Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
The old Tiguan, eh? Bit boxy, bit boring, more than a bit competent. But certainly not brilliant. Sales were okay, it weathered VW's little issues in 2015 and 2016 but the time had come for the narrow, tall SUV to be shown the door. Too old, too small.
The new model has arrived in a blaze of fresh variants, with new or updated engines, stacks of new technology and lots more space. What's more, it's got a very clever new interior to look after the families that fill it.
Price and features
Much has been made of the Tiguan's pricing... er... realignment. Prices are up, stretching from $28,990 for the 1.4-litre front-wheel drive (FWD) entry level manual (hardly anybody will buy that one) up to the $49,990 Highline. The prices themselves track the competition fairly well but a closer look at the spec sheets reveals some differences. Volkswagen is betting some of these differences are things you're not going to worry about.
The Comfortline specification is a trio of models taking in a FWD petrol, an all-wheel drive (AWD) petrol and AWD diesel. The car we had was the 132TSI 4Motion, which is the middle one, coming in at $41,490 and packing the 2.0-litre turbo four rather than the 1.4-litre.
For that you will receive a Tiguan with 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker stereo, three-zone climate control, reversing camera, cloth trim, cruise control, sat nav, power windows and mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, space saver spare and a safety package including AEB, remote central locking, and front and rear parking sensors.
The Tiguan's interior is possibly the first in a mid-size SUV to really recognise what goes on in the confines of one of these cars.
Metallic paint adds $700 and makes up six of the seven colours in the palette.
The $2000 Driver Assistance Package fitted to our car added 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.
With those two options, our car came out at $44,440 before on-roads.
If you want niceties like heated front seats, keyless entry, leather, power tailgate and a sunroof, they all come together in the $5000 Luxury Package.
The Tiguan's interior is possibly the first in a mid-size SUV to really recognise what goes on in the confines of one of these cars. Families buy them to put themselves and their stuff in, and plenty of that stuff rattles around in most of the competition. Tiguan's interior design team has done a huge amount of work to fill the cabin with useful storage and look after rear seat passengers.
Not only do back seaters get their own air-conditioning vents, they can also set their own temperature. Each outboard seat has a little tray table on which you can balance food, books or a tablet of some description. There's even a little cupholder to go with the two in the fold down armrest, a total of six for the car.
We discovered our son's full-size cello would fit easily in the boot with the 60 section of the seats pushed forward.
The second of two ceiling-mounted drop-down storage bins is accessible from the rear, so losable items can be stowed if they're precious (glasses, phones) or aren't big enough for the large door pockets, which also double as bottle holders (again, four for the car). Most storage is lined to stop coins and keys rattling and scratching, while phones and things won't get scuffed.
The biggest complaint about the old car was the small boot. Providing a barely-more-than-hatchback 395 litres, it was well short of its rivals from Japan and Korea. The new Tiguan starts with a much more competitive 520 litres (VDA) which can be expanded to 615 if you push the second row all the way forward (which, to be fair, will be difficult with children who have left behind the car seat). Being the whitest middle class family we know, we discovered our son's full-size cello would fit easily in the boot with the 60 section of the seats pushed forward. We couldn't have hoped for that in the old one.
The Tiguan's new clothes are a welcome change from the old car's. The design of that car was either rushed, done by the work experience kid, or started off well then descended into boredom. It wasn't offensive like a Ssangyong, it just failed to look like one car front to back.
This new one, though. While not pretty in the way a Jaguar is, is very handsome. The lines and proportions are just right, with consistent angles and ideas. The Tiguan has taken the larger Touareg's general look and feel, added some Golf and delivered something much more coherent. It looks great.
It's Audi quality done the Volkswagen way.
The Tiguan (Highline excepted) is really only let down by non-LED daytime running lights and its halogen headlights. It takes away the crispness of the lines, which is a small complaint, but there you are. That's the kind of guy I am.
Inside it is a tremendously well-executed car. Again, the design is coherent and on top of that, absurdly functional. The Comfortline's basic cloth interior is an object lesson in how to do a cloth interior, with excellent material choices and contrasting seat panels in a lighter grey, complete with diamond pattern stitching.
There's nothing edgy or preposterous in here, just a design that was either a long time in the making or put together by extremely talented people. Or both. Either way, it's Audi quality done the Volkswagen way.
Engine and transmission
The 132TSI engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder producing 132kW and a respectable 320Nm of torque (just 20 short of the more expensive diesel). Coupled with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive system, 0-100km/h for the 1600kg Tiguan arrives in 7.7 seconds.
The 132TSI is the SUV to have if you value driving dynamics.
The 132 is rated to tow 2500kg braked and 750kg unbraked, which matches the 110kW diesel's numbers.
VW claims a combined cycle figure of 7.5L/100km of premium unleaded. We enjoyed a dire week of horrendous Sydney traffic in hot and humid conditions and managed 9.8L/100km. These real world numbers aren't as close to the claimed figures as the diesel, which was just a single litre off the claimed figure.
The 132TSI is the SUV to have if you value driving dynamics. Sure, it's not going to be the hot hatch you never had, but with the output of a strong, torquey petrol engine underneath your right foot, and a well-tuned chassis, you've got a car to take the fun-to-drive crown from Mazda's CX-5. Composed ride, good change of direction (belying its 1600kg-plus heft) and the snappy seven-speed DSG means you've got a world-beater at all speeds up to stupid.
What's really impressive is that to go with the competent handling, the Tiguan's ride is smooth and composed. Doesn't seem to matter what surface you travel over, I threw it at everything Sydney has to offer, including the notorious Marrickville Road test, which it passed with just some tyre slap from the gigantic gaps in the concrete. The muted tha-thunk means the cabin remains a calm place to be.
As with the diesel, Sport mode is a mixed blessing.
Revving the engine out also fails to burst the bubble inside, the redline producing just a muted roar before a slick shift up. In Normal mode there is sometimes a slight hesitation on a full bore upshift but in sport, that's all banished.
As with the diesel, Sport mode is a mixed blessing. While throttle and shifts are sharpened up, the steering becomes too heavy and you'll have to really work those guns to hold it steady in the corners as its self-centring becomes a little over-enthusiastic. You might have to spend (gasp!) a couple of minutes setting up a more likeable combination.
The new Tiguan scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in September 2016.
The Driver Assistance Package is a must-have if you can afford it, throwing in the around view cameras, reverse cross traffic alert and active cruise control.
The Tiguan is covered by Volkswagen's standard three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km, and as part of the five-year capped-price servicing regime. The five services cost $3206, or an average of $641 per visit, which is kind of steep. Three years roadside assist is also part of the deal.