Volkswagen Tiguan review
The Tiguan might look expensive, but it delivers a desirable package of practicality, tech and quality
If your looking for fun you should look elsewhere, but VW's second-generation Tiguan is good at the things that matter in this class. It's an extremely well-rounded package, lacking a bit of personality but ticking lots of boxes.
The Tiguan is not particularly exciting to drive, but neither are many of its closest rivals. Where it is designed to work well, it thrives. There’s acres 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.
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.
Behind the VW Golf and Polo hatchbacks, the high-riding Tiguan is the best selling Volkswagen in the UK. The combination of practicality, performance and versatility has made it a real hit, so there’s a lot of expectation with the arrival of the second-generation model.
Outside, inside and under the skin VW has made big changes to ensure the Tiguan can keep up with rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, Renault Kadjar and Ford Kuga. The design is more muscular, the cabin has had a tech overhaul and the engines are now cleaner and use less fuel than before.
As a result, the Tiguan is longer and wider than the old version, but also lower, which makes it more practical. The boot is 520 litres but you can slide the rear seats forward to increase space to 615 litres if you need to carry more luggage.
There’s a whole range of engines to choose from, but a massive 95 per cent of sales in the UK will be diesel. There’s an entry-level 114bhp 2.0-litre diesel, but the 148bhp and 187bhp versions will prove the more popular – a powerful 237bhp 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel is also on the list but not expected to be the volume seller. If a smooth petrol engine is what you need, a 178bhp 2.0-litre turbo is available, alongside the 1.4 TSI in 123bhp and 148bhp guise.
VW is also likely to add a plug-in hybrid version of the Tiguan to the range later in the year, which will have huge appeal to company car drivers thanks to CO2 emissions approaching 50g/km.
In terms of spec, you can choose from entry-level S trim, well-equipped SE, SE Nav, SE L and flagship R-Line models, but be warned, prices start higher than rivals and climb from there.
Entry-level S models can be had with two-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, but VW expects a large proportion of buyers to go for higher spec 4MOTION all-wheel drive models fitted with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive is a £1,600 option.
Engines, performance and drive
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes in four-wheel and front-wheel drive versions, both being comfortable and capable on the road. This is thanks to great adjustability in the driver's seat and steering wheel, while visibility is great, so it's easy to find the ideal driving position.
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The primary job of an SUV of this type is to be comfortable, practical and easy to live with; as a result, cars like the Tiguan aren’t the most engaging or sporty to drive.
Where it is designed to work well, the Tiguan thrives. We’ve only driven diesel models so far – which will account for 95 per cent of sales – but the new engines are smooth and powerful. There’s no escaping the infamous diesel shudder on start up but the engine soon settles and power is delivered smoothly.
The Tiguan is one of the only SUVs at this price point to come with the option of adjustable dampers, which allow you to tailor the car’s suspension setup. It means the Tiguan is one of the most refined SUVs in it class when cruising, but on bumpier tarmac, without the optional adaptive dampers the ride can feel a little choppy. The steering is a little light, but despite being a slab-sided SUV, the Tiguan doesn’t roll excessively through the corners.
Here, the diesels make the most sense; they're refined and offer the best mix of economy and performance.
The most economical engine is the least-powerful unit on offer. Interestingly. VW isn't offering its usual 1.6 TDI as the cheapest diesel, instead detuning its 2.0 TDI unit. With 114bhp, it does 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.
The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel takes 9.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph, which is quick enough, but it oddly feels flatter than its less powerful rivals, backed up by our own independent performance figures. If that bothers you, the more responsive 187bhp unit should do the trick.
You can go one further than even that, however. 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 gets the SUV from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a 142mph 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.
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A frugal plug-in hybrid model will be added to the range later in the year, promising 149mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 49g/km – providing you have regular access to a charging point.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
If you want to keep running costs to a minimum but not sacrifice performance too much we'd opt for the middling 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI model – this returns around 55mpg and emits around 140g/km of CO2, meaning road tax payments will be bearable. To help conserve fuel, most models come with stop/start technology.
