Used Volkswagen Tiguan Mk1 review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Volkswagen Tiguan covering the Tiguan Mk1 (2008-2016)
It’s not the most exciting car, but the Tiguan provides a generally painless ownership experience. We ran a 2.0 TDI for over 15,000 miles and 12 months, and it proved a hit. Capable of over 40mpg (some owners get 50mpg-plus), the Tiguan impressed with its high-speed refinement, classy cabin and excellent practicality. But there are cheaper compact SUVs that are also fine used buys. Still, the VW is easy to recommend if you’re not heading off road; while it’s a talented car, it’s better when driven on the tarmac.
Volkswagen didn’t rush to build its first SUV, but when it did – in the shape of the Touareg, which reached dealers in 2003 – it hit the spot. The Touareg was a big car, though; the brand needed something smaller and more affordable to make an impact with 4x4 fans. That’s just what it did with the Tiguan, which arrived here nine years ago.
In typical VW fashion it featured a rather conservative design inside and out, plus it wasn’t much fun to drive. Yet it was well built, easy to live with and came with some fine engines and transmissions, which is why it proved a hit. The original was replaced in 2016 by a new car, but now a Mk1 Tiguan can be yours from £6,000.
Volkswagen Tiguan Mk1
The Tiguan arrived in February 2008 with a 1.4 TSI petrol or 138bhp 2.0 TDI diesel; a 168bhp 2.0 TDI followed two months later.
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There were initially S, SE and Sport trims; R-Line was added in April 2009 and Match replaced SE in May 2010. Meanwhile, Escape models were more capable off road; they had underbody protection, hill descent control and a revised nose for a steeper approach angle.
From autumn 2008 there was a 2.0 TSI in 168bhp or 198bhp guises. The Tiguan initially came with 4WD only; from November 2008 there were 1.4 TSI and 2.0 TDI 140 front-wheel-drive options. A facelift in September 2011 brought a 2.0 TDI 110, more efficient engines and extra driver assistance systems.
Which one should I buy?
Most Tiguans are diesels, and you want one of these if you’ll be towing; just ensure any purchase has had the diesel emissions fix carried out. But don’t overlook the petrol engines; they’re not too thirsty and cost less to service (even if road tax bills are higher).
All examples come with alloys, ESP, climate control, powered windows all round, electrically adjustable mirrors and remote locking. SE/Match spec adds Bluetooth, parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and a DAB radio, while Sport models have 18-inch wheels. R-Line Tiguans get 19-inch alloys, body styling and firmer suspension; check the ride is bearable before buying.
The factory-fitted integral hitch works brilliantly if you’re towing; other desirable options include a panoramic glass roof and DSG semi-automatic transmission, although the manual gearboxes are more durable.
Alternatives to the VW Tiguan Mk1
The Subaru Forester (2012 on) was the next best ranked model, finishing eighth overall thanks to its reliability, build quality and practicality. Skoda’s Yeti came first or second in the survey five times in a row so it’s a brilliant all-rounder; it dropped to 16th in 2016. For value it’s hard to beat the Ford Kuga, which is good to drive and in plentiful supply; Mazda’s CX-5 shares these attributes. Also consider the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai ix35, which are fine choices.
What to look for
The power steering can fail, especially in sub-zero temperatures. A control unit failure is usually to blame, but it can be the steering rack itself.
The electronic parking brake can refuse to release. This can be because the driver’s seatbelt isn’t latched, or the clutch isn’t fully depressed.
Faulty electrics can be down to damaged fuseboxes, which have been known to melt because of the high currents being passed through them.
Check that the air-conditioning or climate control works properly. If not, it may be due to switchgear failure rather than the compressor.
Not only is the Tiguan’s cabin as conservatively designed as you expect from a VW, it’s also easy to use, comfortable and feels durable. Space in the rear is good; the rear seat slides back and forth for added versatility. Boot capacity stands at 505 litres with the seat up or 1,510 litres when it’s folded.
Check out the latest used prices for the Volkswagen Tiguan on our sister site Buyacar.
The Tiguan offers fixed (12 months/10,000 miles) or variable (up to two years/20,000 miles) service intervals. Costs for the latter vary, but expect to pay £164 for a minor check-up on the fixed-rate plan and £329 for a major one.
A new cambelt is needed on all diesels every five years or 130,000 miles, for £434; petrol engines are chain-driven. Fresh brake fluid is needed after three years then every two years, at £64, while coolant is checked every service and topped up as necessary; there’s no schedule for replacement. A biennial air-con service costs £80.
The Tiguan has been recalled four times. The first, in July 2008, related to an electrical short circuit in the auxiliary cabin heater on diesels. Then in December 2011, 2.0 TDIs built from 2009-11 were recalled over a potential fuel leak.
Failure of the child door lock mechanism on Tiguans produced between November 2015 and April 2016 led to a further recall in June 2016. And last month, VW called back examples built from August to October 2016 because of the risk of the front seatbacks failing in the event of a collision. On top of this, check that 2.0 TDI models have had the diesel emissions fix.