The Tiguan is a car you feel could be made to handle quite well if only VW were minded to make the effort. The structure feels commendably stiff while the steering is free from kickback, well weighted, positive and accurate.
But VW is aware of how far down the priority list lies handling prowess and appears to have turned its attention elsewhere before the Tiguan’s dynamic responses were honed to a fine degree.
The result is a car that, like so many of its rivals, feels needlessly sloppy, especially if you’re unlucky enough to come to it after something as taut and controlled as a seventh generation Golf.
It’s not the soft spring rates we quibble with, it would be absurd to equip such a car with rock hard suspension, but the way the resulting roll, heave and pitch are controlled. In normal driving you’re aware of the body moving quite easily on its springs but if you press on it this movement soon leads to rather lurching progress, never enough to affect the stability of the car but more than sufficient to make you abandon all attempts to enjoy the Tiguan on a good road.
On street tyres and with no low ratio transfer box, even all wheel drive Tiguans have limited off-road ability but the towing limit of 2200kg is far better than most in the class and Escape versions come not only with hill descent control and a softer engine map for off-roading but also a 2500kg towing capacity, fully half a tonne more than that offered by the best Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.
The ride quality is quite good, but only if you compare it to what else is available in this broadly under-achieving class. Primary body control isn’t great for reasons outlined above, but in less strenuous conditions those soft springs and tall side walls of the 17in tyres prove perfectly capable of absorbing every day imperfections in the road surface.
But by ultimate standards, or even those of conventional cars the same money will buy, there is nothing special here. The ride of the Tiguan is good enough not to annoy, but not sufficiently special to count as a strong point in its favour.