The Golf GTI on stilts.
The Volkswagen Tiguan has, and likely always will be, a solid performer. The VW badge on the nose means that there are scores of engineers to fuss over everything, from aerodynamics to tactile feedback of the switchgear, and it shows. The Tiguan feels like a baby premium car, rather than another middling, value-conscious compact SUV like the rest of the competition.
It may not pack the allure of a Mazda CX-5 (in red, especially) or the distinctive looks of a Peugeot 3008, but it cannot be considered anything but a looker. Sharp and smart, the latest Tiguan also offers better practicality, efficiency, and drivability than before. Three trimlines and five engines (110TDI & 140TDI turbo-oilers, and 110TSI, 132TSI, and 162TSI petrols) make up the Tiguan family, with all-wheel drive available for those who might need a little more ability from their urban-focused compact SUV.
“This section often opens by describing exactly how much a new model has grown upwards, outwards or between the axles. Mostly we detail fairly small dimensional changes – but not so the Tiguan’s.” - Autocar
If you’re familiar with the curvy, somewhat cutesy previous-generation Tiguan, the latest iteration may come as a bit of a surprise. Not only has it seemingly ditched curves altogether (seriously, this thing looks like it was designed with a ruler), but those rulers will tell you that it’s also much bigger than the car it replaces. It’s 60mm longer, 30mm wider, and has 76mm more air between the wheels, which means the Tiguan is bigger inside, but also commands a greater presence on the road.
The Tiguan looks best in higher trim levels especially, with sharp LED lights and snazzy alloys. The R-Line trim with its more aggressive design can be somewhat polarising, while lower-end models benefit from a handsome, if somewhat understated design. Highline models carry the most bling, with full-LED headlights, snazzy LED taillights, and bigger alloys.
Engine & Drivetrain
“Five engines are available in a Tiguan, two turbo-diesels and three turbo-petrols, and it is the diesels that use the least fuel.” - WhichCar
There are no less than five engines on offer, with 110TDI, 110TSI, 132TSI, 140TDI, and 162TSI powerplants in Australia. TSI denotes petrol-powered variants, while TDI is the suffix for the oilers. While the 110TSI engine offers great efficiency and decent everyday usability, the bigger 132TSI petrol offers everything the 110TSI has, but just more of it, and with very little penalty to be paid in terms of fuel economy. The 110TDI and 140TDI engines (the former available only in Comfortline, the latter exclusive to Highline) put on a better show, with great torque reserves and real long-legged ability on the motorway or even out in the rough stuff. Both return better mileage than the petrols too, which make them worth serious consideration.
The highlight powertrain is definitely the 162TSI, which comes in Highline trim only. With the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine out of the Golf GTI, it claims a century sprint time of 6.2-seconds (identical to the GTI) while still returning entirely respectable fuel economy.
4MOTION all-wheel drive is available on all but the 110TSI, along with Progressive Steering as part of an R-Line package that offers better driving dynamics. And while there’s a manual available, the automatic transmissions are much better suited to this family SUV.
“The most important aspect of the new Volkswagen Tiguan is the improved cabin practicality and layout.” - CarAdvice
Like most Volkswagen interiors, the Tiguans’ cabin is very no-nonsense in its approach. You won’t find funky-coloured inserts or leatherette-straps in here; No, the cabin of the Tiguan has placed emphasis on usability, tactility, and durability, and it’s hard to escape that trinity of German-ness as you peer around you. The seats are well padded and bolstered, and the switchgear feel well engineered. It’s all ergonomically laid out, so while it might not be a feast for the eyes, a lot of the controls are operable without taking your eyes off the road.
Higher-end models will see the use of leather through the cabin, though even the fabric trims feel plush and soft. The Tiguan feels like a luxurious place to be, regardless of trimline, with everything screwed together to a degree that you seem to only find in German cars.
Behind the Wheel
“Unsurprisingly given their shared underpinnings, the Tiguan drives like a bigger, heavier Golf, retaining that car's accurate steering and generally planted feel while losing some of the lighter hatchback's agility.” - Drive
While the 162TSI may boast its GTI-matching century sprint time, the Tiguan is not going to light your heart on fire the same way a Golf does. While it is agile and responsive enough, all Tiguans lack the keen sensitivity that you feel through the controls of a proper performance-oriented Volkswagen. But then again, not many people buying into this segment will be looking for an out-and-out performance car, so the Tiguan stopping slightly short of excellent is hardly a deal breaker.
