VW Tiguan

Strong image and all-round appeal make 4WD a real contender

The Volkswagen Tiguan is set to be the X1’s fiercest rival – and it’s easy to see why. Both models aim to mix car-like agility with rugged SUV styling and a premium image.

The VW certainly has the credentials to claim victory here. In a recent test of eco-friendly off-roaders the Tiguan saw off some very capable competitors to take the spoils. And it has price on its side. At £22,745, our four-wheel-drive SE test car undercuts the rear-driven BMW by £1,460. So, can the VW notch up a second victory?

On first impressions, it has its work cut out. Compared with the low-slung BMW and rakish Kuga, the upright Tiguan lacks visual clout. On the other hand, the tall ride height and chunky black cladding won’t upset buyers wanting a traditional SUV.

Its restrained lines and neat chrome detailing help to create an image of understated class. It’s a similar story inside, where you’ll find a versatile and well built cabin. The dashboard is lifted straight out of the Golf Plus, so you get a logical layout, solid construction and a range of top-drawer materials.

Better still, the high-set seating position provides the driver with a commanding view of the road.

It’s clear the VW’s interior has been designed with family motorists in mind, because it’s easily the most versatile of our trio. You’ll find plenty of storage, including under-seat trays and four large door bins.

The 60/40 sliding rear seats allow you to maximise legroom or luggage space. Even with the chairs pushed right back, the boot features a healthy 470-litre capacity – that’s a significant 110 litres more than the Kuga offers.

While the Tiguan looks like a tough off-roader, it drives more like a family hatchback. Direct steering, four-wheel-drive traction and good body control combine to deliver surprising agility.

And although the ride is firm, it copes with bumps better than the stiffly sprung BMW. However, it can’t match the X1 for driving involvement, and the Ford provides sharper responses.

The Tiguan falls further behind against the clock. Its gruff 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine hauls the car from 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds – a full 2.4 seconds slower than the 2.0-litre BMW. On the road, the differences are more difficult to detect, although the VW’s sudden power delivery does take a little getting used to.

When it won our green off-roader test, the VW saw off larger 4WD rivals. But here, it’s the only all-wheel-drive model, so its 167g/km CO2 output isn’t as competitive.

If you go for the cheaper front-driven model, that figure drops to 155g/km.

Beautifully built, with a versatile cabin and attractive price, the Tiguan is a desirable choice. It lacks the sporty looks of the Kuga and the involving handling of the X1, but you can understand why BMW bosses regard this as the closest direct competitor for their new car.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: A strong image and versatile cabin make the 4x4 VW a fine choice for families.

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