Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Tiguan 110TDI Comfortline with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
It was a decent car and in its final years very cheap indeed, but there was a reason for that - it couldn't compete at the top level of a segment dominated by Japan and Korea. The packaging was ordinary, the styling was ho-hum and Mazda in particular grabbed the imagination of car buyers with funky looks, good driving dynamics and canny pricing.
The new Tiguan is very, very different. It now competes on space and comfort, looks like it was designed by a single team rather than five and now contains a truckload of tech under its new sheetmetal. And it drives well. It's almost like they had a really good think about it this time around.
Price and features
At first glance, the Tiguan looks like it costs more than its obvious competitors. And it does. But there are reasons for that, which will become clear.
The second generation Tiguan range starts at $28,990 for the 1.4-litre turbo front-wheel drive manual, moves through Trendline ($31,990-$34,490), on to Comfortline ($36,990-$42,990), R-Line ($44,990) and finishes at Highline ($49,990).
I'm going to take a guess and say that VW thinks Comfortline is going to be super-popular, with front and all-wheel drive (AWD) as well as two petrols and a diesel version. The diesel 4Motion is the one we had, and as the most expensive of the Comfortlines, starts at $42,990.
That kind of money gets you 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker stereo, three-zone climate control, reversing camera, cloth trim, cruise control, sat nav, power windows and mirrors, heated rear vision mirrors, space saver spare and a safety package including AEB, remote central locking, and front and rear parking sensors.
Metallic paint adds $700 (our car was the conservative-but-fetching Indium Grey).
The Driver Assistance Package adds a further $2000 to the price but must be had with the $250 Mirror Package so it's really $2250. To the car it adds reverse cross traffic alert, front and side vision cameras and therefore an around-view camera, active cruise, powered folding mirrors and a fully digital dash.
Someone has been extremely busy at VW working out what this car is actually for and has come up with some cracking ideas.
The digital dash is excellent - anyone who has seen Audi's Virtual Cockpit will recognise many of the ideas. Where it differs from the Audi is a wider range of available information in the centre of the two dials and its also linked to the entertainment system - turn that off and you lose, say, the maps from the dashboard. Tick this box if you can afford it, it's absolutely worth it for the dash and safety extras.
These options brought the total price of the car to $45,490, about $2000 cheaper than the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring diesel or about $6500 more than the CX-5 Maxx diesel. The GT bests the Comfortline on speaker count, wheel size (19s vs 17s), active LED headlights, keyless entry and start and more power and torque.
The VW has halogen headlights (more of that later), but does have a better entertainment system, an eight-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and AndroidAuto, the digital dash option, a bigger boot, more gears (seven vs six), better fuel economy and a much roomier and better finished interior (itself an achievement - the Mazda is very well-built).
Someone has been extremely busy at VW working out what this car is actually for and has come up with some cracking ideas. For a start, the amount of storage in this thing is colossal.
You've got big door pockets that will take big bottles (four of them), retractable cupholders in the front that clear out of the way if you want to use that space for something else, drop down ceiling storage for phones and/or sunglasses for both front and back, folding tray tables for rear seat passengers with attached cupholder to go with the two in the armrest (that's six for the car), a boot that can hold 520 litres (VDA) with the rear seats slid forward and 1655 with the seats down. Added to that are various little slots and bins in sensible places.
All of the door pockets and the lidded bin on the dashboard are lined so things don't make a racket sliding around inside. Not innovative, no, but nobody else is doing this in the segment.
The 60/40 split rear seats can be slid forward or aft individually to tune the boot space (520-615 litres) and the front passenger seat flops forward for extra long loads. With the rear seats pushed right back, the legroom is ample for people up to 185cm.
The sheetmetal on the new Tiguan is a much better effort than the old one. While the first generation wasn't ugly, it looked too tall, had various different design influences and if you whipped off the self-consciously large VW badges, you'd be hard-pressed to identify it.
You'll be in no doubt with the new one. The front end is a more imposing and more refined version of the first attempt but it's when you get to the rear end it all makes complex visual sense. Here there is a clear attempt to reference the Golf and it has worked a treat. In Comfortline it looks a bit underwheeled (no doubt your dealer will fix that right up for you with a few dollars' contribution) but other than that, excellently proportioned and sharply conservative. It won't stand out but it won't disappear like the old one.
No other car in this class can touch the Tiguan's interior for overall space, comfort and design.
Inside is brilliantly executed. The cloth trim looks terrific, with a two tone grey with a diamond pattern on the seats ensuring it doesn't look too dark. There are some lovely textures on the dashboard and surfaces you'll touch, and it feels almost Audi-special in some places.
You'll recognise some of the major controls like the air-con if you're already a VW owner, but there was nothing wrong with them so changing the arrangement would be pointless.
No other car in this class can touch the Tiguan's interior for overall space, comfort and design - it makes Toyota's RAV4 (third in class by sales) look decidedly dumpy and low-rent. The new CX-5 looks like it might catch up for quality, but we've yet to get in and have a play.
Engine and transmission
It's vastly better than its predecessor. It's bigger in every direction but feels like a far more nimble car.
Also on board is stop-start and energy recovery for improving fuel consumption.
(The more powerful 140kW/400Nm diesel is available in the $49,990 Highline)
VW claims a combined cycle result of 5.9L/100km. Our week with the car in our usual mix of city, suburban and highway traffic yielded an impressively close 6.9L/100km. Digging through the trip computer showed that since the car first turned a wheel, it has averaged 6.3L/100km. In the hands of journalists, mostly.
The 60 litre tank looked like easily delivering 850km between fills, even in the burbs. Not bad for a 1.7 tonne SUV.
Again, the first impression of the new Tiguan is that it's vastly better than its predecessor. It's bigger in every direction but feels like a far more nimble car. The diesel engine is a strong performer and doesn't feel as slow (relatively speaking) as the 0-100km/h time suggests. In the gears it feels muscular, the torque flow well harnessed by the quick-shifting DSG.
Colleagues tell me Sport mode in the petrol models is very good but in the diesel it doesn't seem to do much apart from make the steering too heavy. When I first took the car it was in Sport (took me a while to work out how to get it into Normal) and it felt unwieldy - well, it felt like a 1.7 tonne SUV. Switching it to Normal noticeably improved the steering weight to a more sensible level and allowed the smooth, quiet suspension to shine. It felt much better.
The AWD is a fairly straightforward kind of system but it certainly gives the Tiguan plenty of grip.
It is also very quiet in the cabin. Even under hard throttle, the diesel engine is a distant whoosh, well-hidden by the moderate tyre noise.
The AWD is a fairly straightforward kind of system but it certainly gives the Tiguan plenty of grip. While it doesn't have the fun rear bias of its Audi cousins, the Tig is a neutral handler, cornering reasonably hard until the eco tyres start protesting and slowly dissolve into understeer. Completely undramatic but very, very competent.
There are a couple of irritations in this Tiguan. The first is the halogen headlights. In such a tech-heavy car, the lack of xenons or even projector-style lights feels a bit cheap. Seeing the car on the road, they look cheap, too.
Bizarrely, you still twist the key in a barrel to start the engine. At this level, having to pluck the key out of your pocket also feels a bit stingy. This could be just me being spoilt, but it didn't feel right.
The new Tiguan scored five ANCAP stars in September 2016, the highest available, and packs seven airbags (including driver's knee), autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, two ISOFIX points in the rear.
The Tiguan is covered by Volkswagen's standard three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km and is part of the five-year capped-price servicing regime. The first five services will cost $2844 altogether, an average of just under $570 per year. That's cheaper than the 132TSI, but still not cheap. Three years roadside assist is also thrown in.