Road Test: Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 2.0 TDI (190PS) 4MOTION
The top-spec Tiguan has taken a step up among the premium brands, explains Alex Grant.
SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £37,060 FUEL: 49.6mpg CO2: 149g/km
Launched in 2008, the first-generation Tiguan arrived just in time for Volkswagen to take advantage of the Qashqai-led boom in compact crossovers. Bigger, more powerful and more technology-rich, its successor might be about to jump onto the crest of a different wave.
It has some big shoes to fill. The Tiguan’s early arrival paid dividends, and sales climbed through its lifecycle as drivers and fleets got used to the soft-road concept and moved out of traditional Golf and Passat-sized estates and MPVs. In its final full year on sale, the old Tiguan was the brand’s third-biggest seller after the Golf and Polo, taking around 10% of UK volume. Roughly half of them went to fleets.
Volkswagen’s unique ability to straddle volume and premium brands puts the new one in an interesting position. In top R-Line spec it’s in the price and performance level to take on premium crossovers like the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, though the latter two are smaller. It’s perhaps an intentional move on Volkswagen’s part to separate it from the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq, which launched shortly afterwards. But it also puts it in a growing part of the market.
While £37,000 for a Golf-based crossover might sound eye-watering, aesthetically at least it’s more than up to the job. With its sports bodykit, 20-inch wheels and lashings of aluminium trim throughout the beautifully built, soft-touch cabin, it feels every but the premium contender. R-Line versions also get the digital instrument cluster as standard, which puts navigation, media and telephony just below the driver’s line of sight. All it’s missing, at this price point, is leather seats.
For a segment that’s largely style-driven, Tiguan drivers do tend to use the car properly. So 90% of UK sales are expected to take the 148bhp, 188bhp or 237bhp 2.0-litre TDI engines, and it’s only the least powerful of the three which is offered with two-wheel drive. At 129g/km it’s a solid company car option, albeit not best in segment, but the 188bhp 2.0 TDI tested here puts it right at the heart of the premium crossover segment’s volume-sellers.
And not only in terms of performance. Volkswagen’s ubiquitous TDI engine is impeccably quiet and rumble-free in the Tiguan, even under load, and it delivers strong acceleration across a large spread of the rev range. Residual values are up to premium standards and, while fuel economy just short of 50mpg isn’t class-leading, it is achievable. It can decouple the engine and “coast” at idle even at motorway speeds, which helps.
The Tiguan also scores well for functionality; the boot holds around a third more luggage than its predecessor, and there’s more room for occupants all round. Three quarters of UK sales take 4MOTION four-wheel drive, and this includes slightly raised ride height as well as selectable drive modes to tackle loose or slippery surfaces, as well as a 2.5-tonne towing capacity. It’s not likely to be a regular jaunt on 20-inch wheels and with a bodykit to snag on rocks, but it can do it when it needs to. Cast any scepticism aside; this is every bit a premium SUV.
What we think:
A noticeable step upmarket for the Tiguan, both in terms of price and model range, but it’s one matched by premium-marque prices. Volkswagen has a lot in its favour, but it’s got plenty of competition to fend off.
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