Until recently one of the cars that sat on our driveway was the outgoing Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI, so I feel quite well placed to spot the differences between it and this new Tiguan.
The Tiguan is a crucial model for Volkswagen. It is their top seller, behind the Polo and the Golf. It also occupies a slot in a market sector that has grown about 14% in the past six years.
With that success behind it, Volkswagen will have been wary of making changes that might scare off loyal Tiguan customers. But, balanced against that, there has to be enough that is new and fresh to excite existing Tiguan owners to trade up and new buyers to come in. I reckon Volkswagen have that balance pretty well spot on.
The new car looks sufficiently like the popular outgoing model, but at the same time it looks sharper. I mean that quite literally. The body creases are sharper, the front grille is edgier and the interior has a more hi-tech look. The result is a more up-market style that must be taking the Tiguan quite close to Audi territory.
The new Tiguan is also noticeably bigger. At 4486mm it is 60mm longer and 30mm wider at 1839mm. The one dimension that has shrunk is the overall height which is 46mm lower at 1657mm. This step up in size would fit with making space for the rumoured smaller Volkswagen SUV. US buyers will have to wait a little longer, but will find their Mexico-produced Tiguan will be a little bigger again when it comes out next year.
The Tiguan’s increase in length and width translates into a more spacious interior, with more legroom and elbow room. Good adjustment on the seat and the steering wheel, plus well-placed pedals, meant I was able to quickly find an ideal driving position.
Rear-seat passengers benefit too. I tend to drive with my seat at, or near, its rearmost position. So it is something of an acid test to see if I can fit in the back with the front seat in that position. The good news is that I can. There is also added flexibility between passenger and load space, with the rear seats now sliding up to 170mm and gaining the ability to recline.
A pleasant surprise was to find that this model comes with a luxury normally only found on luxury saloons. The driver’s seat has a massage function to keep you comfortable and soothed on a long journey!
Despite a clamp-down on diesels in some quarters, Volkswagen still expect 95% of Tiguan sales to be diesel. Diesel options begin with a 114 bhp 2-litre, but the test car was one step up the power ladder with the 148 bhp version. For those who want more power still, there is the 187 bhp bi-turbo. Petrol options include 1.4-litre and 2-litre versions.
Prices begin at £22,510 for the Tiguan S 1.4TSI with front-wheel-drive and rise to £39,050 for the top-of-the-range Tiguan R-line 2-litre 240PS bi-turbo with ‘4Motion’ four-wheel-drive and DSG gearbox.
The test car was the Tiguan SEL 2.0 150PS 4Motion BMT, just one step down from the top-of-the-range R-Line models. (BMT stands for Bluemotion Technology in case you are wondering.) With a manual box this costs £31,320 on the road, but the Tiguan I tested had a seven-speed DSG gearbox, which ups the price by £1,900.
For me DSG is an attractive option. It’s great to be able leave the gearbox to its own devices in traffic and, when you do get an empty bit of inspiring tarmac, you can either use the paddles to change gear, or simply select ‘sport’. In ’sport’ mode the DSG brain has an almost uncanny ability to know exactly what gear you want, even changing down as you enter corners.
The ‘4Motion’ four-wheel-drive system now offers different driving modes depending on the terrain or the road conditions. These are selected with a rotary control on the console.
One of the benefits of an SUV is the feeling of confidence that your vehicle will be able to tackle a range of conditions, including muddy fields and snow. But, if purchase cost and running costs are your primary concern you might want to consider the front-wheel-drive versions. The front-wheel-drive version of this vehicle has a combined fuel consumption that is 18% better than the four-wheel drive, while the carbon dioxide emissions are 16% less.
This is one of the only cars in its class where you can adjust the suspension and it was an option we quickly used. Your granny might like the ‘normal’ mode, but we found it just a bit too floaty. Things felt significantly better in ‘sports’ and, although you inevitably feel a bit remote from the tarmac in an SUV, the Tiguan gives reasonable feedback.
Refinement seems to have benefitted considerably with this new model and we felt it was notably quieter than the outgoing Tiguan, with the engine only making its presence under power.
The main reason to buy a Tiguan is for its practicality and comfort, which this new model enhances. It is also a more attractive car, thanks to that the step upmarket. That is good news if you like the finer things in life. But, inevitably that has meant a bit of a hike in the price. Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 2.0 TDI BMT 4Motion DSG
Carbon dioxide emissions: 149 g/km
Combined fuel economy 49.6 mpg
Top speed: 125 mph
0-62: 9.3 secs
Power 150 bhp
Engine size 1968cc diesel
Boot capacity 615/1655 litres (rear seat up/folded)