Anyone who owns a TV must be aware that there’s a new VW Tiguan on sale. The film of a blinged-up R-Line turning heads outside the school gates certainly gets the message across that this is a new model here to make an impression.
And make an impression it does.
The Tiguan is the first SUV based on the VW group’s MQB platform, which already underpins the Golf, Passat and Touran. This new platform allows the car to be longer and wider and offer more interior space while lowering the roofline.
It’s certainly allowed for an improvement in looks. While the curves of the first generation were starting to look old hat, the new Tiguan is right up to date, sharing the VW family’s current sharp, square styling. While this works best in the R-line with its ludicrous 20-inch alloys, it’s a handsome vehicle in general.
Inside, passengers benefit from the new platform, with better headroom and rear legroom and more space in the boot, along with changes to the seats to improve long- distance comfort.
While some manufacturers have started to focus more on the two-wheel-drive versions of their SUVs, VW is still fully committed to the 4WD function of the Tiguan.
Around 75 per cent of last generation models were sold with the 4Motion system and this trend is expected to continue. 4Motion offers four selectable driving modes to cope with most terrain and road conditions but for those who really want to test their Tiguan there’s an “outdoor pack” that improves approach angles and offers greater under-body protection.
The Tiguan is available with seven engines – three petrols, ranging from 124bhp to 178, and four diesels in 114, 148, 187 and 237bhp outputs. Despite the recent damage to its reputation regarding diesels, VW expects the 148bhp TDI to be the best seller.
The engine has already impressed in other VW Group cars and its combination of high-50s mpg and smooth, useful power make it the obvious choice for most buyers.
We tested the 148bhp 2.0 TDI with the six-speed manual in SE Navigation trim. When equipped with 4Motion this is expected to be the best-selling Tiguan.
On the road the first and most striking thing is just how quiet the new Tiguan is. I can’t think of a mid-size SUV that can match it in terms of refinement. Engine, road and wind noise are incredibly subdued, even on the motorway.
Adding to the impression of a capable cruiser is an interior that bears the hallmarks of VW’s years of experience. Getting comfortable takes a matter of moments and the logically laid out dashboard and switchgear are simple to use. The downside is that what it offers in functionality it lacks in flair.
Off the motorway the Tiguan is controlled and fairly agile, showing just how far the latest generation of SUVs have come in comparison with their wallowing predecessors. The payoff is that the ride is just a bit too hard. On smooth Tarmac it copes well but on poor surfaces and especially at low speeds there’s a level of harshness at odds with the rest of the experience.
As well as an improved look and better space, the Tiguan is all about new and improved technology.
All models get an eight-inch touchscreen housing the usual media offerings of DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and CD player. It’s quick, responsive and the way buttons enlarge to meet your fingers makes using it on the move pleasingly easy.
Further up the range the shiny new bits of technology begin to show with the Car-Net system linking up with Android Auto, CarPlay and MirrorLink-equipped devices to mirror your phone on-screen. Car-Net also offers traffic, fuel pricing, weather and even parking updates.
The top two tiers – SEL and R-Line – also boast a 12.3-inch customisable display in place of the analogue dials. This allows the driver to select what information is displayed ahead of them alongside the rev counter and speedometer, from eco rating or fuel range to a full-colour copy of the navigation map.
The improved technology isn’t all about entertainment and convenience. The Tiguan has a array of new or improved sensors to keep occupants, pedestrians and other road users safe. Front assist, lane assist, emergency assist and driver alert all aim to keep the car and driver out of trouble and an active bonnet helps protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
It all adds up to a well-equipped, up-to-date vehicle but does come at a cost. The entry-level S 1.4 petrol is £22,510 and prices quickly rise north of £30,000, topping out at £36,375. There’s no doubt it’s a smarter and more refined offering than many rivals but it leaves it in an odd position competing with everything from Qashqais to BMW X3s.
The Tiguan represents the vanguard of VW’s renewed assault on the SUV market. Recent concepts have hinted at the shape of a new Touareg and by the end of the decade the manufacturer will have a presence in every SUV segment. Given the quality on show in the Tiguan, that should have other manufacturers worried.
The car in facts
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 148bhp, 251lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 127mph, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds
Economy: 58.9mpg combined
Emissions: 125g/km of CO2