Volkswagen Tiguan Road Test, Review
Bigger and better than the model it replaced, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is an absolute cracker.
Outside, the look is a little squarer than before. Its handsome, and masculine, and modern. Larger wheels probably negate any kind of off-roading aspirations.
Volkswagen is waxing lyrical about the new-gen Tiguan.
They say it is powerful, and luxurious. They say it is a contender fit to compete against the high-end-ness of the Germans. Presumably, they mean the other Germans.
I drove the top R-Line model complete with big 20” wheels, powerful engine, and a premium cabin.
The chunky Tonka-toy exterior is further accentuated by gorgeous LED headlights that look like ice cubes in a G & T.
Around the back the LED story continues.
The top line of LEDs remains lit while the engine is on. The bottom two horizontal pairs turn vertical, and become more intense when the brake applied. It is eye-catching the first time you see it.
The roof rails can take a travel pod should you fill the boot with your unbridled enthusiasm.
It is hard to find fault with Volkswagen’s premium claim, at least on the outside. But, what’s the inside like?
In a word, quite lovely. But that’s two words, isn’t it?
The top model, with R-Line package (an additional $4,000), brings with it some extra goodies.
The soft Vienna leather seats have R stitched into them. There are further R-Line garnishes lavished on every conceivable surface, both inside and out.
Apart from the chrome tail pipes, you get steering that’s progressive, and damping that’s adjustable.
The off-roading aspirations are greatly embellished by the addition of settings on a console-mounted control dial. This dial also houses the chassis control selection button.
The newest incarnation of the Volkswagen infotainment system has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. All models get an 8” touch screen but only the top 2 models get voice control for sat-nav and audio operations.
Apple CarPlay allows drivers to say “Hey Siri” to perform tasks hands free. For example, you don’t need to press the voice button to play music, or make a call. More importantly, messaging is also completely handsfree.
The car’s voice system is accessed by pressing the voice button briefly. Pressing, then holding, will activate Siri instead.
Except for the seat belt, I see Siri as a safety feature greater than many that has gone before. Why?
Stand on a street corner some time, and watch how many people drive past with their noses pointing down at their phones rather than at the windscreen. A car travels a long way in the time it takes to type a few letters.
You can switch from CarPlay back to the car’s system anytime.
The infotainment menu bar hides when not in use, giving the user more real estate for viewing maps, radio stations, and other functions.
The sound has a rich, dark, flavour. It adds a moodiness to an already-elegant cabin which looks particularly charming after dark.
Function has not been sacrificed on the alter of form.
The fittings and controls have a solid quality feel, and the plastics feel soft and expensive. Knobs and buttons have a resistance to their smooth operation that you usually expect from cars that cost the GDP of a small African nation.
There is a soft grip rim on the climate controls which gives an impression that thought has gone into their design over and above that required.
Although the R-Line is almost $57,000, the same care and quality goes in to the base Trendline.
I really rate the Tiguan’s look and feel inside and out.
The Volkswagen Tiguan Highline has a “running clearance” of 201mm.
Assuming it means ground clearance, that gives you a good deal of leeway over muddy lanes on the way to your country pad.
The cargo hold has 615 litres worth of space for your bags too.
Most handy is the Active Cruise Control (ACC) which keeps an eye on the road ahead. It will slow you down if the traffic slows down, all the way to stop.
When the traffic moves off, you press the “Resume” button, or blip the accelerator to get going again.
The only downside to ACC is you need to watch the speedo so you don’t wind up doing 70 in a 110 zone.
It’s easy to become mesmerized by the number plate in front of you on a 6-lane highway, especially if there is no one else around.
Many is the time I’ve wondered why I seemed to be going slowly, only to realise the idiot in front is 9,000 years old, towing a caravan and half asleep.
It is hard to pick a place to start when the SUV is as accomplished as the Tiguan appears to be.
There is a 7 speed DSG in the Highline.
You can only get a manual if you choose the entry level car. For some inexplicable reason, the auto option is only a 6 speed DSG in that car.
The engine compartment continues the excitement, where the Golf GTI engine has been shoehorned in for added zap.
A respectable 0-100 time of 6.5 seconds means the Tiguan is every bit a hot hatch.
The controls are well laid out. Steering wheel buttons allow you to scroll through the 12” driver’s instrument LCD menu. You can even display the sat-nav there, as with all VW “virtual dashboards”.
The speedo and tacho shrink in size when the map is displayed.
A digital speedo can occupy the central region of the screen but disappears the moment you want to scroll across to other functions.
I’d like to see the middle of the conventional speedo dial permanently display digital speedo, rather than only when the sat-nav is displayed.
Steering is light, very light. It varies depending on chassis setting, which also alters the dampers. Handling becomes sports-like when in sports mode.
For a change, claims of sportiness have not been exaggerated. The road manners are as impeccable as the immaculate cabin.
The ride is superb. It gets firmer of course, the second you enter sports mode. However, even in the hardest setting, the suspension won’t come close to dislodging body parts and it tackles cobbles.
I have it on good authority that the off-road settings make a decent fist of light cross-country work. You probably won’t want to tow much, but for those rare times when you do, hiring a bigger rig is an option.
The electric rear door isn’t exactly unusual today, but it makes things much easier none the less.
If the ride, and the handling doesn’t do it for you, then, then fuel economy will.
8.1L/100k for the petrol engine is quite good given what SUVs did only a few years ago. They were one seen as petrol guzzlers, and so they were. Now, they’re as economical as their family hatch counterparts.
VW says it takes 95ron, but I’ll bet it runs on E10 just as well.
The driving position is high-set, and I’m beginning to like that very much. You sit upright too, which means oodles of space in the rear seats.
We enjoyed a day’s motoring on a course usually reserved for sports cars. I’m not saying it is quite as much of a rip-snorter as a Golf GTI, but it is as near as damnit.
The 4motion AWD shuffles power to give the best grip.
While the chassis control adjusts the dampers up to 1,000 times a second. 1,000 times a second seems extreme but accounts for the excellent handling in extreme conditions.
As the weight shifts, you can still feel the mass of the Tiguan, but it doesn’t seem as if it will pull you off your line.
There is all the usual safety gadgetry, including autonomous emergency braking, which adds an extra peace-of-mind to the comfort.
Automated parking took a while to get used to.
Rather than selecting whether parallel or end-in parking available, the system does it for you.
Once you press the parking button, the car searches for a spot it will fit in to. You indicate if you want to park on the driver’s side, otherwise it parks on the passenger’s side.
It knows what kind of park it has found, then all you have to do is follow directions by shifting in to D or R. You control the speed, but the steering is done by the computer, and it is very good at it.
The sensors know exactly where the obstacles are. It will take you far closer to them than your eye, and good judgement, will allow.
Auto parking was once just an amusement for the kids, but is now a real tool.
The reversing camera is high quality too. The lines show where you’re going, and how close you can get to an obstacle and still be able to open the tailgate.
I searched hard to find something I didn’t like, I really did.
There just isn’t anything that needs sorting. It is very safe. It looks good, goes great, is comfortable, and is economical.
I could probably do without the sunroof, but it is nice to have if it is included in a package. I’d rather opt out and save the money instead. It is usually about 2 grand, so take your better half on a holiday instead.
The real question is not “how good is the Tiguan”, but rather “is there anything else better for the money?”
I’ll bet the answer is no.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 162kW/350Nm
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $48,490 (Highline)