What the Tiguan is though, is a very competent family car. The ride is comfortable enough, devoid of floatiness, and body roll is kept in check through the bends. ‘European’ is the best way to describe the way the Tiguan feels out on the road; Communicative enough not to feel dead, but not in any way uncomfortable. The steering wheel feels nicely weighted, with lots of assistance at low speeds, weighing up naturally as speeds increase. Wind and tyre noise is muted too, so miles are expected to simply fly by behind the wheel of this baby VW SUV.
Safety & Technology
“Euro NCAP awarded the Tiguan five stars (out of five) for safety.” - WhatCar?
Safety is well taken care of in the Tiguan, with all cars coming with impressive levels of active and passive safety kit as standard. Automatic headlights, all-round parking sensors, reverse cameras, and daytime running lights are available across the range, along with seven airbags should the worst occur. City-speed emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-keep aid and driver drowsiness monitor are also tacked onto all variants, which makes this a truly safe proposition regardless.
Mid and top-spec Tiguans can opt for a ‘Driver Assistance’ package too, which lengthens the safety kit list considerably. There’s a system that prevents you from reversing into traffic, and another that stops you from veering into the path of a vehicle in your blind spot. Pretty nifty stuff. Driver Assistance also brings with it a fully-digital instrument display, which makes the Tiguan look and feel effortlessly more swish than its competition.
The Volkswagen Tiguan has, in this second-generation, grown considerably. It leaves the compact-SUV segment it used to inhabit and moves into the realm of mid-sized SUVs, and that growth will likely see increased marketshare in the future. The Tiguan is a quietly competent family wagon, with a wide range of engines, impressive safety kit, and tidy handling. It’s a difficult car to criticise as it does what it does very well, just without any character whatsoever. And while motoring critics and those with a passion for cars may deduct points for that, for the rest of the world, a quietly competent car that runs all the time and does exactly as its told is all that it ought to be.
CarShowroom usually concludes its reviews by recommending a specification or trim, usually the one that offers the best value among the selection. However, Volkswagen has packaged the Tiguan so neatly that it appeals in all three specifications, and the options packages merely enhance an already stellar performer.
Motoring - 85/100 - “It might’ve been as predictable as the winner of most Formula 1 races, but Volkswagen’s new Tiguan has arrived with all boxes ticked.”
CarsGuide - 4.0/5.0 - “The Tiguan is the car VW needs to launch its better-late-than-never assault on the SUV market. Comfortable, well-equipped and engaging to drive, the Tiguan's only stumbling block is a higher starting price than its mainstream competition.”
WhichCar - 4.5/5.0- “The new-generation Tiguan is a medium SUV from Volkswagen that drives beautifully, with reassuring roadholding in all conditions. You can choose from five turbocharged engines, none of which uses much fuel, and most Tiguans drive all four wheels. All have excellent smartphone integration, and an active safety suite that includes auto braking.”
Chasing Cars - 8.5/10 - “The Volkswagen Tiguan is all-new, and it's substantially improved over the car it replaces in two ways. Firstly, it's bigger, with Volkswagen moving the car into the booming medium SUV segment. And secondly, it now feels genuinely premium.”
CarAdvice - 8.5/10 - “The larger, new Volkswagen Tiguan takes things up a notch. Prospective Mazda CX-5 buyers should take note.”
WhatCar? - 4.0/5.0 - “The VW Tiguan is spacious, good to drive and available with some strong and efficient engines. It is quite pricey, though.”
AutoExpress - 4.0/5.0 - “The old Tiguan was hardly a flop – Volkswagen sold over 2.6 million examples during the eight years it was on sale – but this new version is better in every respect. It’s more stylish, more practical and a lot more capable than it was before. Crucially, it also trumps its closest rivals in those key areas. While some cars may do all of this for less cash, you can certainly see where VW has invested the money.”
Autocar - 4.5/5.0 - “Practical, comfortable, and smart. The Tiguan grows up as well as outwards.”