VW’S Tiguan II is bigger, cheaper to run, loaded with gear, lighter and safer, writes DAVE MOORE.
Originally launched in 2006 the first generation Tiguan five-door, C-segment SUV enjoyed 2.8-million sales all told and in most of the world’s market’s it’s only beaten in the VW line-up by the Golf and Polo ranges.
Now the second generation Tiguan range has just arrived at prices starting from $41,990 for the 1.4-litre 125hp petrol 2WD model moving to beyond the $60k mark if you opt for diesel and all wheel drive and tick sufficient boxes, like R-line specification and sat-nav in the range’s huge manifest.
The SUV/Crossover sector of the new car market has grown hugely during the last ten years and the Tiguan has to battle for sales against a raft of capable competitors such as the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Renault Koleos, Toyota’s RAV-4, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, BMW X1, Audi Q3, Ford Kuga, and Nissan’s Qashqai and X-Trail.
After a week in the Tiguan, I can say that it’s capable of more than holding its own. A lot that is to do with the fact that the latest Tiguan uses the Volkswagen Group’s highly praised modular MQB platform as does the VW Golf and Audi’s A3, A4 and TT ranges as well as Skoda’s Octavia and Superb as well as its upcoming seven-seater Kodiaq SUV.
I spent most of my time with the 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel driving through a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission and 4Motion all-wheel-drive. It came with all the fruit including a superb Sat-Nav system that snugly fits between the Rev-counter and Speedo. Brilliant – it’s easy to see and use and after a while you’ll trust its voice so much that you won’t need to actually look at it at all.
My loaded test car came with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, silver front underbody protection plate and rear diffuser, heated front seats, that fabulous sat-nav, an active info display screen, electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control with radar braking plus all the usual fruit.
With 4Motion you can select On Road, Off Road, Off-Road Individual and Snow, as well as a driver profile selection with three settings – Eco, Normal and Sport.
The first Tiguan always rode well and the new car does too even on lower profile alloy wheels, with the suspension set up to be well-damped throughout its suspension travel. It easily ignores impacts encountered on quake-ravaged streets and the poorest road surfaces fail to unsettled the VW. I’d put my neck on the block and say that The Tiguan II’s ride is one of the best sorted in any segment – and I drive an awful lot of cars with my work.
The handling is well-balanced and the car’s well-weighted steering devoid of kick-back but full of feed-back – just as you’d expect from this GTi among SUVs. Grip is enhanced further by the car’s selectable 4Motion all-wheel-drive system which is a boon in wintry on-road conditions, while providing decent capability for occasional off-road adventures.
I’d put my neck on the block and say that The Tiguan II’s ride is one of the best sorted in any segment – and I drive an awful lot of cars with my work.
The turbodiesel engine grunts out a useful 340Nm of torque from 1,750rpm and the responsiveness is strong and immediate, from 1500rpm onwards. Coupled with the seven-speed DSG the Tiguan II felt as lively and as fun to drive as a GTi Golf, with perhaps just a touch of diesel chatter to betray its power unit. Performance was smooth and the ratio shifts crisp and quick.
It all adds up to consummately brisk and refined transport in all conditions and it’s this area in which the Tiguan II displays its superiority to other SUVs in the C-segment – and that includes the other usual German suspects, each of which seem a little tired compared with the VW.
They rank a little behind in terms of safety spec too, the Tiguan II features or options city emergency braking, automatic post-collision braking, lane assist and pedestrian monitoring. There is a swath of options customising for the Tiguan which is what punters will expect, seeing as so many more are expected to sell in New Zealand than before.
The use of the MQB platform means that although the second-generation Tiguan II is longer, wider and only a tad less tall than its predecessor, its lighter by the equivalent of a tall, overweight male passenger, who now gets sufficient room to loll in the rear seat. He’ll also get easier access.
Up front it’s almost as if the Tiguan II’s creators snatched the seats from the much bigger Touareg for use in the new model, for they are uncommonly big, supportive and comfortable and it matters not if you’re looking at a cloth-clad base car or the all-the-fruit leather-upholstered range-topper, they’re all on the same frame and supremely well designed
The Tiguan II has lost the old model’s slightly frumpy rear three-quarters and now comes with chiselled rather than organic shapes with a sharp tapered side crease that puts a delightful horizontal shadow in its flanks, and makes the car seem even bigger than its increased accommodation suggests. The conservative hard-edged styling has a lot to do with the interior volume and particularly the rear headroom, which is far better than that of competitors with sloping rooflines or – heaven forbid – coupe-like proportions.
Horses for courses, I say. That upright look also pays dividends in the boot, which is also larger than before. The rear seats split 40/20/40 and not only fold for a large load area they slide and recline as well. The boot is 520-litres while sliding the rear seats forward increases this to 615-litres. With the rear seats folded down the load area is a huge 1,655-litres, 145-litres more than the previous model.
The glasshouse is bigger and visibility all around much improved, and another benefit derived from the squared style is the provision of a safer, lifting bonnet line which VW says reduces the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists in the event of an impact.
The wider grille treatment introduced in the last of the original Tiguans is taken into the new car where its slim, chromed maw connects with the front lighting clusters and its visual accentuation of the car’s width gives it a very pleasingly sporting stance.
With its ‘same-as-before’ pricing and no hint of a stripper base model, even in the entry-point model, VW has set its Tiguan II straight into the $40k to $60k frenzied-feeding sales area which means it can be an affordable and brilliantly capable alternative for any similarly-sized SUVs sourced from Asian, North American or European sources – even those with Roundels, Hoops or Silver Stars on their noses.
Please note that specifications and pricing are subject to change. Imagery may include optional extras. Contact our team to confirm.
Dave Moore has been writing about cars for more than half a century, if you count the school magazine piece he published about his uncle’s broken down MG.
After university, he worked as creative director in the London Advertising scene, before emigrating to New Zealand in 1979. Throughout that time he has been reviewing motorcycles and cars for British, Australian, American, Canadian and New Zealand publishers.
Most recently Dave has been the Group Motoring Editor for Fairfax Media, parting ways with the company in 2015 after 30 years. Dave has been recognised eighteen times by the Qantas Media Awards and has received more than a score of other national awards for his writing and photography.
Dave is now spending more time with his family, though it’s still rare to see his driveway without an evaluation vehicle sitting on it as he’s Radio Live’s motoring pundit, with a half-hour spot that airs every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 12 noon.
Dave MooreMotoring Journalist, RadioLive CarTalk
Welcome to Miles Continental. The home of Volkswagen and ŠKODA in Christchurch.