The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan is the first all-new model to emerge from the German car-making giant since it became embroiled in the diesel emissions scandal that has led to the recall of more than 11 million cars worldwide.
First revealed at the Frankfurt motor show last September, the neatly styled SUV represents a big break from its highly successful predecessor, not only terms of appearance and engineering but also positioning and ambition.
Having recorded a healthy 2.6 million sales worldwide with the first-generation model since its introduction back in 2007, Volkswagen has decided to expand the range second time around in a bid to extend the reach of the Tiguan into new and potentially lucrative market segments already occupied by various SUV competitors.
The standard five-seat model driven here is just one of three new Tiguan derivatives set to join the Volkswagen line-up in the next two years.
A seven-seat long-wheelbase variant as well and a more sportingly styled coupé are also under development and planned to reach showrooms in 2017 and 2018 respectively, although there remains a question mark over whether the seven-seater will make it to the UK. The Tiguan coupé, however, is a certainty.
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The standard-wheelbase Tiguan has put on 60mm in length and 30mm in width, while in four-wheel-drive guise as driven here, it is a scant 22mm lower than before.
The new Volkswagen will be offered from the start of UK sales with the choice of two turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, although others are planned to follow as production of the second-generation model is ramped up at Volkswagen’s main factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Included among the launch line-up, and tested here, is VW’s familiar 2.0 TSI petrol unit, delivering a peak of 178bhp along with 236lb ft between 1500 and 3950rpm.
As with the first-generation model, though, the majority of UK customers are likely to opt for Volkswagen’s widely used diesel engine, which will initially come in just one state of tune, producing 148bhp and 251lb ft in the 2.0 TDI SCR and 2.0 TDI SCR 4Motion.
As their model name suggests, all new diesel powered Tiguan models come fitted with a so-called selective catalytic reduction (SCR) filter to help rein in nitrous oxide emissions. It necessitates the inclusion of a 12-litre tank housing the AdBlue solution used in the exhaust gas filtration system mounted at the rear underneath the boot.
The initial petrol engine comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and comes with four-wheel drive as standard, while the diesel is available with either a standard six-speed manual gearbox or the seven-speed dual-clutch unit, along with the choice of either front or four-wheel drive.
In 2015, some three-quarters of all Tiguans sold in the UK were four-wheel drive, so it seems smart to offer both the petrol and diesel engine models with it as standard from the beginning.
Volkswagen says its fifth-generation four-wheel drive 4Motion system provides a faster apportioning of power to all four wheels via a process that provides pre-activation of the rear clutch and improved operation of the electronic differentials.
A glance over the specification reveals that the petrol model is the undisputed performance leader of the initial line-up, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.7sec and a 129mph top speed. The trade-off comes in economy, with the 2.0 TSI 4Motion having a claimed combined economy figure of 38.7mpg and average CO2 emissions of 168g/km.
By comparison, the initial range-topping diesel, the 2.0 TDI SCR 4Motion, has a 0-62mph time of 9.3sec and a 124mph top speed along with combined consumption of 42.0mpg and a CO2 rating of 147g/km.
Among the petrol powerplants set to be added to the line-up shortly after the new Tiguan’s introduction to the UK is an entry-level 1.4-litre unit with 123bhp and 147bhp and a more powerful version of the existing 2.0-litre engine developing 217bhp.
The diesel line-up will also be expanded to include a base 114bhp 2.0 TDI as well as 188bhp and 236bhp variants of the same unit.
What's it like?
The new Tiguan certainly exudes a more confident air than its predecessor. The inherent adaptability of the MQB platform upon which it is based has enabled Volkswagen to provide the new SUV with a 77mm longer wheelbase, at 2681mm, and the tracks have also been widened, which greatly improves the Tiguan's overall stance.
The four-wheel-drive model driven here has 200mm of ground clearance as standard, giving it 11mm more than front-wheel-drive models. There is also an optional Off-Road package, which features a uniquely styled front bumper providing an approach angle of 25.6deg and a departure angle of 24.7deg.
The cabin displays a big improvement in perceived quality. The uniquely styled dashboard and associated trims are all of a noticeably higher level of finish than those used on the first-generation Tiguan, although most of the switchgear and the infotainment monitor will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in the latest Golf.
The Tiguan also picks up developments from the latest Passat, specifically in the form of the optional Active Info Display high-definition instrument panel. There is also an optional head-up display unit, although unlike the solution employed by some more upmarket rivals, it uses a small glass panel, deployed from behind the instrument binnacle at the press of button, rather than the windscreen to project information, something that cheapens the look of an otherwise excellent driving environment.
The increase in external dimensions helps to provide the Tiguan with added accommodation. Thanks in part to a rear bench that offers up to 180mm of longitudinal adjustment, there is an added 29mm of rear seat leg room. Luggage space has grown too, increasing by 145 litres to 615 litres with the standard 60/40 split folding rear seats in place, or 1655 litres with the seats lowered.
Our first drive of the new Tiguan on icy roads inside the Arctic Circle revealed it to be exceptionally refined and highly capable. The demanding conditions made it impossible to deliver any definitive conclusions about its general on-road ability, although its ability to quickly divert drive to the wheels with the most traction contributed to a nice secure feel even on tricky snow-strewn trails.
The ride quality is especially impressive. It's a nicely refined car with excellent sound-deadening properties even over nasty sections of icy aspahlt. It's also particularly well damped, with highly creditable body control given its generous wheel travel and overall height. Indeed, you quickly come to appreciate the sheer depth of engineering within the chassis, which delivers greater levels response and overall comfort than that of the old Tiguan.
The new four-wheel drive system offers four differing modes: Snow, On-road, Off-road and Individual, allowing you to alter the properties of the engine, gearbox, steering and four wheel drive hardware at the twist of a dial positioned between the front seats. It is safe to say that the new Tiguan will go places most customers will never dare to venture.
Should I buy one?
A brief fling around the north of Sweden in the midst of winter is not sufficient for us to form any binding conclusions about the on-road dynamic properties of the second-generation Tiguan.
On the strength of what we’ve seen so far, though, the new VW has taken a major step in almost all key areas, most notably interior quality, which is now a match for any similarly priced SUV rival. The bump in external dimensions also makes its cabin more versatile than ever.
The 2.0 TSI petrol model is the smoother and more agreeable choice among the launch line-up, offering up more than adequate performance and superb levels of refinement by class standards. The 2.0 TDI SCR diesel, while nicely refined, ultimately proves more vocal in everyday driving, but it also promises excellent economy.
In four-wheel-drive guise, the Tiguan's ability away from the asphalt is also quite impressive, thanks to its generous ground clearance and the excellent traction delivered by its newly configured four-wheel drive system.
If these properties help to enhance its on-road handling in a similar manner, the second-generation Tiguan it is going to prove to be a very convincing alternative to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 4Motion
Location Sweden; On sale April; Price £23,000 (from, est); Engine 4 cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 178bhp; Torque 236lb ft at 1500-3950rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight na; Top speed 129mph; 0-60mph 7.7sec; Economy 38.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 168g/km, 28%