Rugged new VW joins the rapidly growing compact SUV sector.
VW has got it right first time with the Tiguan. The company’s debut in the compact 4x4 world is impressive – and this 2.0-litre TDI SE model is the pick of the extensive range. Its capable engine strikes a fine balance between performance and economy, and standard equipment is good, too. Factor in the precise and comfortable driving experience, impressive amount of interior space and high-quality finish, and you’ve got an excellent SUV.
Ten years ago, if you wanted a compact SUV, you had two choices – a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V. These days, nearly every major motor manufacturer is heading off-road – and one of the most important new arrivals has been the Volkswagen Tiguan.
It’s the firm’s first-ever small 4x4, and is available in a wide range of models – but this 2.0-litre TDI SE version is expected to be one of the best-sellers. So, is it as good as the Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi?
Well, although the Tiguan’s VW badge gives it plenty of appeal, its sleek but inoffensive lines don’t carry quite as much weight as the sportier, more aggressive shape of the Ford.
Inside, it offers everything you’d expect from a VW, with classy materials, solid build quality and a commanding, spacious driving position. The rear seats even slide backwards and forwards to add versatility.
This SE version is well equipped. Front foglights, alloy wheels, chrome roof rails, a six-CD autochanger, climate control and handy rear picnic tables are all standard. Our car was also fitted with a new touchscreen sat-nav, which incorporates a rear parking camera and a music hard drive, although it’s pricey at £2,080.
With 4MOTION four-wheel drive and suspension from the Golf, it’s not surprising that the Tiguan handles well. While the steering isn’t as sharp as the Kuga’s, off-road there is enough ground clearance and traction to cope with the worst most owners will throw at the car.
The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit blends adequate levels of performance with respectable refinement, plus claimed fuel economy approaching 40mpg on the combined cycle.
So, is the new Tiguan a winner? Certainly. It’s one of the best of the current crop of compact 4x4s. Is it a more tempting proposition than the Kuga? Well, sporty drivers would be advised to go for the Ford. But those buyers looking for a high-quality SUV that drives like a family hatch- and comes with stacks of kit as standard will be more than satisfied with the VW.