Even before I took the keys to our long-term Volkswagen Tiguan, I felt I knew it intimately.
The compact SUV has had a succession of road test appearances, as well as long-term reports carried out by its previous custodians, road tester Lesley Harris and art director Darren Wilson. So I was well versed in the little off-roader’s quirks and qualities. In fact, I’d done more reading about the Tiguan than driving.
The Volkswagen has just departed our fleet, but in recent weeks it has provided practical transport for the Strong family – and made light of this winter’s severe weather, with a daily commute of around 60 miles.
As Lesley had reported previously, the Tiguan is refined at cruising speed, and has a slick gearchange. I was also impressed by its return at the pumps. Despite its bluff nose and tall driving position, I easily recorded 43.2mpg on one run.
And, like Darren, I found the VW stalled very easily – especially when driving around town. Its heavy all-wheel-drive transmission and punchy 2.0-litre TDI engine are not a great combination. The diesel lacks the low-down urge needed to get the wheels turning, and you have to dial in quite a few revs to pull away from junctions smoothly.
Now, with more than 15,000 miles on the clock, that characteristic has taken its toll on the clutch, which, despite being self adjusting, feels pretty worn. In addition, the drivetrain shunts noisily when you take your foot off the throttle.
The rear door handles and the Tiguan’s security-focused central locking system also proved a real headache. To unlock the car completely, you need to press the remote key fob twice in quick succession. If you don’t, only the driver’s door unlocks.
This can be doubly frustrating if you are trying to load your children into the cabin – often leaving you tugging at the handle of a locked rear door.
It’s possible to reprogramme the central locking to open all the doors with a single press, but the factory set-up is incredibly irritating. I can’t help but feel it may have led to damage on the rear door handles, too. Now, when they’re open, they stay jammed in a raised position, meaning it’s difficult to shut the door. Treating them with a fine lubricant didn’t seem to resolve the problem, either.
Despite these negatives, there have been few other question marks over our car’s build quality, and in all other respects, the VW has sailed through its long-term test.
It still feels every bit as well screwed together as the day it arrived. If only everything in life was a reliable as a Volkswagen? Well, nearly…
I've been really impressed by the Tiguan. It rides smoothly over rough roads, and is surprisingly practical.
It’s also very compact – ideal for negotiating crowded city streets. The VW’s tall driving position means plotting a route through gridlocked traffic is a breeze.
The self-parking system is effective, and its group test victory against a pair of eco SUVs shows it can take on a variety of roles.
Road test editor