The Tiguan isn’t a very exciting car to drive, but then neither are many of its closest crossover rivals. However, this second-generation model is good at many of the things that matter in its class. There’s lots of room inside for a growing family, the cabin is very well built and, although it’s a little dull inside, it’s now crammed full of the latest tech. Overall, this is an extremely well rounded package, and while it lacks personality, it ticks a lot of boxes.
It’s not cheap compared to the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga, though, as VW has priced the Tiguan above the ‘jacked-up Golf’ segment it used to compete in and more towards the likes of the BMW X3. It’s nearly as good as a premium SUV, but not quite – and that means the SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008 put it to shame for value while coming close in terms of quality.
The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan arrived in 2016, and it builds on the appeal of the original with extra kit, more technology and a premium image inspired by the seventh-generation Golf hatchback. In fact, the Tiguan is a big seller for VW, coming in third in the charts behind the Golf and Polo supermini. And just to demonstrate the Tiguan’s importance, it now comes in two body styles – the standard five-seat model and the seven-seat Tiguan Allspace.
Prices range from around £25,000 to almost £44,000, meaning most models cost £150 a year in road tax and don’t incur the extra charge (£325 between years 2-6) for vehicles priced over the £40,000 threshold. You need to be careful adding options to higher-spec models, as they could push prices beyond this.
If you take the plunge, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the quality and kit on offer, even if you can buy more spacious models for a similar price.
Engines, performance & drive
The Tiguan is based on the VW Group’s MQB platform, and it’s easy to spot the chassis’ traits here. The steering is precise and nicely weighted, which means you can make the most of the impressive grip on offer. However, the Tiguan doesn’t have the personality of the competition, and isn’t as enjoyable to drive as some of its rivals.
Part of that stems from the chassis. We’ve tested the car fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers, which deliver plenty of comfort in their softer setting over undulating country roads, but harsher bumps and potholes still send a shudder through the chassis.
The Skoda Kodiaq has a similar chassis, but its extra body mass and wheelbase length mean these impacts aren’t quite as noticeable as they are in the Tiguan, while the damping in a Mazda CX-5 is plusher and better controlled at higher speeds over rough roads.
However, the primary job of an SUV of this type is to be comfortable, practical and easy to live with, so cars like the Tiguan aren’t the most engaging or sporty to drive anyway.
The seven-speed DSG gearbox has closely stacked ratios which give the VW an advantage when accelerating. Only in its overdrive seventh gear does the Tiguan feel sluggish.
The biggest benefit of the adaptive dampers is the improvement in ride quality over the standard set-up: most of the time, the VW soaks up bumps with a soft-edged plushness. VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system features an Off-Road setting that tunes the traction control for maximum grip, but the lack of ground clearance and the use of summer tyres mean you won’t want to venture too far off the beaten track. The VW also leads when it comes to refinement, with good suppression of wind and engine noise.
Here, the diesels make the most sense; they’re refined and offer the best mix of economy and performance.
The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel takes 9.4 seconds to get from 0-62mph, which is quick enough, but it oddly feels flatter than less powerful rivals, backed up by our own independent performance figures. If that bothers you, the more responsive 187bhp unit should do the trick.
The 2.0 TDI unit feels relatively strong, although it trailed a Mazda CX-5 from 0-60mph when we tested it. Plus, its in-gear performance wasn’t as peppy as the CX-5’s; it was nearly a second slower than that car from 50-70mph in top gear.
It’s also not as refined. The Mazda features clever new piston pin tech that highlights the diesel rattle produced by the Tiguan, especially when the unit is cold or at higher revs. Despite using the same engine, a Skoda Kodiaq is quieter through the rev range and at a cruise.
The Tiguan’s manual gearbox is nice, though. The action is very similar to the Skoda’s, isolating you from the harsher feedback, but providing just the right level of interaction.
VW has taken its beefy 237bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine from the Passat and slotted it into the Tiguan. The results are profound – a full 500Nm of torque means its extra performance over the 187bhp model is most noticeable once the car’s rolling, even though it gets the SUV from 0-62mph in an impressive 6.2 seconds and on to a 143mph top speed. Nothing from Mazda, Nissan or Ford gets close, and that performance puts it in the ring with cars like the Jaguar F-Pace.
However, that does mean that this version of the Tiguan is very expensive, not least because this engine comes only with the most lavish trims. It’s also not as economical as the less powerful TDI models, and unless you really must have this level of performance or need to venture off-road, we don’t think it’s worth the extra it costs to buy and run.
MPG, CO2 & running costs
If you want to keep running costs to a minimum but not sacrifice performance too much we’d opt for the mid-range 148bhp 2.0 TDI – this returns around 40.9 to 50.4mpg and emits around 146 to 182g/km of CO2, depending on what trim you choose and if you prefer a manual or auto ‘box.
To help conserve fuel, most models come with stop/start technology.
As you’d probably expect, if you opt for four-wheel drive or an automatic gearbox, you’ll see a significant impact on running costs. The top 237bhp diesel only just breaks 35mpg on average and emits a substantial 210g/km of CO2.
