more oil in them for better performance in off-road situations. VW claims the Tiguan handles with "neutral to light understeer."

Even the steering has been designed to to minimise the jolts and bumps transmitted through the wheel when driving over rough ground. The Tiguan is also the first SUV to offer a self-parking option, called Park Assist.

Prepared for the rough stuff

All of the car's electronic off-road aids are combined into one function called Offroad mode. One switch controls the hill descent control, alters the throttle response for off-roading, enables the differential locks for better traction, changes the anti-lock braking system so it works better on loose surfaces and activates a hill climb assist function, which protects the clutch from burnouts when dealing with hills at low speed.

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Initially the engine range will consist of turbocharged four-cylinder TSI petrols, with 148bhp, 168bhp and 197bhp. VW's exisiting four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesels will be available with 138bhp and 168bhp.

Inside the production car will be very similar to the Tiguan concept, with a Golf Plus-derived dashboard. VW has developed a new touch-screen navigation and entertainment system for the Tiguan, which uses a rear-view camera to assist with parking and off-road driving.

The navigation system also works off-road, and is capable of laying down markers in unmapped areas so the driver can find their way back to a starting point.

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