What is it?
The 316bhp Tiguan R might be the most exciting addition to Volkswagen's newly facelifted and hugely successful family SUV line, but this here e-Hybrid model is arguably the most significant.
The reasoning behind this is simple, really: it’s a plug-in hybrid. So it should offer the sorts of fleet manager-friendly CO2 ratings that make PHEVs a tempting business choice, while also affording private buyers who are able to regularly charge its 13kWh battery flexibility and lower running costs.
That powertrain is the same as you will find in the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE and Skoda Superb iV. It’s based around a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-pot petrol engine, which is mated to an electric drive motor and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Combined, these elements make for a system output of 242bhp and 295lb ft, all of which is deployed to the road via the front axle.
Select E-Mode to run solely on electricity and, on a full charge, you will be good to travel about 31 miles or so. And once you run out, you can hook up to a 3.5kW wallbox to charge the battery again in just over three and a half hours.
What's it like?
That’s all grand, but there are of course a few penalties that arise from opting for a Tiguan with a plug socket. The drive battery is rather large, so the fuel tank has been moved to the boot floor. You’ll lose 139 litres of boot capacity as a result, leaving you with 476 litres. The battery itself also adds 135kg of weight.
But anyway, it remains an impressively civilised machine to drive. Let the electric motor take charge of proceedings and you will find adequate thrust and a keen throttle response on offer at lower speeds, all of which is accompanied by a subtle whirring that could sound like a high-pitched Subaru boxer to someone with a very active imagination.
As you roll out of town and decide to bury your foot a little deeper into the pedal’s travel, the manner in which the petrol engine then sparks into life and pitches in is pretty seamless, too. It’s a slick, refined powertrain this, and one that doesn’t really seem to run out of punch unless you purposely spin the engine’s revs right up to the redline.
However, if you choose to engage GTE mode and absolutely nail the accelerator, you will notice a few things. First is a rather dramatic rearward weight transfer that makes the already quite light steering go a wee bit lighter; and second is a tendency for the car to tug from left to right ever so slightly as it deploys its power to the road. But really, these are fairly minor complaints, because the Tiguan quickly composes itself and the performance it then conjures is surprisingly potent. You won’t have too much trouble performing overtakes, that’s for sure.