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.
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