Unsurprisingly, the petrol versions don’t fare so well, due to the heavy weight of the car combined with the reduction in pulling power. The 1.5 TFSI EVO is found right across the wider Volkswagen range, here emitting from 151g/km of CO2 and returning around 42mpg in 148bhp guise. The more powerful 187bhp 2.0-litre available only with four-wheel drive – emits from
204g/km and returns around 31mpg.
Insurance groups for the most mainstream models are between 13 to 18 – no great change over the previous model – but be warned: if you’re tempted by the most powerful 190 and 240 diesel models, you’ll be paying much more to insure them, as they sit in groups 23 and 28.
The Tiguan has competitive residuals, with an average across the range of 43% over three years and 36,000 miles. However, its high list prices mean that, in relative terms, it will lose more money than its rivals.
Interior, design & technology
The old Tiguan was beginning to look its age alongside more modern opposition such as the Range Rover Evoque and Renault Kadjar, but this model will appeal to a style-conscious market, especially in higher-spec trims. It brings a sleeker front bumper, a more intricate headlight design with daytime running lights, and LED tail-lights.
Overall, the design is much squarer, taking inspiration from the Golf and larger Touran MPV, with its sharp creases and solid surfaces.
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes in four main specifications, including the entry-level S model, Match, SEL and top-of-the-range R-Line Tech versions. Equipment levels in Volkswagen Tiguan S models are a bit sparse, but you do get air con, 17-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, automatic lights and lane-keeping assistance.
Step up to Match trim and VW will throw in larger 19-inch alloys, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, chrome exterior trim, sat-nav, keyless entry and a number of active driving aids.
SEL trim adds LED headlights, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, and a panoramic sunroof. R-Line Tech gets more or less the same upgrades but adds a sportier look to the car’s exterior, including a comprehensive body kit and 20-inch alloys.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The dashboard and infotainment system in the Tiguan will be very familiar to those who have driven a Golf or Passat. The design is more sensible than stylish, but everything is very logically laid out and simple to get along with.
S models get the eight-inch infotainment system that made its debut in the new Mk7.5 Golf, so there’s a smart-looking glossy screen flanked by touch-sensitive hot keys to navigate to the main areas of the infotainment system.
Also standard is the Car-Net App Connect set-up, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity, making services such as music streaming easier to use. VW’s Think Blue Trainer helps to boost your efficiency, plus you get Bluetooth, DAB and real-time traffic services.
You can upgrade to the Discover Nav Pro system, with a larger
9.2-inch screen which is backed by a 64GB SSD hard drive that means it calculates routes and updates much more quickly. There’s also a speed limit display, as well as the option to overlay Google Earth imagery onto the mapping, while gesture control is also included.
However, this is a bit of a gimmick; we’d save our money and spend it on the hi-tech 10.3-inch Active Info Display. This shows the sat-nav map in front of the driver as part of different customisable screens. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great feature that really sets the VW apart. SEL and R-Line Tech models get this as standard.
Practicality, comfort & boot space
With the Tiguan using the same VW MQB architecture as the Golf and Passat, the SUV is now much larger than it was before. It’s still relatively compact by 4×4 standards, but there is a lot more passenger space inside than you’ll find in a Nissan Qashqai.
The Mk2 Tiguan is 60mm longer and 30mm wider than the old car. That doesn’t sound like much, but you can comfortably fit three adults in the back.
The boot size has also increased to 520 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,655 litres with them folded.
If that isn’t enough, the rear seats slide up to 170mm and recline, allowing more space for extra luggage or passenger legroom as required.
Inside, there’s plenty of room for five adults to sit in comfort, with generous headroom and legroom throughout.
There’s also plenty of handy storage cubbies, with a big glovebox, large door bins and a deep central storage area under the armrest.
The Tiguan is longer and wider than the model it replaces, which automatically means there is more space inside than there was before.
And, while the car may not look huge, it’s actually one of the largest SUVs in its class; you can thank the neat proportions and chiseled lines which disguise its inflated size.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Because of the increase in size, there is now a lot more room inside for passengers. Being 60mm longer, legroom is now more generous than it was in the old model and it’s also more spacious for rear-seat passengers than the Ford Kuga and Renault Kadjar.
Despite this Tiguan being lower than the previous version, clever packaging means headroom is generous, with even the tallest of adults being comfortable in the back.
In its standard form, the boot measures in at 520 litres. If you need more space, you can slide the rear seats forward to increase carrying capacity to 615 litres; folding the rear seats down ups space to a maximum of 1,655 litres.
Reliability & safety
The Tiguan finished in 51st place out of 75 cars in the Auto Express 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Customers reported that the decent levels of safety kit were reassuring, but reliability and running costs could be better. As a manufacturer, Volkswagen finished in 17th position out of the 30 brands included in the survey.
Euro NCAP agreed with Tiguan customers and awarded the car a full five stars for safety. Adult occupant protection scored 96%, while overall security for child passengers was rated at 84%.
Like any other VW on sale, the Tiguan comes with an industry standard three-year/60,000 mile warranty. There is also the option of extending that time period for a set fee.
Service intervals are flexible, but VW recommends that the Tiguan is serviced every year or between 10,000 and 18,000 miles. But this could vary depending on how the car is being driven.
- Interior flexibility
- Premium cabin
- Not the most exciting drive
- Bland in lower specs
Price: £24,555 to £40,715
Source: ADI News
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