The revamped VW Tiguan is veering towards the world’s roads with a vengeance. Alvin Thomas reports.
There’s a saying that goes: “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” In short, it means that a successor to something (or someone) is likely to maintain a strong resemblance to its predecessor. This idiom lies true with automobiles too, as manufacturers warp similar engineering and technology into cars to create a common “brand identity” for their companies.
The technical boffins at Volkswagen, however, don’t seem to share that ideology; each and every Volkswagen vehicle is unique (at least from my experience driving Volkwagens).
And thankfully, this also seems to be the case with the all-new Tiguan.
The Tiguan is actually one of Volkswagen’s best-selling SUVs – with more than 2.8 million cars being sold worldwide since its launch in 2007. So, it would only be reasonable if VW retained the original design and elements when they re-engineered this SUV for 2017.
But, that’s not what they did. So, after nine whole years, they have come up with a Tiguan that is all-new – from the ground up. And boy, have they got this one right!
For 2017, the VW Tiguan shares the “MQB” architecture that underpins everything from the latest Golf and Audi TT, which helps the SUV score some early brownie points in my book.
It looks more grown-up than its predecessor too: the styling is sharp, with a lot of clean yet distinct lines running from the doors all the way to the rear tail lamps. The lights are sharp and chiselled, giving it the aura of a premium mid-size SUV. Apart from that, this Tiguan is wider, longer and beefier than the model it replaces. The interior, however, is typical “VW”. There’s plenty of soft-touch padding on the doors, as well as on the dashboard. There’s a 20cm touch-screen infotainment screen that controls everything from the vehicle dynamic settings, entertainment, and even the interior ambience up front, and the SUV also features – for the first time – a completely digital instrument cluster (measuring 31cm).
Because the Tiguan has grown in size, there’s significantly more space inside – even rear passengers can reap the benefits of generous leg and head room. Interestingly, there’s even a food tray attached the rear seats, just in case you’re planning on snacking on your journey.
My range-topping Tiguan came with very comfortable leather seats. They don’t offer much side bolstering but that’s typical with SUVs. There are memory functions on the seats, with which you can assign specific settings for different drivers. On the tech front, you also get an around-view 360-degree camera and parking sensors, a gorgeous-looking navigation system and even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Powering the Tiguan is VW’s newly tuned 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four cylinder engine. This is the same unit that powers the company’s glorious Golf GTi and even the “new” Beetle. The output is an impressive 180hp (although a 210 version is coming soon) and 280Nm of torque, and the power is put down to the front wheels via a slick seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, although there’s an electronic differential that will send power to the rear wheels in extreme situations.
The acceleration from the engine isn’t what I would call savage but power delivery is fairly linear, and the Tiguan does hit the 100kph mark in a mere 8.2 seconds, giving it an edge over its Asian rivals. Of course, to achieve that, I had to mimic “launch control” by switching off the traction control – and forcing the clutch to dump – by keeping the revs within the torque band and then launching the car forward.
The initial acceleration – when you do that – is definitely hit-you-in-the-head fast, and you will have to be in control of the vehicle at all times. But, as with most turbocharged cars, you will need to keep the gearbox in “Sport” mode or take control of the gearbox manually to make the most of the power. Still, the “DSG” gearbox is smooth, and gear changes are unnoticeable. This has to be the best gearbox I’ve ever come across in an SUV.
The Tiguan also corners extremely well. As a matter of fact, it handles better than most sedans of today, thanks to its on-board electronic “nannies”. I could even take sharp bends at nearly unbelievable speeds while still remaining in one piece. Most SUVs would simply roll over at such speeds.
I can attribute that to the stiff and well-tuned chassis, which gave me a lot of confidence to play around with. The steering is also extremely well-tuned, remaining light at low speeds and gaining weight as you pick up speed. Similarly, the brakes have a very progressive feel to them although they can be a bit unpredictable at low speeds.
Despite all this, the ride in the Tiguan is very compliant (even in “Sport” mode) and road harshness is soaked up effortlessly. At high speeds, however, wind noise does penetrate the cabin albeit not by much.
The new Tiguan is, by every means, a very well-sorted premium SUV. While its predecessor competed with SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, this new Tiguan may very well be playing alongside its big cousins from Germany. VW has struck all the right notes here.