Volkswagen Tiguan

Base-spec version of VW's new compact SUV offers added mud-plugging ability.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The entry-level Tiguan powerplant is no poor relation to the impressive oil-burner, because the clever TSI engine provides decent all-round performance. Few buyers are ever likely to need the Escape’s reprofiled front end, but the VW’s classy cabin holds universal appeal. Smart looks and compact dimensions will attract car and 4x4 drivers alike, which leaves the high list price as the only significant complaint.

Diesel or petrol? When it comes to SUVs, there’s usually only one answer, and we’ve already been impressed by Volkswagen’s new Tiguan off-roader in oil-burning guise. Now we’ve put the entry-level petrol model to the test, in off-road Escape trim.

Unlike S, SE and Sport models, the Tiguan Escape features a new front end that boosts its off-road ability. Its chinless front bumper improves ground clearance and incorporates a sump guard to boost under-body protection. The result is less stylish than the standard design, but it’s effec­tive, improving the approach angle from 18 degrees to 28.

Inside, changes to Escape trim are less obvious, but you get a compass and ‘off-road’ button as standard. The latter activates the hill descent assistant and optimises the ABS and throttle response to suit extreme driving conditions. On 1.4-litre TSI versions, it also ensures that the supercharger is permanently engaged to boost low-down power.

With 240Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, the unit is more than up to the task of hauling the Tiguan around, while refinement is impressive. Fuel economy of 33mpg is reasonable and CO2 emissions of 199g/km put the Tiguan on a par with the front-wheel-drive Nissan Qashqai.

On the road, the VW feels agile, and has car-like hand­ling with very little body roll. For owners likely to venture off-road, the 4MOTION all-wheel drive set-up provides more than enough ability.

Whatever you need a Tiguan for, on this evidence the entry-level petrol unit isn’t just here to make up the numbers. And for low-mileage drivers, it could be a sensible alternative to the more expensive diesel version.

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