Change of drivers means our compact SUV is now the talk of the town.
The long-term Tiguan has moved to the city! Road tester Lesley Harris used to look after the compact SUV, but a reshuffle has seen the VW change hands – so its regular commute from leafy Surrey has been replaced by a trawl through the crowded streets of south London.
Now, I know Lesley loved the Tiguan for its practicality and economy, but I experienced a few teething troubles in my first weeks behind the compact SUV’s wheel. It’s not an issue with the VW brand – my first car was a 1969 Beetle which I kept for 15 years – but I seem to be the only person who hasn’t fallen for the Tiguan.
My kids think the SUV is really cool, with its tough off-road looks, bright blue paint and leather upholstery. And they’re not alone – I can’t think of another car I’ve driven during my years at Auto Express that has attracted so many compliments.
Passengers just can’t seem to get enough of it! So, what is my problem? Well, for a start, I spend most of my time in congested south London and I don’t really need a four-wheel drive. I do enjoy the commanding driving position, which provides an excellent view of the road, but the Tiguan has a couple of irksome traits.
Firstly, its diesel engine stalls really easily. In the Peugeot Partner Tepee and Toyota Avensis Tourer I have been running in recent months, I could usually trickle out of junctions and feed into crawling traffic in second gear, using their diesel engines’ low-down torque. But the sharp clutch makes this impossible in the oil-burning VW. If you roll up to a junction and find the road empty, you have to stop, select first and then pull away – otherwise you risk jolting to a halt in the middle of the road. Even when you know this, it still catches you out – so the only way to avoid it is to effectively slip the clutch.
I also find the parking sensors really annoying. They certainly do the job, because they’re so incredibly loud. But in the narrow urban streets where I live, the sensors seem to sound constantly. And I’m loath to turn them off.
Then there’s the remote central locking. One press on the fob opens the driver’s door, but you have to plip it a second time to unlock all the others. I often forget and find myself standing next to the Tiguan, pressing the button over and over again until they pop open.
Yes, the parking sensors can be switched off and you can get a dealer to reprogramme the central locking to open with a single press. But they’re both daily irritants for me.
The electronic parking brake is less easy to fix. It’s awkward to use and provides no real benefit. Andrew English must have run a Tiguan before writing his column on Page 130!
With time, and a few longer trips, I expect the VW’s strong cruising ability and 35mpg fuel economy will win me over. But it hasn’t been the instant hit with me that it has with everyone else.
Driving an off-roader in the city may be frowned upon by environmentalists, but if you got behind the wheel of a car like the VW, you would soon realise the benefits. The long suspension travel absorbs even the worst potholes, and the tall ride height gives you a superior view of the road ahead.
But there’s something missing from the Tiguan package – sat-nav. The neat full-colour touchscreen on the centre console is for the radio only. To upgrade our SE model would cost £1,635.
Senior sub editor