Volkswagen Tiguan vs Kia Sportage

Volkswagen Tiguan vs Kia Sportage
Credits: Pete Gibson
10 Oct, 2011 5:18pm

With winter on the way, interest in four-wheel-drive crossovers is on the up once again. We compare the facelifted VW Tiguan to the 4x4 Kia Sportage

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.

Disqus - noscript

The stranglehold of VW has been broken, finally people can now start to see that VW cars are no better than anything else on the market. Well done Kia!

So .... the Tiguan has better steering, ride, visibility, brakes, boot space versatility, CO2, interior space, stop start.

The Kia supposedly looks better and has more kit.

How the hell does it win, then?

Thanks for your comment. As you can imagine, it was a very tight battle.

The way the Sportage looks was a key factor, but it's also great value and Kia's customer service is one of the best on the market. The Tiguan drives brilliantly but it costs more and comes with less equipment. The Sportage wins overall but both are great buys.

Hope that helps!
Auto Express

The SE version of the Skoda Yeti which uses the same engine as the Tiguan (minus stop/start) comes in at £20,805. Is as good to drive, slightly faster and shares many parts with the VW. Shame it wasn't aslo inclued in this test.
What AE needs to do, is a massive 'crossover' test with a new crossover coming onto the market seemingly every month?

Like frenchpress2 mentions above, its hard to consider the Tiguan when the Yeti provides more for less money - you can even get the 170BHP 2.0 diesel engine with the Yeti for less money than what this Tiguan costs.

I like the way the Sportage looks, it's warranty and how its as good to drive as a car like this needs to be, but the Yeti would be a tougher test.

So as a buyer, why am I concerned about how it looks when I cannot see that from the driving seat?
Surely I am concerned about the things that make the VW stand out.

As it happens, i think the Kia looks ugly, and its roof slopes so fast I think it must be hard to see out of the small back window properly. It strikes me as if reversing would be dangerous.

If I find something pleasant to look at, I don't expect everyone to agree with me. It's called an opinion and is neither right or wrong.

I like my cars to look good because they sit on my drive when I'm not driving them and I think good design is something to be admired.

I wouldn't live in an ugly house just because I can't see the ugly exterior from my lounge.

The only reaon the VW handles better is the same reason that all VW's handle well - VW only knows how to make cars with stiff suspension and overly firm ride. I have driven both. I would put my money on the Kia any day over the VW. It is also years ahead in terms of interior and exterior styling. Quality is better too. Having said that, I went for a Hyundai. Quality is way ahead of VW.

Looks are a matter of opinion, the Sportage has a good front-end but the back is clumsy. I've had my Tiggy for over 5 years and I think it still looks classy. It has been a great car for me, second only to my old A6. Now I am thinking of swapping only the Mazda CX-5 offers real competition, with a fantastic engine/gearbox - and it looks far better than blinged-up Sportages.