The addition of the dual-clutch automatic gearbox doesn’t make any difference to performance, although it does knock fuel economy a little. It’s certainly a decent ‘box to use, offering smooth shifts when in normal use. Our only complaint is that it can be slightly hesitant when you ask for a burst of acceleration at low speeds.
The biggest difference to the way the R-Line Tiguan drives comes from the addition of 20in wheels and sports suspension. With no adaptive dampers, we had therefore expected the ride to be uncomfortably firm. To the R-Line’s credit, it rode sharp-edged bumps and dips far better than expected, but it's still stiffer than is ideal for a family car.
Wide tyres mean plenty of grip, but there’s no change to how the Tiguan behaves on the limit. It might be the sportiest model, but you still can’t fully disable the stability control and it naturally understeers. The Tiguan isn't bad for a small SUV, but the cheaper Seat Ateca is more fun to drive.
As with lesser-specced Tiguans, the R-Line is extremely spacious for both front and rear passengers, and a sliding rear bench means you can prioritise either leg room or boot space in the back. The sports seats are pretty comfortable, but in reality look more supportive than they actually are, and we did find some of the interior plastics slightly disappointing in terms of quality. The materials on the upper dash and top of the front door cards are pleasingly soft, but there's plenty of hard scratchy stuff around the centre console, lower dash and on the rear door cards. Our test car would have cost more than £37,000 with extras, and we would have expected better from Volkswagen.
Still, you'll find plenty of premium-grade technology in the Tiguan. All models receive autonomous emergency braking and lane assist, and plenty of other goodies are available. R-Line models get a configurable 12.3in digital display instead of conventional dials, adaptive cruise control and full LED headlights.