First drive: Volkswagen’s Tiguan looks to lure family buyers
Crossovers are family favourites these days and Volkswagen is revamping its offering with the second generation Tiguan
Model: Tiguan SUV
Date Reviewed: April 7, 2016
VW didn’t bring their A-game to Tiguan first time out: they didn’t seem to put the same heart into Tiguan that they consistently bring to the iconic Golf. Yet this is a segment that can’t be ignored: buyers are increasing flocking towards crossovers.
The outgoing VW Tiguan should have done better when pitted against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, but it was left to the Asians to own this burgeoning market. Their offerings were a mix of sharp styling and attractive prices. In contrast, the Tiguan seemed relatively expensive and a bit dull.
Family buyers initially moved to people carriers in the quest for space to haul the detritus of family life, but the boxy styling of these cars became a motoring motif of the sacrifice adults make for their children.
So when the crossover format came along offering similar practicality but more styling panache, buyers beat a trail to the dealerships. As VW aspires to be the biggest car producer in the world, this is a goldrush they can’t miss.
Enter Tiguan 2: dressed to impress. The big news is undoubtedly the added refinement of the second generation Tiguan, a reflection of Volkswagen’s further push towards a premium positioning. From the moment you open the door the level of detailing - right down to the scuff plates - is impressive for a car in the €30,000 price bracket. The Tiguan, for example, comes with the very smart fully digital central console - called Active Info Display - that’s the same as Audi’s award-winning virtual cockpit. The system is standard on the top-level Highline specification.
The styling takes its cue from the larger Toureag, though it’s in no ways as dramatic. Volkswagen has adopted a clear family look for cars of this size but they are all starting to look the same. Colour plays a big part in the identity of this car: opt for orange and it starts to have a proper presence, opt for silver and it’s hard to tell it from a regular Golf. Frankly the Tiguan’s look is smart, if a little too conservative.
That conservatism is also reflected behind the wheel. The entry-level petrol 1.4-litre 120bhp TSI is a smooth performer, while the two diesel variants we tested - VW’s new 2-litre diesel in 115bhp and 150bhp formats - are capable. All lack a little urgency unless you floor the initially rather flaccid accelerator pedal. Then again this is no performance car and even in “sports mode” the difference between it and normal mode is very nuanced. The diesel also sounds a little rough when you do kick down. In a choice between six-speed manual and the twin-clutch DSG automatic, I’d advise serious consideration of the latter.
The Tiguan comes with either front-wheel drive or, for an added €3,000 or so, 4Motion four-wheel-drive. To demonstrate 4Motion in action we were asked to pit the car against various obstacles at a BMX track. The off-road ability is certainly aided by the new Tiguan’s increased ground clearance, but it’s unlikely any Tiguans will be veering off tarmac.
You would be happy to have a Tiguan on your driveway, the neighbours would be rightly impressed and it offers all the practicality a young family needs. Starting at €29,765 for the 1.4-litre petrol, the reality is that most buyers will spend a few extra euros on specification and are looking at a price of over €30,000. The 2-litre 150bhp diesel will be available from May 16th starting at €33,765, but the vast majority of Irish buyers will wait for the 2-litre 115bhp diesel arriving early next year and spend any extra money on equipment rather than the extra 35bhp.
The question is not whether Tiguan will sell: for all the scandal over diesel emissions, VW is still an aspirational brand for many buyers. The pricing may not be as competitive as Asian rivals, but the badge and the car’s overall finish will warrant the extra spend for many potential buyers. VW also has its banking arm to hand, so under Personal Contract Plans the Tiguan is offered from €359 per month for the 1.4-litre petrol or €389 for the 150bhp 2-litre diesel. That’s competitive financing even against Asian rivals with lower sticker prices.
For sure the Tiguan is accomplished, it feels strong, well-built and there is a definite sense that it’s a viable rivals for full-premium entrants from BMW or sister brand Audi. Like the Golf, the Tiguan is a cut above the rest of its mainstream rivals. Yet it lacks character. It’s clinical and precise, comfortable and poised. Yet it’s lacking fun. The Golf possesses all the positives mentioned, but it also has a boot-full of character. VW promises other iterations of the Tiguan will be added to the crossover range, including more sporty, coupe-crossover formats. Perhaps they will offer the missing ingredient to spice up VW’s crossover mix.
Lowdown: VW Tiguan
Engines: 1.4-litre 120bhp petrol; 2-litre diesel with either 115bhp or 150bhp. Six-speed manual or twin-clutch DSG automatic
Specification: Entry-level Trendline includes leather steering wheel; 17-inch alloys; LED rear lights; 5-inch colour radio system with Bluetooth and USB; air-con; rain sensor; land departure warning system. Comfortline offers multifunctional steering wheel; lumbar support front seats; 6.5-inch media touchscreen system; ParkPilot reversing sensor system; fatigue detection system; 3-zone air-con. Highline adds: heated seats; 18-inch alloys; LED headlights; VW’s Active Info Display; Park Assist including rearview camera; hill descent control;
Our rating: 3/5
Our verdict: Premium quality fit and finish. Clinical and precise, comfortable and poised. Yet it’s lacking some fun in its DNA.