The most frugal variant in the Tiguan's range is the 114bhp 2.0 diesel: It manages 60.1mpg in the claimed combined cycle and emits 115g/km. That's not particularly impressive given even a 2.2-litre Mazda CX-5 can manage better figures. Perhaps VW has been forced to be more honest than before after the 'dieselgate' scandal.
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. For the 148bhp model, that means mpg drops to 49mpg and emission increase to 149g/km, which bumps the Tiguan up another tax bracket.
The top 237bhp diesel only manages 45mpg and emits a substantial 167g/km, which is bettered by even the 3.0-litre diesel Jaguar F-Pace.
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 only petrol available in the UK at the moment is the 178bhp 2.0-litre TSI, but what hits fuel economy even more is that it is only available with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox. That means economy of 38.7mpg and emissions of 169g/km attracts an annual road tax bill of £210, which could put off buyers.
When Volkswagen launches the plug-in hybrid model, it will become the most efficient Tiguan in the range. It should be able to travel around 20 miles on electric power alone at up to speeds of 70mph, but maybe not at the same time.
Insurance groups are yet to be announced for the Tiguan but we don’t expect a big shift from the current model’s bands of 14 to 18.
Again, the Tiguan is too new for residual values to have been confirmed; the old model faired quite well and buyers could expect their car to retain around 51 per cent of its value over a three-year period.
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Interior, design and technology
The old Volkswagen Tiguan was beginning to look its age alongside more modern opposition such as the Range Rover Evoque and Renault Kadjar, but this new model will now certainly appeal to a very style conscious market. It brings a sleeker front bumper, a more intricate headlight design with daytime running lights and LED taillights.
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes in four main specifications, including the entry-level S model, SE, SE Nav, SEL and top-of-the-range R-Line 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 SE trim and VW will throw in larger 18-inch alloys, electric folding mirrors, parking sensors, cruise control and Apple CarPlay. However, if you want sat-nav you’ll have to upgrade to SE Nav.
Off-road models come with underbody protection and bigger approach and departure angles for those wanting to make the most of the car’s off-roading potential. The range-topping R-Line cars get bi-xenon headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, sportier front and rear bumpers plus two-tone sport seats for a sharper look.
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.
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One of the biggest changes inside the Tiguan is the availability of a new 12.3-inch Active Info Display, which replaces the conventional analogue instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. With a TFT screen. It uses digital dials that can be configured to show navigation updates, vehicle settings and media information.
Apple CarPlay also allows owners to have the interface of their smartphone mirrored on the central touchscreen, which can show music, messages and navigation info.
Practicality, comfort and 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 4x4 standards but there is a lot more passenger space inside than you’ll find in the Skoda Yeti or Nissan Qashqai.
The new model is 60mm longer and 30mm wider than before, which doesn’t sound like much but you can now comfortably fit three adults in the back. The boot 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.
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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 now also more spacious for rear passengers than the Ford Kuga and Renault Kadjar.
The Tiguan is also lower than before but 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 and Safety
The outgoing Volkswagen Tiguan finished a lowly 92nd out of the 150 cars that scored in the 2016 Driver Power survey, which may be partially down to the car's age. While the new model is only just being delivered to customers, we can expect the Tiguan to creep up through the ratings thanks to a bigger focus on quality and refinement.
As a manufacturer, Volkswagen finished in 24th position out of the 32 brands rated. That was a fall of two places over its ranking in the last survey which could come down to the fact VW has been embroiled in the emissions scandal which could have dented consumer confidence in the brand.
What could be more concerning is that VW ranked 29th out of 32 manufacturers for reliability, which is a worry for brands known for producing durable cars.
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However, when it comes to safety the Tiguan scores better. The old model received the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, with a score of 87 per cent for adult occupant protection and 71 per cent in the safety assist category.
The version has carried on where the old one left off, scoring a maximum five-star rating again, including an excellent 96 per cent adult occupant safety rating.
Like any other VW on sale, the Tiguan comes with an industry standard three-year/60,00 mile warranty. There is also the option of extending that time period for a fee.
Service intervals are flexible, but VW recommends that the Tiguan is serviced every year or between 10,000 and 18,000miles. But this could vary depending on how the car is being driven.