Drive – Volkswagen Tiguan Diesel Review

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Volkswagen Tiguan Diesel Review

Joshua Dowling

Make Volkswagen Family Tiguan Series 5N Year 2008 Badge Description 103TDI 4-Motion Doors 5 Seats 5 Transmission Manual Engine Configuration Description In-line Gear Num 6 Cylinders 4 Build Country Origin Description GERMANY ANCAPRating 5 Overall Green Star Rating 3.5 Fuel Type Description Diesel Drive Description Four Wheel Drive Warranty KM 100000

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Who’d have thought a soft-roader would attract this much attention, let alone distract someone enough to almost crash? Yet that was the case not long after I picked up the Volkswagen Tiguan, the German maker’s first foray into Forester territory.

A Subaru driver travelling the other way was so keen to get a good look at VW’s new baby he nearly went over the roundabout instead of around it.

Then, at the shops, I returned to find people peering into the car – and had to field questions about a vehicle I knew not much about, as I hadn’t yet devoured the brochure. They then told me all about it.

So why is there seemingly an iPhone-like fuss over a car? There are a few reasons. Volkswagen is the first European maker to sell a compact soft-roader wagon here.

Until now the market has been dominated by Japanese and Koreans models.

This is the first time there has been something a little bit different in a sector of the car market Australians are especially passionate about. In case you hadn’t noticed them in the traffic, one in five new cars sold today is a recreational vehicle.

Australians now buy more soft-roaders than they do Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons.

The other reason for all the fuss, to be blunt, is brand snobbery. Some people can’t bring themselves to buy a Japanese car, no matter how good the class leaders are. To keep up appearances in a compact soft-roader, your options until now were limited to the Subaru Forester or Honda CR-V but the former is viewed by some as too conservative and the latter as a mummy’s car.

So the VW Tiguan’s timing is perfect. It arrives as many owners of mainstream soft-roaders may be looking to update and it is also likely to attract buyers who have never before considered a soft-roader.

VW was so keen to get the car into Australian showrooms as quickly as possible it grabbed the first vehicles it could get its hand on from the Wolfsburg factory (the Tiguan is one of the few VWs actually made in Germany). There is only a diesel version for now but petrol-powered models are due in late September.

The diesel is likely to account for most Tiguan sales, as the petrol models require the most expensive premium unleaded (98 octane) and don’t have as much driving range.

The diesel is $35,990 with manual transmission and $38,290 with auto. When the petrol models arrive, the basic version will cost $33,990 and the flagship $42,990. Other soft-roaders in this class start at about $30,500, so VW is charging a premium for a smaller vehicle.

And it wouldn’t be a European car unless it had a lengthy options list. For example, metallic paint adds $790, whereas most of the Asian makers charge less than half that – or don’t charge extra at all. Some equipment is bundled whether you need both or not.

If you want a rear-view camera, for instance, it’s only available with the navigation system, which costs between $2990 and $4780 depending on the model. Can you tell I’ve read the brochure now?

Leather seats with electric adjustment for the driver: $3990. Ouch! What are they feeding the cows in the VW paddock, caviar?

Front- and rear-parking sensors are $1390 but at least they come with a party trick. With this option the Tiguan can parallel park itself. Well, not quite. You’ve got to be in it, press a button to activate the system, and hit the brakes when the car is in position.

The catch: as with the $200,000 Lexus limousine, it takes longer to park by radar than it does to park the car yourself.

That’s just one of many details owners might corner unsuspecting friends and family with. There are others, such as the clever chrome-covered hooks in the cargo bay that can be used to secure cargo and also be used as shopping bag hooks if you poke them out.

Obsessed owners will display the car to friends at night, to show off the cabin illumination. Soft-glow lighting allows you to see which cubby your phone, house keys etc are in and there are backlit controls on the steering wheel and window switches. Other cars have similar features but the VW is the classiest.

The dashboard materials are soft to the touch and most controls are high, in the driver’s peripheral vision. The power window switches are also well placed, high on the door panel. All four windows have auto up and can be closed by pressing the key fob after the car has been switched off.

There are massive pockets for all four doors as well as a sizeable glovebox and centre console.

Forward visibility is good, thanks to the tall driving position, and the over-shoulder views are excellent thanks to the convex mirrors.

But visibility when reversing is restricted by the smallish back window and judging the gap when parking is a hassle without rear sensors. They are a dealer-fit option ($612 plus labour).

The seats are comfortable and the back seat is roomy. However, compared with other vehicles in this class, the Tiguan’s cargo space is small and shallow. Cleverly, the back seat can be moved 18cm forward to create more cargo room but in that case the back seat is almost unusable.

Perhaps Volkswagen doesn’t want parents to be able to fit a decent-sized pram and their child.

It’s puzzling why VW didn’t make the Tiguan a little bigger. Bumper to bumper the Tiguan is 13cm shorter than the Forester, the smallest of the Japanese soft-roader wagons.

Another annoyance is the spacesaver spare tyre. Fourteen of the 16 cars in this class have full-sized spares. Most European makers give little consideration to Australia’s vastness and remoteness.

Most tyre outlets in metropolitan Sydney struggle to have the right replacement tyre size and type in stock. What chance does a regional repairer have? It’s a shame because the Tiguan is a good thing to drive on the open road.

In diesel guise it prefers highway driving than around-town commuting.

First gear in the manual is a little too short, so you’re only in it for a moment, and starting in second isn’t ideal. Thankfully the shift action is precise and smooth. The auto has its ups and downs.

The diesel’s initial delay in acceleration takes a bit to get used to and in stop-start traffic the auto tends to hold onto gears longer than is required.

The Tiguan always feels sure-footed in corners thanks to permanent all-wheel-drive. The tyres are quiet and the suspension deals with bumps easily. Some colleagues say the Tiguan can get steering kickback in tight, bumpy corners but we didn’t encounter this.

The Tiguan isn’t perfect but it is a refreshing change. Owners of Japanese and Korean soft-roaders will likely scoff at the premium price for what is a smaller vehicle with spacesaver spare tyre, while Europhiles will warm to it like moths to flame. In their eyes, at least, it has some polish that’s been missing from this category for a long time.

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