2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline road test – 1 – – Autos – MSN CA

30 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline road test – 1 – – Autos – MSN CA

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline road test

Is the Tiguan an over-priced mass-market SUV or an affordable premium one?

When you consider how European drivers tend to prefer all things small, it’s surprising how long it took Europe’s largest automaker to build a small crossover utility Vehicle. The Volkswagen Tiguan first put rubber to the road in 2008, more than a decade after the Toyota RAV4 first defined the modern cute ute species.

Given its relative youth, it’s not surprising, however, that the Tiguan’s 2012 do-over is more of a mid-cycle freshening than a start-again-from-scratch remake. The revisions are mostly superficial — a re-drawn face and fanny that incorporate VW’s new corporate grille and reinforce the Tigger’s family relationship to the larger Touareg. Minor tweaks to the carryover 2.0T engine and (optional) six-speed automatic transmission also improve fuel economy.

While Volkswagen has re-priced and repositioned the latest Jetta and Passat sedans as mainstream players in their respective segments, the Tiguan retains its poor man’s premium positioning. Prices start at $27,875 for the base Trendline trim with front-wheel drive and six-speed manual transmission. For that kind of money, many rival cute-utes would include all-wheel drive and automatic transmission as standard.

To get those same features in a Tiguan, the dickering starts at $31,275.

Then again, if you want a manual transmission the Tiguan is one of the few compact CUVs to even offer it. And you’d have to pay $30K plus for an alternative that can match or beat the 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque provided by the splendid 2.0-litre turbo four that is standard on all Tiguans (and shared with the Golf GTI).

The realistic price range is $30K – $35K

Photo: Jeremy Sinek

Between the base price and about $35K you can mix and match various combos of Trendline or Comfortline trim, FWD or AWD, and manual or automatic transmission. Or you can blow your wad on a Tiguan like our test unit, which bottom-lined at over $43,000 — $38,875 for the Highline trim (which includes automatic and all-wheel drive), plus $2,300 for the Technology Package (premium audio, park distance control, navigation with 30-gig hard drive) and $1,900 for the Sport Package (19-inch wheels, flared fenders, sport-tuned suspension, and bi-xenon swivelling headlamps with LED accents). And that still doesn’t include freight, PDI and taxes.

Whoah! That kinda money would buy you a base BMW X3, or a well-optioned 240-horsepower X1, which makes a small $43K Volkswagen look somewhat of a stretch — even a VW that includes such amenities as a 12-way power driver’s seat and a giant glass sunroof (said sunroof, incidentally, is standard even on the mid-level Comfortline trim, but Bluetooth is standard only on the Highline — an odd sense of priorities, don’t you think?)

The Tiguan is small, even compared with other, lower-priced cute-utes. At just over 443 cm in length it’s about 10 cm shorter than a Honda CR-V, for example. And that translates directly into a correspondingly cosy interior: whichever measures you look at — passenger volume, cargo room seats-up or seats-down — the Tiguan’s cubic-footage numbers are below average in its peer group.

Not to mention that some rivals are available with third-row seats.

Small it may be, but also versatile

Photo: Jeremy Sinek

Still the Tigger makes efficient use of what space it has. The back seat is adjustable for recline and fore-aft. The backrest is 40/20/40 split for optimum versatility, and the front passenger backrest can also be flattened.

When the rear backrests are down, they go almost fully flat; when they’re up, and the rear bench (or a portion thereof) is slid fully back, there is enough legroom for most sizes of adult.

We used the Tiguan for a trip from Toronto and Montreal during a sharp cold snap. There were no seat-comfort grumbles over six-hour drives, and the heater made like a furnace even when it was 20 below outside. On the drive towards Quebec we credited the lack of wind noise to the brisk tailwind that eased our passage through the air; coming home, though, the wind was in our face and still didn’t raise much of a ruckus.

Combine that with the relaxed gearing (about 2,250 rpm at 120 km/h) and this city-sized CUV can also perform the role of inter-city express.

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