Volkswagen Tiguan review - Engines, performance and drive
The Tiguan is a capable cruiser, while new R and eHybrid models add extra strings to its bow
The Tiguan is based on the VW Group's MQB platform, and it’s easy to spot the chassis’ traits here. The steering is precise and nicely weighted, which means you can make the most of the impressive grip on offer.
However, the primary job of an SUV of this type is to be comfortable, practical and easy to live with, so cars like the Tiguan aren’t the most engaging or sporty to drive. The seven-speed DSG gearbox has closely stacked ratios which give the VW an advantage when accelerating, and only in its overdrive seventh gear does the Tiguan feel sluggish.
On the motorway it’s a decent cruiser, and VW has now also included a new (optional) Travel Assist function, which combines steering assistance and adaptive cruise control to allow semi-autonomous capability. It can operate when driving on single lane, motorway-style roads, keeping the car in lane and accelerating and braking as required.
The biggest benefit of the adaptive dampers is the improvement in ride quality over the standard set-up: most of the time, the VW soaks up bumps with a soft-edged plushness.
The Skoda Kodiaq has a similar chassis, although its extra body mass and wheelbase length mean more acute impacts aren’t quite as noticeable as they are in the Tiguan, while the damping in a Mazda CX-5 is plusher and better controlled at higher speeds over rough roads.
Car group tests
- New Volkswagen Tiguan R 2021 review
- New Volkswagen Tiguan Life 2020 review
- New Volkswagen Tiguan 2020 review
- New Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid 2020 review
Used car tests
VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system features an Off-Road setting that tunes the traction control for maximum grip, but the lack of ground clearance and the use of summer tyres mean you won’t want to venture too far off the beaten track. The VW also leads when it comes to refinement, with good suppression of both wind and engine noise.
As you would expect, the sporty Tiguan R ups the ante on the handling front, offering plenty of high speed grip with little body roll. However, driving enthusiasts may be disappointed by the lack of engagement from a relatively numb chassis, while the ride quality is compromised too by the big wheels and sports suspension, in spite of the adaptive dampers.
The Tiguan eHybrid feels much like the rest of the family on the road, except during cornering when the extra weight of the battery and motor makes itself felt.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Here, the diesels make the most sense; they're refined and offer the best mix of economy and performance. The 148bhp TDI version is able to reach 0-62mph in a solid 9.4 seconds, with a top speed of 124mph. Moving up to the top-spec 197bhp TDI variant means an improved sprint time of 7.5 seconds, and a 134mph maximum.
The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol TSI Tiguan manages the same dash in a more sedate 10.9 seconds, while the more powerful 148bhp car improves on this with a 9.2 second time.
The plug-in hybrid can post a figure of around 7.5 seconds, while the Tiguan R knocks off the benchmark sprint in just 4.9 seconds. The two newcomers have maximum speeds of 127mph and 155mph respectively.
In this review
- 1Volkswagen Tiguan reviewPerfectly honed for family life, the Volkswagen Tiguan is well-built and practical but lacks any real sparkle
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe Tiguan is a capable cruiser, while new R and eHybrid models add extra strings to its bow
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsAll Tiguans are cost-effective to run, but the eHybrid will save company drivers a packet
- 4Interior, design and technologySolid design is functional rather than stylish, although the Tiguan now features a smart new look and the latest on-board tech.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBuyers will appreciate the Tiguan's larger boot and increased passenger space compared to rivals
- 6Reliability and SafetySafety is good, but VW will be hoping the Tiguan reliability reputation improves