Until recently, if you wanted a premium family SUV, you either had the choice of something very large like a Fortuner or something very expensive like the GLA, X1 or Q3. Most people actually don’t need the bulky four wheel drive system or the strong ladder frame chassis of SUVs like the Fortuner and Endeavour. They are too big for daily use, weigh a lot and consume a lot of fuel. The entry level SUVs from luxury brands aren’t that practical because they are loaded with features that are not suitable and economical for the daily use. What you need is a compact crossover that meets both luxury and practicality. The Volkswagen Tiguan enters to meet that demand.
Internationally, the Tiguan competes with the CRV and X-trail, but in India, the Volkswagen has decided to position it in a segment higher. You can get a Jeep Compass or Hyundai Tucson cheaper than this car but they don’t carry the same European flair as this one has. The styling is understated and mature like most VWs. The front end looks lower by SUV standards, but the overall design is rather proportionate. The LED headlamps and grille form a great fascia. This fascia combines with the two step bumper. These features are very pleasing to the eye. The side with its chiselled shoulder line can almost pass off as an Audi. The rear has three-dimensional LED tail lamps that extend from the shoulder line and complete a square boot lid. It is a design that is staid and will age well.
The interiors don’t quite get you at first. It is a sea of uninspiring grey plastic and everything looks a bit, too functional. But, spend some time and you appreciate how well built and practical they are. There is a weight to the controls and everything feels built to last. The large touch screen unit is intuitive and comes loaded with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. There are plenty of cubby holes and most of them are felt-lined to prevent your stuff from getting scratched. The door pockets can hold big water bottles and you get sizeable storage spaces -on top of the AC events, under the centre armrest, below the headlamp switch and under the front seats. There is a three zone climate control, one for each of the front seats and one for the rear. The front seats are nice and hold you well in corners. The front passenger seat doesn’t get electric adjustments, but can be raised for height. The rear seat gets good headroom and legroom and can be reclined for comfort. It can also be slid forward or folded down altogether to maximize boot space. There is no shortage of features and you get keyless entry and push button start, electric parking brake, auto hold, heated seats, heated mirrors, automatic boot open/close, full panoramic sunroof, cruise control, automatic headlamps and wipers, six airbags, ABS, ESC and et al.
Under the hood, the Tiguan uses the updated EA288 2.0 litre diesel engine. For the price, you only get 143bhp, instead of the 177bhp state of tune you get in other VW group offerings. Performance is adequate with 340Nm of torque building up from 1750rpm. It would take around 9.6 seconds for the car to reach the speed of 100 kmph from null. It is respectable considering fact that the car weighs 1720kg. It feels quite comfortable cruising on the highway with the engine barely ticking over at 100kmph in 7th gear. The DQ500 gearbox is a beefed up version of the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox which was released earlier. It keeps the engine in the meat of the power band, but at times, it was a bit hesitant to throttle inputs. Overall the engine and gearbox combination leaves no complaints in city driving. The Tiguan uses a Haldex all-wheel drive system that splits torque between front and rear wheels depending on road conditions. You can select from various driving modes that optimize grip, throttle responses and take care of individual wheel braking to get you out of most situations.