It’s not hard to see why sales of petrol Volkswagen Tiguans are dwarfed by those of the diesels. All petrol models actually provide quite strong performance with even the 1.4-litre car hitting 62mph in 8.9sec and the GTI-powered version needing just 7.3sec when equipped with a DSG transmission and four-wheel drive.
But as we will see in the next section, this isn’t a car that makes you want to set an alarm and tiptoe out of the house at dawn on sunny Sunday morning; indeed the prospect is far more likely to make you turn over and go back to sleep. So it comes down to the running costs which, as we’ll also shortly see, are predictably skewed in the direction of diesel.
Of the three diesels, it’s not hard to see why the mid-spec 138bhp engine is the only motor common to every grade of Tiguan: it just makes the most sense.
There’s no fuel consumption benefit in the 108bhp diesel but the performance drop off is massive, extending the 0-62mph time from an entirely respectable 10.2sec to a closer to interminable 11.9sec, and it’s only available in the base ‘S’ trim. The 174bhp diesel does race off the line to 62mph in 8.5sec but model for model it costs over £1000 more and does compromise fuel consumption.
The mid-range 138bhp engine is a VW stalwart, a faithful workhorse found in VWs from the Beetle to the Caravelle. It’s not especially refined, nor particularly quick but its powerband is wide and ably covered by the six gears standard in even the cheapest Tiguan. We’d think long and hard before choosing a DSG transmission for the car however.
The seven speed unit is fine if you change manually, but without paddles and with the sequential shift pattern the wrong way around (you push forward to change up), who’s going to bother? Left to its own devices, the system is hesitant and, left to coast down hill, positively imprecise in its timing and execution of gearshifts.
The brakes don’t feel great either. All the stopping power is there but the pedal is over-assisted and can grab a little upon first application resulting in a certain decelerative inelegance.