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The all-wheel drive only GT opens the bidding at $44,090 for the 2.5-litre all-wheel drive automatic and $47,090 for diesel.
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Malcolm Flynn is spending six months living with the mid-spec Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline, to see if it lives up to the high praise we’ve given it to date.
There’s something about significant life events that can turn your automotive ideals on their head.
Divorce seems to make anything red and fast appealing, old age can cause you to yearn for white sedans, while the impending arrival of your first born will almost certainly toggle the 'Time to Become a Serious Grown Up' switch in your brain.
Safety suddenly becomes your number one priority, shortly followed by the ease of loading a child seat and pram and the ability to fit said child seat with ISOFIX mounts. Performance and looks may not even make your shortlist.
At this point you’re also likely to realise that SUVs aren’t selling in droves solely due to the perception that they’re capable of taking a bee-line route to Cape York or traversing the roof of Parliament House.
In fact, their biggest drawcards are a commanding view of the road and traffic ahead, a boxy body that lends itself to head, foot and shoulder room, and a taller cargo area that may even fit some of your own luggage on top of said baby pram.
Which brings me to the new VW Tiguan. With the birth of my first child mere weeks away, it ticks the safety box boldly and in red ink with standard front auto emergency braking (AEB), seven airbags covering the front and rear outer occupants, multi-angle reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, multi-collision braking, fatigue detection and lane departure warning - all contributing to a very worthy maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
It also boasts 615-1655 litres VDA of cargo space in the back, and its 54mm length expansion over the previous generation is actually quite modest, given its overall 4486mm is still 119mm shy of a RAV4 and 54mm shorter than the shortish CX-5.
Nine years after the first-generation debuted and arriving full year after the new model made its first appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show, the second-gen Tiguan is easily the most anticipated new SUV of 2016. Andrew Chesterton raved about it from its Australian launch, and picked the mid-spec 132TSI Comfortline, with the bigger 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine as the sweet spot of the range.
So that’s surely the one for my new family. The upcoming 162TSI is the only variant promising more grunt for the foreseeable future, but the 132TSI’s claimed 7.7 second 0-100km/h time should be enough to match the performance criteria that, incidentally, did make my short list.
We also wanted to equip it with vomit-resistant leather trim, which necessitated the $5,000 Luxury Pack. Not cheap, and nudges the 132TSI Comfortline’s list price to $46,490, but decent value when you consider it also brings front seat heaters, a panoramic glass sunroof, electric driver’s seat with memory settings, proximity unlocking, electric tailgate and auto-folding door mirrors.
The only other addition we made was the optional tow pack ($1224.10 plus fitting), which facilitates the very impressive 2500kg braked tow rating applied to all 2.0-litre Tiguans (the 1.4s are 1800kg). A Tiguan towing up to 2.5 tonnes? Watch this space.
The 132TSI Comfortline has been thrown straight into daily duty on the 60km commute between the lower Blue Mountains and Sydney’s inner west. Essentially the length of the M4 motorway, which has been deemed Australia’s most dangerous stretch of road. Another vote in favour of the Tig’s extensive safety kit.
Our first impressions were no surprise. The Tiguan feels like a slightly taller Mk7 Golf, which is very high praise.
We love the quality of the leather wrapping the steering wheel, although we’d prefer it without the flat bottom to avoid the feeling of twirling a 50 cent piece.
All-round visibility is also very good for an SUV thanks to the combination of front quarter windows with door-mounted mirrors, flat windowline and reasonably thin C-pillars.
Surprises include the lap-timer and off road gauges in the centre display, and the fold-down trays behind the front seats.
Another welcome discovery was that the cruise control can be adjusted in single km/h increments by toggling the Set and Reset button once the cruise is active, in addition to the 10km/h increments with the + and - buttons as labeled.
When left in D, the 2.0-litre engine doesn’t feel as punchy as its numbers suggest, but like most, if not all, automatic VW products it’s simply brought to life by pulling the selecter down one more notch to S mode. It probably won’t deliver the best fuel consumption in S, but you can feel every one of the 132kW in its name.
The default setting is fine for general trundling around, and is clearly tailored for fuel efficiency, and combines with stop/start and Bluemotion energy conservation tech to deliver a 7.5L/100km combined official rating.
Starting with 837km on the odometer, fresh from the Tiguan’s Australian launch, we’ve racked up 1932.6km of traffic-heavy driving so far, and the Tiguan has returned an average of 8.8L/100km of the required Premium 95RON unleaded. This was calculated directly from the service station pump and is surprisingly close to the official claim.
Acquired: October 2016
Distance travelled this month: 1932.6km
Average fuel consumption for October/November: 8.8L/100km (measured at the pump)
Our second month with the Tiguan kicked off with a trip to the NSW south coast for a wedding. This was our first chance for a proper highway run and an opportunity to compare real-world combined figures with some open road time.
Our first fill for the month came after the circa-500km journey, and combined with another 200-odd km of urban trundling we saw the at-the-pump fuel figure drop to 8.16L/100km. Still not the 7.5 combined, but not too far off considering we weren’t trying.
Fuel consumption aside, the 132 proved to be an effortless cruiser, with the only very minor niggle being some wind noise at speed from the door mirrors. Given their clear design focus on driver visibility (forward and rearward), this is forgivable.
Back on the daily grind, one very productive shopping trip saw us need to carry the huge boxes for the baby seat and pram. The also-huge rear opening swallowed these with ease once the rear seats were folded flat with bonus points deserved for the nice spring-loaded action, enacted via a simple flick of the release tabs in the boot.
