Buying a compact SUV has never been harder, with a bewildering choice of vehicles to pick from. A raft of new arrivals has seen the VW Tiguan drop down the pecking order lately, but the revised car has arrived just in time to take advantage of the winter rush.
With long-term weather forecasters predicting snowfall in the UK before the end of the month, we decided to test the all-wheel-drive Tiguan 2.0 TDI 4MOTION in SE trim. It costs £25,645, and the facelifted off-roader builds on the foundations of the original, but adds updated looks, a refreshed engine line-up and a wider range of optional extras. Will this be enough to see off the Kia Sportage?
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Tiguan
The Kia has yet to be beaten in an Auto Express road test, and the top-of-the-range all-wheel-drive KX-3 is cheaper than the Tiguan, at £24,625. As we have come to expect from Kia, it’s loaded with kit, and includes luxuries such as heated leather seats and cruise control as standard. And don’t forget the brilliant seven-year warranty back-up...
Look at the official figures, and these two should be closely matched against the clock and at the pumps, so it promises to be a close contest. The Tiguan used to set the template as the fuel-efficient compact SUV of choice, but the Kia isn’t exactly thirsty, and its head-turning looks give the Sportage a unique selling point in this sector.
Will that be enough to help it claim victory here, or will the polished Volkswagen take the honours...?
If this test was all about driving dynamics, the Tiguan would be the stand-out performer. The way it copes with everything from crowded city streets to twisty country lanes is deeply impressive. And there’s more to the VW than hot hatch handling. Its sliding rear seats allow you to make the most of the cabin and, thanks to the latest revisions, you can now take advantage of even more hi-tech kit. Yet that’s not enough to guarantee a win for the new-look Tiguan, as the Sportage secures a well deserved victory. Its seven-year warranty and sporty looks take many of the plaudits, but the Kia is a car with hidden talents. Not only is it big, practical and good to drive, but it promises to hold its value even more effectively than the VW. And while lower-spec models arguably offer even more value, the KX-3 represents a lot of car for the cash. The Tiguan is good; the Kia is even better.
1. Kia Sportage 2.0 CRDi KX-3 AWD
Another victory for the Sportage. The 2.0 CRDi is strong and capable, and its 4x4 drivetrain provides more than enough off-road ability. But what really sets it apart is the way it looks; inside and out. When combined with traditional Kia qualities such as value and customer service, the striking design makes for a winning formula.
2. VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI 140 SE 4MOTION
It won’t win many fans for the way it looks, but the Tiguan drives brilliantly, is cleverly packaged and beautifully finished inside. The bad news is that this comes at too high a price. It costs more than the Kia, yet has much less kit. We love the way it drives, but it has to take second place here.