What is it?
Volkswagen’s facelifted Tiguan compact SUV, deliveries of which will begin in the UK in September, and which we’re testing in the UK for the first time. And it stands out as one of the more talented all-round road cars available of its type.
Although they’re cracked up to be seriously multi-talented, you often have to compromise on quite a lot when buying a £25,000 SUV. You can have a voluminous seven-seater, but it’ll probably come from a budget brand and with a slightly agricultural driving experience. You can have one from a premium brand, but it might be quite small and only have two driven wheels. You can have one from a more blue-blooded 4x4 brand, but you’ll have to settle for relatively low spec.
And within that rather confusing market, the Volkswagen Tiguan has become a bit of touchstone: the go-to-option for all-round breadth of ability. Oft-criticised for its ‘lightweight’ Golf-derived underpinnings, it’s actually the Tiguan’s civilized and efficient Golf-family engines and relatively modest dimensions that make it so uncompromised. Few others in the class combine the Tiguan’s car-like performance, handling, ride, refinement and efficiency, after all. And even fewer come with such a flexible, well-equipped and well-appointed cabin, with decent capability as a tow car or occasional offroad tool, or with a badge as desirable as VW’s.
What’s it like?
The new Tiguan gets a Touareg-inspired face and a new array of petrol engines. Economy and CO2 gains have been made across the whole range, and there’s a new more offroad-oriented Escape model too with more outright mud-plugging capacity.
We tested the volume-selling 138bhp 2.0-litre TDi version, with 4Motion four-wheel drive and in SE trim. Even with four driven wheels, the car squeezes into VED road tax band F for a £130 tax disc, and returns better than 40mpg on the motorway, thanks to VW’s Bluemotion Technology package, which includes automatic engine stop-start.
Performance is well up to class standards, making the Tiguan easy to drive and feel quite fleet of foot on the road. The car’s ride is a little firm, and more reactive than some SUVs. It’s certainly easy to understand why many owners christen their cars ‘Tigger’ – the VW certainly feels springier than most of its type. But the Tiguan steers and handles very tidily indeed, with strong grip, quick responses, well-contained body roll and little understeer. That being the case, it’s easy to accept the modest amount of choppiness in the car’s dynamic demeanor over undulating surfaces.
Although the Tiguan still isn’t as accommodating as some for the money, it’s as practical as a Toyota RAV4 in most meaningful measurements, and a good deal more so than a Ford Kuga or BMW X1 thanks to rear seats that slide and recline as well as folding flat. Headroom up front is as good as almost any SUV. Material quality and fit-and-finish inside the cabin are both consistently good, and standard equipment on our SE spec test car included dual zone climate control, a DAB radio, tyre pressure monitors and self-steering park assist.
Should I buy one?
It may seem a little middle-of-the-road compared to some compact SUVs, but VW’s Tiguan would make a growing family’s perfect first time 4x4.
It’s got 80 per cent of the capabilities of any SUV, but doesn’t come with drawbacks like poor fuel economy, cumbersome handling or average refinement.
Put simply, it’s a car that still drives like a car - and yet it’s also all the 4x4 you’re ever likely to need.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi 4Motion SE
Price: £25,645; Top speed: 116mph; 0-62mph: 10.2sec; Economy: 48.7mpg; Co2: 150g/km; Kerbweight: 1655kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power: 138bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual