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Volkswagen’s compact SUV bulks up for a bigger slice of segment sales, but faces strong competition from the Volvo XC40 and Mazda CX-5

Only two of Volkswagen ’s current models are sold in greater numbers to the UK car-buying public than the Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV: the Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Volkswagen Polo.

VW currently sells 11 different cars in this country (more if you count estates and cabriolets as separate lines), so for the Tiguan to outsell so many of them – considering that it’s only now entering a second model generation – tells you that it has become quite popular in a short space of time.

The AWD Tiguan models get 200mm ground clearance and the Outdoor pack gives 25deg clearance angles at each end

The other thing that’s interesting about the Tiguan’s brisk success story is that it is just a compact SUV: not really a premium SUV, nor a trendy crossover-bodied one, nor a notably quirky or sporty-looking one.

Like so many Volkswagens, the Tiguan does it by the book, which is how a good chunk of British buyers like it.

Eight years ago, the first-generation version arrived in the UK just as the original 2014 Nissan Qashqai’s sales were taking off.

Compared with the Nissan equivalents, the Tiguan’s soft suspension rates and resolutely unsporting handling made for a readily intelligible SUV driving experience.

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But this time, Wolfsburg’s answer to the Honda CR-V may bring something a smidgen more risqué.

This is the first in a series of new VW SUVs and crossovers, all due before the decade’s end, that share a new common design language and which will populate every market niche in 4x4-dom with a Volkswagen model.

As it often does with its cars, Volkswagen is offering a wide range of engines in the Tiguan – three petrol and four diesel – as well as a choice of manual or dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, front or four-wheel drive and regular, lowered sports or jacked-up ‘Outdoor’ suspension set-ups.

Our test car is a 148bhp 2.0 TDI in SE Navigation trim, a combination of powertrain and trim that is predicted to be the most popular in the UK.

Volkswagen Tiguan FAQs

Is the Volkswagen Tiguan available as a plug-in hybrid or electric?

Volkswagen has been at the forefront of the recent electric revolution, so while there’s no EV version of its Tiguan SUV there is a plug-in hybrid. Badged the eHybrid, it uses a similar petrol-electric set-up that’s available in the Golf and Arteon. Badged eHybrid, it uses a 1.4-litre petrol with an electric motor to deliver a total power output of 242bhp and an all-electric range of 28 miles. With CO2 emissions of just 39g/km, it makes a great company car choice.

What are the main rivals for the Volkswagen Tiguan?

The compact SUV class is one of the most popular in the UK, so there is no shortage of rivals for the Volkswagen Tiguan. For example, if you want engaging driving dynamics, then the Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5 are worth a look, while the closely related Skoda Kodiaq and Seat Tarraco offer more space for similar cash. For style, the Peugeot 3008 takes some beating, while entry-level Land Rover Discovery Sport oozes upmarket appeal and off-road credibility.

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How much power does the Volkswagen Tiguan have?

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to engines for the Tiguan, with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options. Least powerful is the 1.5-litre TSI petrol, which is available with either 128bhp or 148bhp depending on the model. The 2.0-litre diesel delivers 148bhp too, plus there’s also a 197bhp version. A 2.0-litre TSI petrol can be ordered in 187bhp and 242bhp outputs, the latter serving up the same power as the 1.4-litre petrol-electric plug-in. Ruling the roost is the scorching hot 316bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the Tiguan R.

What choices of gearbox are there for the Volkswagen Tiguan?

The line-up of gearboxes available in the Volkswagen Tiguan will be familiar to almost any owner of one the brand’s cars. A slick and precise six-speed manual is standard on the entry-level two-wheel drive petrol and diesel models, while all the higher power versions get a seven-speed example of Volkswagen’s twin-clutch DSG gearbox. The plug-in hybrid models use the same type of transmission, but it has only six gears.

Where is the Volkswagen Tiguan built?

As Volkswagen’s most popular car globally, it’s no surprise to find the Tiguan (and its seven-seat Allspace sibling) is built in factories all around the world, either in its entirety or from knock down kits. The main production site is Wolfsburg in Germany, but the cars are also constructed at the brand’s plants in Algeria, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico. The Volkswagen Tiguan was also assembled at the firm’s facility in Kaluga, Russia, but production has been halted as a result of the country’s part in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

How many generations of the Volkswagen Tiguan have there been?

The Volkswagen Tiguan is now in its second generation, with the original model making its debut in 2007. Based on the same PQ46 platform that underpinned the MK5 Golf, the first Tiguan represented Volkswagen’s first entry into the competitive compact SUV sector. It was replaced in 2016 by the current model, which is slightly bigger and uses the brand’s MQB scalable architecture. The Tiguan is one of the company’s most successful models, with over six million examples produced over a decade and a half.

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Volkswagen Tiguan First drives