Volkswagen Tiguan: Road Test

3 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Volkswagen Tiguan: Road Test

Volkswagen Tiguan

: Road Test

Sipper or Sportster, Tiguan has both bases covered

Volkswagen Tiguan 155 TSI and 103TDI

Road Test

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $39,190 (103TDI DSG), $42,990 (155TSI DSG)

Options fitted (not included in above price): Metallic paint, RNS510 satellite navigation, Adaptive Chassis Control, fog lights (diesel), Bi-xenon headlights (petrol), Comfort Package (diesel) and Leather upholstery (petrol)

Crash rating: Five-star (Euro NCAP)

Fuel: Diesel (103TDI), 95 RON PULP (155TSI)

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 6.2 (103TDI), 8.8 (155TSI)

CO2 emissions (g/km): 164 (103TDI), 205 (155TSI)

Has the gloss faded from Volkswagen’s Tiguan since the local release of its cousin the Skoda Yeti?

Perhaps. At least until the prospective buyer realises that the Tiguan powered by a 103kW diesel is not much more expensive than the Yeti with the same engine. Order both with DSG transmission and the VW will set you back just $500 more, but with an extra ratio in the box.

So there’s no sign the Tiguan will yield ground in the local market to the Yeti, no matter how close the relationship between the two companies. A recent facelift of the Volkswagen has freshened the looks and the flagship petrol model has gained a slight performance upgrade — 155kW instead of the 147kW version offered previously.

Here at we recently tested two representative models of Tiguan over the course of a fortnight. First came the diesel-engined Tiguan 103TDI, which, with the optional DSG transmission fitted is about $3000 less than the feisty petrol-engined Tiguan 155TSI that followed a week later. The DSG transmission in the petrol Tiguan is standard rather than an option.

While the Tiguan has always come recommended (if you can forgive the stingy boot space), and manages very well to straddle the line between softroader and bush-basher, there’s always been a disparity between the diesel on the one hand and the sprightly petrol models on the other. Put quite simply, that hasn’t changed with the facelift. Powered by diesel, the Tiguan can be a slogger for rough going offroad without paying a penalty at the pumps.

And if you tow or cover vast distances on the open road, the diesel Tiguan 103TDI is the obvious choice. It even makes more sense around town, if running costs are a consideration.

That would leave the Tiguan 155TSI (with a direct-injected and turbocharged petrol four-cylinder) seemingly pointless — except for those who enjoy driving and have to make concessions living in suburbia with a family. The Tiguan 155TSI is sheer bliss to punt around, whether on the black-top or on dirt.

But it’s not all peaches and cream. While the top-spec Tiguan is a lively car to drive — in contrast with other compact SUVs — the dual-clutch transmission can be slow to unleash the available torque from launch. In the Tiguan tested the transmission was smoother and faster than some DSG boxes in earlier Volkswagens, but there was that slight delay in the Tiguan making a break for it at the traffic lights.

Once on the move, however, the VW is more consistent in the way it delivers its power, although the petrol engine can feel ‘sudden’ after driving the diesel model the week earlier. Even on light throttle openings the car feels like it’s on a hair trigger, which is not a bad thing for the right sort of driver.

The petrol powerplant is a charismatic engine offering plenty of performance and a fairly flat torque curve that makes the most of the close ratios in the transmission. It’s willing to rev also and kicks down promptly, with or without manual gear selection by the driver. On that point, and given the petrol Tiguan’s sporty character — where are the shift paddles?

As with the petrol Tiguan, the diesel variant can be caught out at traffic lights, due to a modicum of turbo lag and the auto-stop system. Getting the jump on other cars requires some careful timing by the driver. The auto-stop system can be disabled manually, of course, and if the driver keeps just barely enough pedal pressure on the brakes to hold the car at standstill the engine will keep idling.

While the engine can be slow off the mark, once the turbo has finished spooling up it delivers plenty of performance, almost too much at times. Turning from a side road into a busy arterial can leave the Tiguan’s traction control befuddled — even in the dry. The diesel feels a little less lively in a straight line than the 132kW petrol model we also had an opportunity to drive briefly, but it remains nippy enough around town.

Like the petrol Tiguan’s, the diesel’s DSG transmission operated smoothly and was quite prompt to change once the car was on the move, although it also held higher gears at lower revs when cruising or coasting — to conserve fuel. It was pleasing to note that even down to about 1200rpm the engine barely laboured and there was practically none of the typical diesel vibration often encountered in other vehicles at around 1500rpm.

Fuel consumption for the petrol Tiguan varied over the course of the week, with the trip computer showing numbers below 9.0L/100km in urban driving. That was basically during holidays, with light traffic encountered on arterial roads. Other occasions the trip computer showed fuel use ranging between 10 and 12.0L/100km, with constant running at freeway speeds resulting in figures at or below 10.0L/100km.

