Choosing an SUV needn’t mean you have to stomach big bills – and the updated Volkswagen Tiguan is out to prove the point. The revised off-roader now comes with a more fuel-efficient diesel, but it also gets some extra gadgets and a new look. If you can’t stretch to the pricey Range Rover Evoque, is this the next best compact 4x4 in its class?
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Tiguan
We drove what is set to be the most popular model – the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI, in eco-friendly and well equipped BlueMotion SE form. At £25,645, it’s a huge £2,500 more than Ford’s similarly powerful Kuga 2.0 TDCi Zetec, although strong residuals and slightly lower running costs will help claw back some of that deficit. The revised unit may have the same 138bhp and 320Nm of torque as before, but the BlueMotion badge brings stop-start. This boosts economy from 44.8mpg to 48.7mpg, while CO2 emissions have dropped from 164g/km to 150g/km, reducing road tax from £165 to £130.
In town, the stop-start is so smooth you barely notice the engine cutting out and firing up again. Low-rev response could be better – although that’s likely due to a combination of tall gearing, kerbweight and the 4Motion 4WD system – but mid-range punch is good with plenty of overtaking urge. The Tiguan is well mannered at motorway speeds – road and wind noise is minimal – and while the ride can be a little bouncy, the pay-off is sharp responses and the agility of a car. In fact, the overwhelming impression is that the Tiguan drives like a raised version of the Golf on which it is based, even if it’s not as much fun as a Kuga.
That 4Motion four-wheel-drive system ensures plenty of grip, and the Tiguan will easily cope with grassy car parks and soggy hillsides. Want to venture further off-road? The Escape version comes with a different front end to allow steeper approach angles. It’s easy to see where the facelifted Tiguan’s styling inspiration has come from. With that new grille and large lights, it looks closer than ever to a baby version of its big brother, the Touareg. Revised tail-lamps and tweaked chrome trim complete the visual changes, making for a classy and upmarket SUV.
Inside, little has changed – but that’s no bad thing. The Tiguan still features a quality cabin with a simple and easy-to-use layout, while our SE-trimmed variant came with plenty of standard equipment including Bluetooth, full iPod integration, climate control, DAB stereo, tyre-pressure monitors and rear parking sensors. Up front there is plenty of room for driver and passenger, while the rear bench can recline or slide forward and back over 16cm, allowing more legroom
or boot space. It’s a great feature that really makes the Tiguan stand out in the sector. What’s more, the 470-litre luggage area (which extends to 1,510 litres with the bench folded flat) is extremely impressive – and is much bigger than in the Ford.
There are also plenty of extras to choose from. A new Lane Assist system warns the driver when they stray out of their motorway lane without indicating, while you can also specify Light Assist, which automatically switches between dipped
and main beam depending on oncoming traffic. The very latest VW sat-nav system and a keyless entry and start set-up come in addition to clever and handy options such as Park Assist, which automatically steers the car into a parallel parking spot.
The Tiguan may not boast the desirability of a Range Rover Evoque, but it’s great to drive, has more off-road ability than buyers will ever need and doesn’t cost the earth to run. It’s a very impressive all-rounder.