Test Drives

Volkswagen Tiguan 2016 Review: Climbing Higher


Berlin, Germany –

The VW Tiguan’s been around for awhile eh?
Yes, it launched in 2007 – that’s a lifetime-and-a-half in car years. The new, second-generation Tiguan has to slither and slash its way back into a very crowded eco-system, now that it sees competition not only from established rivals (anything from a Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai to a BMW X1) but from below it too, with smaller crossovers that (both cheaper, like the Renault Captur, or more expensive, like the Mercedes-Benz GLA) poaching the sort of city dweller. VW says the competition has tripled in the years since the car first appeared, but it’s confident – and probably has good reasons for being so. 

What’s different on the outside? 
At 1,632mm high and 1,839mm wide, the new Tiguan is 33mm lower and 30mm wider – the better to accentuate the horizontal lines – perhaps a nod to the ever-increasing demands of consumers for things that are more ‘coupe-like’. As is typical with new MQB platform cars (shared with the Golf and Passat of course) the Tiguan is much, much longer: 77mm more wheelbase and 60mm longer than before, at 2,681mm and 4,486mm respectively – it has more space between the wheels than BMW’s X1, which has 2,670mm, also running on the latest platform (BMW’s UKL). 

As for the looks, it’s a huge improvement over the bland, almost everyman design of before. The strong, clean lines deliver a very VW road presence, much closer in presentation to a Touareg now, especially with the wider air-intakes and visual aggression of an optional R-Line body style (not tested here but spied in a factory tour).

So it’s much larger but not much bigger? 
MQB svelteness means the Tiguan has lost even more weight than the Golf did (53kg versus 51kg), 12kg from the body alone, thanks largely to better construction methods, since VW doesn’t mention expensive things like aluminium construction.

As before, the upper-spec car will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, with 180bhp and 320Nm of torque – it’s fresh in our minds from pulling duty in the Passat Variant although here it’s in a lesser state of tune. Ironically the new Tiguan actually feels slower than its predecessor: That’s largely due to the increased refinement of the car. The result is that you can pull near the double-ton on the autobahn and not feel petrified, as a driver or passenger. 

How does it drive? 
It’s not a sports car so it doesn’t grip the road with tiger-like tenacity or slithery stickiness (‘Tiguan’ is a combinatio of ‘tiger’ and ‘iguana’) There are drive modes  – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual – but the difference this time is that the Tiguan packs off-road modes (see box), which are accessed via the dial near the gearshifter.

Selecting different schemes really makes the car behave differently, and no surprise, in a fully loaded car like the one we drove, you can modify the behaviour of the drivetrain, suspension, steering, headlights, AC and so on and on. 

While it’s still a tall SUV, it’ll never have occupants calling you ‘Captain’ disparagingly, nor clutching sick bags, as Tiguan is a tidy, direct handler with a much improved ride quality that’s almost entirely free of crashing its predecessor was prone to. Like the new Touran, they get quite a few ‘rights’: an AC temperature control (three-zone climate control), a USB port, and fold-out tray tables with a built-in cup-holder addition. 

But does it have something really unique or special?
In a sense yes, and no. the Tiguan can be specced to the gills with lots of impressive safety equipment – some of which should be standard, at least if we follow European spec: Seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, an active bonnet system (to cushion pedestrians), Front Assist, which is an autonomous braking system that can also detect pedestrians.

Adaptive cruise control is also available for the Tiguan and it’s quite a clever system: It drives like a smooth, professional driver and can even anticipate other cars entering your lane. Like many such systems, it also steers at speeds below 60km/h.

In fact this huge load-out of technology that really works, and doesn’t get in the driver’s way but helps him/her, reminds us of another car we recently tested – the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.  We should also point out that the Tiguan has more boot space than the Mercedes-Benz GLC too (615-litres vs 550-litres).

But it obviously won’t cost as much as a GLC – probably $60,000 less if current prices for the outgoing 2.0 are anything to go by. Of course we won’t know until it’s actually launched in Singapore. In the same way that the Volkswagen Passat has gone from sedate big sedan to a truly capable and sporty alternative to something like a 3 Series, it looks like the Tiguan has evolved from decent crossover to a potentially one of the best, most bang-for-your-buck cars in its class.

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 4MOTION

Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 4MOTION

Engine                          1,984cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged

Power                         180bhp at 3940-6000rpm

Torque                         320Nm at 1500-3940rpm

Gearbox                         7-speed dual-clutch

Top Speed                 208km/h

0-100kmh                 7.7 seconds                 

Fuel efficiency                 7.3L/100km

CO2                                 169g/km

Price                                 $TBA

Availability                         Late 2016





about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.