Those numbers were frequently achieved with two adults and two children on board, plus luggage for a couple of days away and air conditioning cranked up high for Melbourne’s summer heatwave over the New Year period.

Limited to just 40-minute commutes through Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, the trip computer for the diesel Tiguan typically displayed average fuel consumption figures ranging from below 8.0L/100km up to around 10.0L/100km by the end of the trip — depending on the traffic density.

NVH levels experienced in the cabin remained low at cruising speeds in both vehicles. In fact, neither engine could be heard on the open road, where road noise is slightly louder than the prevailing wind noise.

Dual-zone climate control in the Tiguan 155TSI provided a welcome relief during days of temperatures up to 40 degrees. Interior comfort met with the approval of those who rode in the car. The leather-trimmed front seats were ultimately better than the majority of offerings we’ve sampled in the compact SUV segment.

In combination with the car’s adjustable dampers set to ‘Comfort’ the seats provided proper support and insulation from the bump and grind of country roads, but when the dampers were reset to ‘Sport’ and the car driven accordingly, the seats would also hold the occupant in place like a limpet. While the Tiguan 155TSI provided all sorts of feedback through the seat while driven harder, none of that feedback was about the seat itself. It was all about the car’s handling, steering and grip.

On the subject of dynamics, the Tiguan 155TSI is more fun than most informed people would believe possible of any compact SUV. Turning into a bend the Tiguan doesn’t unsettle the driver. There’s some initial push that is readily offset by oversteer tendencies if the driver leaves the braking late or lifts off the throttle mid-corner.

Yet the Tiguan never feels like a handful. If anything it encourages the driver to explore its limits — again, in a manner very unlike that of most SUVs. The steering is communicative and properly weighted, and this is where the Tiguan’s mix of Golf platform traits and mini-X5 design aspirations shine through. There’s little of the body roll or ploughing one might anticipate in any sort of high-riding offroader.

Tiguan might be more at home on rally roads than true bush tracks, but it provides an incomparably sporty drive on bitumen.

Both Tiguan variants are ahead of the pack for passive dynamics, but the comfort and sport suspension settings available through the (optional) Adaptive Chassis Control fitted to both vehicles provided a further, subtle advantage in varying driving environments. Improved ride quality when set to Comfort doesn’t throw out all the handling and roadholding with the bathwater.

Nor will either car’s suspension rupture internal organs over typical Aussie country roads when the button in the lower centre fascia is toggled to ‘S’.

Here’s a few observations that aren’t particular to any variant of Tiguan, but rather the design as a whole. The facelift is, we believe, an improvement on the looks of the previous model. Some may argue that it’s less quirky, more corporate than before, but for some owners that will be a point in the new car’s favour.

Although the interior is kitted out with the standard mix of Volkswagen displays and switchgear, Tiguan also features a nice combination of soft fabrics, quality padding and decorative trim to distract the user from the homogeneity of the design. It’s also comfortable and roomy inside, with plenty of headroom in the rear for adults, and legroom to match. Seating is comfortable and supportive, with the driver’s position readily adjusted to suit a wide range of physiques.

Access is a real pleasure, thanks to the appropriate H-point for all sizes. Kids won’t have to struggle climbing in and nor will adults need to lever themselves out.

One of the bugbears of the Tiguan has been the lack of luggage capacity. That’s not improved to any degree with the introduction of the facelifted model, but lowering the 60 per cent section of the split-folding rear seat allowed us to throw in a child’s 16-inch bike from Santa, without disassembling it — and still leave room for three occupants.

On another occasion the Tiguan was called upon to shift two trestle tables with both sections of the rear seat folded flat — and managed that without difficulty. A quick tug on the chord to tip each side forward and you have an enlarged loading space that’s almost flat and practical to use. In other words, most people will find the Tiguan’s boot space adequate for day-to-day needs.

The split-folding seat could be improved with remote switches in the luggage compartment, as some Japanese and Korean cars now offer.

Finally, the (optional bi-xenon) headlights of the 155 TSI provided a diffuse spread of light and a powerful beam at night on country roads. As part of the optional feature, the petrol Tiguan’s dynamic cornering headlights were worthwhile, as were the static cornering lights for suburban street corners. Just for dispelling what the airline industry calls ‘lack of situational awareness’, the Tiguan is to be highly praised.

Out of the two cars tested, the eco-sensitive mind — the one also pandering to a spouse wanting a car that’s really easy to drive — sides with the diesel model. But if purchasing budget, the environment and whatever passes for peer-group pressure in your neck of the woods count for nothing, get the 155 TSI. It’s the red sportscar for those who don’t wish it to be known among even their closest family members that they’re having a mid-life crisis.

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Published. Tuesday, 21 February 2012

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