Volkswagen Tiguan review
This is a great urban SUV that handles well and is beautifully built.
The Tiguan is similar to other Golf-based models. The pedals and gearlever are accurate and perfectly weighted, the handling reassuring and precise. With sharper steering, better body control and more grip than many rivals, the VW is capable on country roads and, unlike some off-roaders, it’s never cumbersome around town. The ride is firm but, thanks to absorbent damping, it is rarely crashy over rough surfaces and remains composed at speed. Traction is excellent, too, as the 4MOTION system varies torque between the axles for maximum grip. The 2.0-litre common-rail diesel is expected to be popular, and is a big improvement over the old pump-jet unit, particularly in terms of refinement. There are also clever, punchy 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre TSI petrols.
Volkswagen’s first compact SUV is a generic VW design, with a Golf-style grille and lights added to a squared-off body. It comes across as a solid compact-SUV, but there’s nothing particularly exciting about the shape. It’s neither rugged nor individual. Buyers have a single five-door bodystyle to choose from. Road-biased trims are expected to be more popular, following VW logic by comprising S, SE and Sport model ranges. Rivals include the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander, Ford Kuga and entry-level versions of the BMW X3.
Clear controls, comfortable seats and a wide range of driving position adjustment ensure that the Tiguan is easy to get on with. The dash design is similar to that in the Golf Plus, and an electronic parking brake frees up space for stowage on the centre console. Add this to large cubbies and deep door pockets, and the driving environment scores well for practicality. All-round visibility is excellent, even though you don’t sit as high as in some compact SUV rivals. Rear space isn’t as good as some alternatives, though, and a high boot floor means it carries just 395 litres as standard. That’s disappointing, but the rear seats do split and slide 60:40. Prices are closely matched to competitors, which isn’t always the case for a VW, while standard equipment is generous and the retained value of just below 60 per cent is one of the best we’ve seen for a compact SUV. Quoted economy figures are fair, but we returned a disappointing 29.5mpg from our test drive in the 2.0-litre TDI 140.