Fitment of the baby seat was made easier thanks to the back seat recline adjustment (to get the angle just right), and we had no trouble latching it to the ISOFIX mounts and requisite top-tether strap through the headrest and over the seat back.
The Tiguan’s sheer readiness for baby also made it a shoe-in for two of life’s most important journeys. Despite sharing driveway space with faster, coupe-shaped European machinery that would also make better memoirs fodder, there was no way we were making the dash to the hospital in anything other than the easy-to-board 132TSI when the baby announced its intention to be born.
Similarly for the return journey with The Most Precious Cargo you’ll ever carry, the coincidence of Japan’s most practical supercar, let’s call it Godzilla, poetically finding its way to my house at the same wasn’t enough to score it a guernsey for the trip.
A lack of ISOFIX in Australian (and NZ) models and the golf bag-focused boot’s inability to swallow our pram didn’t wash with this 'Time to Become a Serious Grown Up'-enabled new dad. At least I can say we did it in the fastest Tiguan available.
Acquired: October 2016
Distance travelled this month: 2008km
Average fuel consumption for November/December: 8.9L/100km (measured at the pump)
Most parents will tell you that once your first child arrives, EVERYTHING is suddenly about the baby. The timing of ours also meant we had to throw the madness of Christmas and New Year into the mix, but the wisdom of announcing all festivities would be held at our place meant that the Tiguan at least was focused on family duties.
With both parents on leave, this meant a whole bunch of short trips to doctor’s appointments and quick runs to the local shops. We still managed to rack up 1152km since the last update, and considering each trip was preceded by a warming up - or rather cooling up - of the aircon, you’d expect the fuel consumption to take a real bashing.
Somehow, our December/January average figure is still just 9.09L/100km, or just 0.19L shy of the previous month that included the long road trip. It’s hard not to give the Tig’s Bluemotion start/stop system and freewheeling alternator a bit of credit here.
Of course we’ve also taken every parental precaution available, including dual window socks and the Baby On Board beacon in the rear window, but a genuine godsend for cooling a hot car on a hot day is the ability to drop all windows on approach with the key fob.
This has been a VW characteristic for about a decade, and also makes for a good party trick (once the footy franks have been depleted) by simply holding down the Unlock button until the windows lower. They can also be raised by holding the Lock key.
Acquired: October 2016
Distance travelled this month: 1152km
Average fuel consumption for December/January: 9.09L/100km (measured at the pump)
Sydney's hottest summer on record unfortunately coincided with our Tiguan's otherwise excellent tri-zone climate control crying enough.
It all started with a struggle to cool the cabin on a 38 degree day, which left me pondering the Euro-designed model's ability to keep up with Australian extremes. This wouldn't be the first time a European product struggled in Australia, but after two weeks the cooling system had diminished to the point where it blew nothing but hot air. Something was definitely awry.
A visit to Volkswagen HQ saw the problem diagnosed as faulty expansion valve O-rings, which was fixed without question under warranty and returned our Tiguan to its chilled former self. An unexpected inconvenience in a car yet to travel 10,000km, but easily rectified.
This air con hiccup gave us the chance to spend a week behind the wheel of a higher-spec Tiguan 140TDI Highline diesel, coincidentally in the same Caribbean Blue of our 132TSI. Aside from looking better proportioned on its one inch larger 18-inch 'Kingston' alloys (compared with the Comfortline's 'Tulsa' design), our time in the 140TDI gave us the opportunity to ponder the diesel vs petrol debate with a reasonably scientific A-B test.
After nearly 400km of the same around town trundling that netted 9.09L/100km from the 132TSI last month, the diesel returned 7.3L/100m, or 1.79L/100km better. Hardly night and day, which reinforces our thoughts that the best argument for a diesel these days is the convenience of having to fill up less often. Based on our experience, the diesel would last an extra 162km between fills of the 60-litre tank.
One other nerd fact that our diesel experience revealed is that the Highline's swish tail-lights have reversing lights either side. This may sound obvious, but the Comfortline sticks to the annoying asymmetry of having the reverse light on one side and the foglight on the other.
Back in the petrol, we embarked on our longest trip yet with The Baby on board for a 375km round trip from the lower Blue Mountains to the NSW Central Coast, before shooting south to Campbelltown for dinner and then returning home again. Saturdays don't get much bigger.
The uncertainty of Mini-Mal's long trip resilience relegated one parent to the back seat, which both of us found pretty comfortable after making use of the slide and recline adjustment.
The standard front seatback tray tables (which come on all Tiguans aside from Trendline) are a bit too floppy to eat your dinner from, but their big benefit is as somewhere to sit a tablet or smartphone when tilted on an angle for viewing. With rubberised sections to keep your device from sliding around, these also save you from having to buy fiddly aftermarket headrest mounts.
This day's constant rain also revealed one of our favourite new car features in recent times. If you give the rear window a squirt with the window washers, the Tiguan also sprays the reversing camera lens at the same time. In wet conditions, this clears any beads of water from the lens and instantly rectifies a blurred, whiskey-glass view to one of great clarity.
In short, it helps you see where you're going when most regular reversing cameras are just useless. This has to be the next frontier for all reversing cameras.
Acquired: October 2016
Distance travelled this month: 1604km
Average fuel consumption for January/February: 9.6L/100km (measured at the pump)
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