Volkswagen Tiguan review
This is Volkswagen’s first compact SUV, but is it a genuine off-roader or simply a tall riding Golf?
Styling/Image It’s not hard to understate the allure of the prestigious VW logo. For many buyers it stands apart from the likes of Ford, Vauxhall and Toyota, but if you take the badge off the Tiguan and there’s little to get excited about. Its conservative lines are what we’ve come to expect from the brand and it looks more like a tall-riding family car than a genuine off-roader. Buyers who need its all-wheel drive capability can choose the Escape model. It features a unique front bumper that includes a sump guard and improves the approach angle from 18 degrees to 28 degrees.
Interior/Practicality The Tiguan’s compact dimensions have obvious implications for the interior. Most small off-roaders make practical family cars, but the Tiguan provides few benefits above an ordinary Golf. Its 395-litre boot is below average in this class and rear legroom is far from generous. At least the cabin is up to VW’s usual high standards for quality. Its neat and logical layout, classy materials and substantial switchgear all lend it a solid feel – but equipment levels aren’t generous and low spec models are poorly kitted out.
Engine/Performance Buyers get the choice of three engines – but don’t ignore the petrol option. The firm’s clever turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI unit is suited to the Tiguan, with plenty of torque and reasonable fuel economy. However, higher mileage drivers will prefer the diesel options, which include 138bhp and 168bhp versions of the firm’s common rail 2.0-litre TDI. Opt for the 1.4 TSI or entry-level diesel and you can even choose a more economical two-wheel drive transmission.
Driving experience Few buyers are likely to use a Tiguan for heavy-duty off-roading but with VW’s tried and tested 4MOTION four-wheel drive set-up the SUV is easily capable of light off-road duties. On tarmac the light controls and tall driving position combine with compact proportions to make it easy to drive. It is agile and all three engines provide plenty of performance. Predictably, the Tiguan isn’t as accomplished to drive as the Ford Kuga, but our only significant gripe from behind the wheel is the firm ride comfort.
Ownership costs The Tiguan line-up isn’t cheap and equipment levels aren’t exactly generous, but strong resale values help to compensate. Running cost are not helped by high CO2 emissions or expensive servicing costs – but you have to remember this is an off-roader. Reasonable fuel consumption helps to balance the books - the 138bhp diesel provides combined economy of 39.2mpg.
Safety/Environment A five-star Euro NCAP rating for occupant protection says it all really. The Tiguan scored 90 points overall, which is an impressive performance for a compact SUV. However, no small off-roader is going to be an environmentally friendly option. The two-wheel drive variants are predictably the least polluting choices and the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel produces CO2 emissions of only 155g/km.
Our choice: 2.0TDI SE