First introduced in 2007 to compete in the compact crossover SUV segment then emerging in popularity, the Volkswagen Tiguan was aimed at more established players in this class, like the Honda CR-V, and in size slotted in between the Nissan X-Trail and Nissan Qashqai. Based on the same platform underpinning Volkswagen's ever popular Golf, the Tiguan underwent a mid-life facelift in 2011, which has introduced Volkswagen's new corporate grille. With the new face, the Tiguan now perfectly bridges the gap between the Volkswagen Golf hatchback and the mid-size Touareg SUV.
Short, wide and tall, the Volkswagen Tiguan brings a European-style look to the compact crossover segment with proportions very much like those of an enlarged family hatchback rather than a scaled down SUV or high riding estate car as most of its Japanese competitors. Discrete, elegant and with an air of solidity about its design language, the Tiguan is little altered after its mid-life facelift, with its most prominent change being to the front fascia. A simplified bumper, grille and light design more strictly brings the Tiguan into line with newer versions of other VW models including the Golf, Scirocco, Jetta, Passat and Touareg.
With the lights and grille now combined on a horizontal axis with a smooth gentle arc separating from the bumper, the Tiguan now looks wider than before the revision, where a vertical theme with the grille dipping down to the bumper made it look nose-heavy and narrow. The new grill design extends right up to the new headlights, which feature a sharp inside angle and feature more modern LED lighting elements. In turn, the bumper looks more refined and less busy, while according to Volkswagen's specifications listing, ride height also seems to be lower. The rear lights also receive a smoother and more homogenous treatment.
Versatile and classy
Like its classy and understated exterior, the Tiguan's interior is too a conservative and logically laid out place to be, with buttons and functions positioned in a simple yet intuitive manner. Virtually unchanged since its makeover, the Tiguan's interior features a straight lines, curves and round dials, vents and instruments designed in a symmetric and unfussed manner, while finishing consists of softer better textured material and -- leatherette wrapped steering wheel -- where one is more likely to come into contact, while lower grade hard plastics are consigned to lower and less obvious parts of the cabin, console and dashboard.
With the ambiance of a more spacious and higher riding Golf, the Tiguan offers a more commanding road view, while a huge sunroof brings in a lot of sunlight to give its dark and conservative cabin an airy feel about it. Access and front space are accommodating for larger drivers, as is seat and steering adjustability, while rear passengers benefit from a sliding and reclining rear bench, for added comfort and to either increase leg or luggage room. Rear headspace almost equal to the front is a plus point for the Tiguan, while a decent 470-litre luggage capacity can be extended to 1510-litre when the rear seats are folded down.
Offered with a choice of several turbocharged petrol and diesel engines for various markets and trim levels, the range topping engine choice tested here is the 2.0 TSI mated with VW's 4Motion Haldex four-wheel-drive system. A turbocharged and intercooled cast-iron block four-cylinder engine with a 16-valve DOHC aluminium head and variable timing on intake valves, the Tiguan's 2.0 TSI motor develops 200BHP at 5,100rpm and 207lb/ft torque throughout 1,700-500rpm. The same engine as that of the Golf GTI, the Tiguan's turbocharged four-cylinder provides the heavier 1629kg Tiguan good pace, with the 0-100km/h dash completed in 8.5-seconds and a 207km/h top speed.
Spinning up quickly on boost, the Tiguan 2.0 TSI suffers only little turbo lag, and by as early as 1,700rpm has available its full complement of torque to muscularly under-write a build up to maximum power, which occurs just 100rpm after the peak torque band. Versatile and responsive in its broad mid-range, the Tiguan is a comfortable and confident driving car, and carries its self well on inclines and when overtaking. To make smooth and swift progress on winding roads, one is better off setting the smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic gearbox to its more sensitive sport setting or manually shift gear to keep revs up in the sweet spot.
Driving much more like a car than SUV, the Tiguan is smooth, comfortable and with good stability on the highway, while in town is compact and manoeuvrable. With a somewhat short wheel base and higher ride height, strong crosswinds at high speed can be slightly felt, while through corners the Tiguan's body is composed but leans more than its lower riding VW car siblings. High riding, the Tiguan can also handle provincial roads' many cracks and bumps with ease, but on highly choppy roads one will get jostled up and down slightly. A pleasant drive all things considered, the Tiguan also benefits from a quick ratio and light steering, which while precise could do with more road texture feedback.
Driving like a smaller car through corners, the Tiguan feels agile and willing through tight corners. With its front-biased weighing the Tiguan does under-steer if pushed a bit hard, to which its four-wheel-drive system sends more power rearwards while the stability controls then cut power. Through a tight corner taken slightly briskly, or on gravelly tracks -- as demonstrated during the initial 2008 launch event when it was driven on a grueling Jordan Rally stage -- this change between slight under-steer to a slight rear flick out can be fun to utilise to get around tight corners briskly.
Engine: 2-litre, transverse mounted, cast iron / aluminium turbocharged 4-cylinders
Bore x stroke: 82.5 x 92.8mm
Valve-train: 16-Valve, DOHC, variable intake timing
Gearbox: 6-speed auto, four-wheel-drive
Gear ratios: 1st 3.95:; 2nd 2.3:1; 3rd 1.55:1; 4th 1.16:1; 5th 0.86:1; 6th 0.69:1
Reverse / final drive ratios: 3.42:1 / 3.45:1
Power, BHP (kW): 200 (147) @ 5100rpm
Specific power: 100.8BHP/litre
Torque lb/ft (Nm): 207 (280) @ 1700-5000rpm
Specific torque: 141.1Nm/litre
0-100 km/h: 8.5 seconds
Maximum speed: 207 km/h
Fuel consumption, combined: 9.9 litres / 100 km
Fuel capacity: 63.5-litres
Track, F/R: 1569 / 1571mm
Minimum ground clearance: 175mm
Kerb weight: 1629kg
Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.37
Headroom, F/R: 992 / 991mm
Shoulder room, F/R: 1428 / 1397mm
Legroom, F/R: 1018 / 910mm
Luggage capacity, min / max: 470 / 1510-litres
Steering: Electric assistance, rack & pinion
Turning circle: 12-meters
Suspension, F: MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Suspension, R: Multi-link, coil springs, dampers, anti-roll bar
Brakes, F/R: 312 x 25mm ventilated discs / 282 x 12.7mm discs
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