The Volkswagen Tiguan is solid and stylish but lacks character
Volkswagen has built its brand on dependable build quality and a premium image, but is the Tiguan too lacking in character to cut it with successful rivals? Darren Cassey gets behind the wheel to find out
The new Tiguan is the beginning of Volkswagen’s SUV offensive, in which it aims to have a model in each market segment by 2020.
It’s the first time a VW SUV has sat on the company’s ‘MQB’ modular platform, which is shared across the range with the likes of the Golf and Passat. The German manufacturer says this has allowed it to offer a longer, wider design with increased cabin space.
Looks and image
Volkswagen’s ethos is to offer fuss free design with plenty of practicality, and that’s true of the Tiguan. The blocky exterior lacks the style and panache of rivals such as the Volvo XC60 and Jaguar F-Pace, but to many owners that’s what appeals.
Inside, the cloth seats aren’t the most comfortable, but they’re firm and supportive. And that sense of ruggedness is a recurring theme – the cabin design is quite uninspiring, but everything feels securely bolted together and is laid out in a purely logical way.
Space and practicality
Thanks to the aforementioned MQB platform, the Tiguan offers more space than before. VW says there’s more headroom, legroom, and luggage space – with the rear bench folded down there’s 1,650 litres in the rear, which is up there with the best in the segment.
Aside from space, the Tiguan will be appealing to families thanks to its impressive safety kit. There are various collision avoidance technologies, as well as post-collision braking and lane-keep assist. Further helping the NCAP safety rating is an active bonnet that can help reduce injuries to pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Behind the wheel
One of the most appealing aspects of the Tiguan’s driving position is that you feel like you sit slightly lower in the cabin. For many SUV drivers the high driving position is a key selling point, but the VW treads the line brilliantly between giving an excellent view of the road ahead while leaving you feeling snug and cocooned in the cabin.
Out on the open road the Tiguan feels more at home on the motorway than it does around town. It’s a brilliant cruiser – quiet and refined – but on city streets the gearbox is a bit sluggish leading to more than a few frustrating moments hesitating between gears.
Value for money
Perhaps the main disappointment with the Tiguan is that it doesn’t feel particularly premium inside. That’s a deliberate tactic, as within the Volkswagen Group, VW itself is pitched as the more sedate, practical brand. However, at this price range the likes of the Volvo XC60 feel more special inside and out.
Standard equipment includes a 12.3-inch high-definition display, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights. Additional equipment fitted to our SEL-spec car included keyless entry, head-up display and park assist.
Who would buy one?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is ideal for families looking for a solid, reliable family SUV free from too many trinkets. The excellent build quality means that it should stand up to family life brilliantly.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Volkswagen Tiguan SEL
Price as tested: £40,860
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Max speed: 142mph
0-60mph: 6.3 seconds
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