VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI review
Volkswagen's previous Tiguan was such a success that the company has placed great store on this new version. With demand for crossovers and SUVs showing no signs of abating, the Tiguan is only likely to get more important for VW, offering a Golf, but in the family crossover sector.
Review by Chris Lilly
Fitted with Volkswagen's 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine, the 150hp unit gives a good overall balance between performance and economy. The 0-62mph time comes in at 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 125mph, so performance is reasonable if not blistering. Likewise the car's economy figures are good but not outstanding, so you might call this specification a Jack of all trades but a master of none. It's a statement that's little harsh, but ultimately fair, though that's not a bad thing really for a family car. The petrol engine is faster than similarly priced diesels in the Tiguan range, and the engine doesn't have to be revved hard to get the best out of it. Power and torque is readily available low down the rev range, and with a manual gearbox as fitted, keeping in the power band is easy. The gearbox is well suited to the engine and isn't exactly encouraging to change gear quickly, but neither is it inhibiting.
Ride and handling can often be a problem with crossovers, but the Tiguan is very well set up. The suspension might be a little stiff for some, particularly if you consistently drive along rough roads, but on the whole it is far better this way than being too soft. Body roll is kept well under control and it is easy to drive the Tiguan without feeling as though you are in a full-size SUV. With 'normal' handling comes the ability to pilot the car through town and car parks easily, an essential aspect of the Tiguan's appeal as a family car. At higher speeds the car settles down pretty well, and even when you do tackle speed bumps and the like, there is plenty of compliance in the suspension to make sure passengers aren't shaken about.
The Tiguan is nice looking car, with sharp styling that makes the previous version now look a little soggy. Featuring a number of VW design cues, the Tiguan can't be mistaken for any other manufacturer's car, and the exterior dimensions help create a spacious interior. Boot space is plentiful and will easily swallow whatever kit a typical family might need to cart around. Access is good too with a relatively low lip and wide tailgate. Overall, the Tiguan stands out from the competition, but not too much and to the benefit of practicality rather than compromising it.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Potentially the most important aspect of the car, the Tiguan's cabin needs to be practical, spacious, and hard wearing. I can safely say that it ticks off the first two points, and it feels as though the final attribute is covered too. Anyone who has sat in a VW car over the past few years will feel instantly familiar with the controls, and that's no bad thing. The interior is one of the best on the market, and the equipment and controls are intuitive to use. It's stylish and ergonomic, and the SE Nav model tested comes with the 12.3-inch TFT instrument display - Audi's Virtual Cockpit by another name - which allows drivers to customise the screen to make dials larger or smaller, prioritise a sat-nav map, and a myriad other set-ups. The seats are comfortable and supportive up front, while those in the rear will have plenty of space to move about in. The Tiguan came with fold-out rear tables and a sliding bench, creating a flexible space for rear occupants, who will have no complaints over head and leg room.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The 1.4 TSI engine tested will achieve 49 MPG and emit 132 g/km CO2 according to VW. In real world tests, I managed to achieve more than 40 MPG without much effort, especially on longer runs at sensible motorway speeds. Over the course of 700 miles driving, the average ended up at 38.6 MPG with a variety of driving styles and routes undertaken. With a tax band of E, it will cost £130 a year to tax under the current system, with the diesel engines available able to offer greater MPG and lower CO2 emissions. However, the petrol is cleaner overall in urban areas, and suits the stop-start nature of traffic more.
With the TSI engines, VW has downsized the units by using turbocharging technology to make sure the power is still there. One excellent bit of kit used is the company's Active Cylinder Technology, which shuts down the second and third cylinders when not under load to, in effect, create a 0.7 litre two cylinder engine. This obviously uses less fuel than firing all four cylinders, and is completely seamless. It's technology that is normally found (if at all) on larger engines, but the VW Group has implemented on this unit. Standard BlueMotion technology is also fitted, such as engine Stop/Start, and battery regeneration systems that reduces the load put on the engine when working hard. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 45.
Standard equipment on the Tiguan range includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-inch touchscreen media system with DAB and Bluetooth, lane assist, emergency brake assist, air conditioning, and electric door mirrors. The SE Nav tested adds features such as cruise control, climate control, 18-inch alloys, Car-Net App-Connect for smartphone connectivity, folding tables for the rear seats, chrome trim outside, and parking sensors front and rear. Options include items such as the previously mentioned digital drivers instrumentation display, 20-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive chassis control.
For anyone looking for a family-sized SUV, the Tiguan is a definite contender. The 1.4 TSI petrol engine is a useful unit and will tempt some away from the almost default diesel option. Those who do will have a good car that is suitable for both around town and on the motorway, dealing well with open roads too. It's not perfect, but the Tiguan is an excellent all-rounder with few weaknesses.
Model tested: VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI 150PS SE Nav ACT 2WD
Body-style: Five-door family SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol / 132 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, SE Nav, SEL, R-Line
On-road price: From £23,140. Price as tested £25,890
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars