SUVs are not the most economical of cars. That’s an awful lot of petrol and diesel fuel and emissions being spent on what, for most buyers, is more about lifestyle than necessity.
Ah, emissions. That scandal of false engine readings revealed last September has cost VW billions in lost sales (11 million units) and rectifications and fines, and is still flooding the company with grief. Last week the smaller shareholders were joining in condemnation of the company’s governance.
In Britain, the VW Group has only just started making inroads into fixing the 1.2 million diesel vehicles in the UK, mostly Volkswagen cars and vans, plus Audi, Skoda and Seat models. The job will take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on the model.
First, the system has had to be extensively tested in Germany to ensure there was no deterioration in performance, economy or emissions.
But nothing daunted, VW are sending more SUVs this way to feed the largest sales sector in Europe. The mid-sized Tiguan has been VW’s best-seller in the UK behind Golf and Polo – both top ten sellers. The outgoing model, launched in 2008, sold 2.8 million worldwide and last year was its best so far in Britain, with 22,000 sales. We tried the new one on a Press event based at Rudding Park, Harrogate.
The standard car is front-wheel drive but seven in ten British buyers choose the 4Motion all-wheel drive. It can adapt to snow, loose surfaces, bumpy ground or plain highway. The latest Tiguan has the option of an automated trailer reversing system, which may take the “oh heck” out of backing up. I know one seasoned caravan user who dreads reversing.
Wilderness types can order an outdoor pack, which gives a sharper approach angle to avoid ripping into ruts, and added under-body protection. Other new features include an all-round-view camera, lane-keeping assistance and automatic braking to stop nose to tail shunts, hitting pedestrians, or unintended running on after a collision. It also has a coasting option. When you take your foot off the accelerator the engine is disconnected from the driveline to save fuel. When the brake or accelerator pedals are moved, the drive is re-connected.
The new Tiguan is bigger in every dimension other than height, so it appears to be more purposeful. The new chiselled styling and face freshen its image and hoist it up market, copying the house style of the latest Golf and Passat and tipping its hat at Audi.
Inside the quality improves and models with the virtual instruments and mapping, carried over from Audi, set a new standard in the sector – which includes the Qashqai, Kadjar, Kuga, and the shorter Mazda CX-3 and Audi Q3. The Tiguan gives a choice of seven engines, all turbocharged, with four diesels from 115hp to 240hp and petrol from 125hp to 180hp. There are five trim levels, S, SE, SE Navigation, SEL and R-Line. Prices range from £22,510 for the front-wheel-drive 1.4 SE petrol with manual gears to £36,375 for the 2-litre diesel 240hp R-Line with DSG gears and 4Motion.
Key price points are 4Motion from £27,270 for a 2-litre diesel S. The cheapest petrol-engined 4Motion is the 2-litre SEL at £32,145. Automatic DSG gears are available from £28,760 in S trim with diesel power and 4Motion, slightly more for a front-drive petrol model in SE trim.
They say a main seller will be the 150hp diesel SE Navigation with manual gears and 4Motion drive at £29,745. I tried it with the seven-speed DSG gearbox, which kicks the price to £31,235. The test model was fitted with the Offroad stuff and metallic paint and cost £32,810.
My drive did not reveal anything alarming. The acceleration was adequate. Road noise on familiar routes was subdued. The roads were wet. I suppose if I’d been caning it, the 4Motion extra grip would have stepped in. But I wasn’t, so it didn’t, as far as I could tell. These Haldex systems engage the rear wheels gently and the Tiguan uses the latest version.
Key details for this model are 149g CO2, 49.6 mpg overall, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and a top whack of 124mph. Over a general mixed route its tripmeter suggested 40mpg.
Verdict: Tiguan owners will no doubt be happy to migrate to the latest one. Sharper styling should attract newcomers. Pricing may not.