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True professional wrestling fans (of course it’s real!) will understand how the Volkswagen Tiguan feels. On release in August last year, the current model dropped into a Royal Rumble between the toughest combatants in one of the most hotly contested parts of the Australian new car market.
More than 20 medium SUV warriors already in there, doing their level best to smack the others down with moves even the over-worked and distracted referee is struggling to catch.
The Mazda CX-5 is flying off the top rope in a spectacular attempt to powerslam Toyota’s RAV4, while the Hyundai Tucson sets up a brainbuster on the fearless Nissan X-Trail. Kia’s Sportage has somehow smuggled a folding chair into the ring and is proceeding to smash it over the Subaru Forester’s head, while the Mitsubishi Outlander is angling for a sleeper hold on Honda’s CR-V.
But the 162 TSI is the Hulk Hogan of VW’s Tiguan range. In the process of stepping up from the small to medium SUV segment it’s picked up Eye of the Tiger as its walk-on song. And in this primo Highline trim has standard features comparable to the piledriver, full nelson and Boston crab embedded in its spec sheet.
So, with The Hulkster set to take on the automotive equivalent of The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff in a one-against-two grudge match… let’s get ready to rumble.
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2017: 162 TSI Highline|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Close to 10 years ago, then head of Volkswagen Group design Walter de Silva, set the ball rolling for VW with a distinctive, geometric design language that’s been maintained and subtly developed ever since.
Words like clean, simple and confident spring to mind as the Tiguan ranges into view, but the question of whether it’s actually attractive is, as always, open to discussion.
We’d argue while the car isn’t inspiring, it’s certainly not offensive, and VW’s immediately recognisable corporate face has taken on a more conspicuous, furrowed brow scowl in the Tiguan, with slender headlights and a minimalist grille sitting above a large lower intake.
Nothing fussy in the rest of the exterior, with long, unwavering lines and gentle curves defining the sides of what is now a sizeable SUV - measuring 4.5m long, 1.85m wide and just under 1.7m high – which is 30mm longer and 60mm wider than its predecessor, and plus or minus only a few millimetres away from the Tucson, CX-5 and RAV4. The chrome-topped roof rails are standard on the Highline.
The rear is close to anonymous, with a large VW roundel the only real distinguishing brand feature. That said, a bright chrome rhombus at each lower corner (surrounding an exhaust outlet) signifies the top-shelf 162 TSI petrol powertrain.
Inside, the colour palette stretches all the way from dark grey to black, with ‘Dark Grid’ carbon-fibre-like inlays and the odd hint of chrome hinting at the 162’s racy capabilities.
The cool segmented treatment on the seat centres wouldn’t look out of place in a classic Ferrari, and the minimalist approach to the console, dash and instruments follows the same neat and tidy template as all other current Volkswagens.
A substantial exterior translates into generous interior space with numerous thoughtful inclusions designed to make family travel more comfortable and practical.
The front is roomy and offers lots of storage, including, two cupholders that twist out of sight to free up space in a roll-top centre console box, a larger covered hold-all between the seats, an oddments section in front of the gear shifter (also housing a 12 volt outlet, USB port, and line-in socket), net pockets here and there, a slide-out drawer under the passenger seat, large door pockets including bottle-sized sections, and a sizeable glove box. There is also a handy flip-top box on the dashtop and a pair of drop-down locker-style bins in the roof. Impressive.
The rear delivers plenty of head and legroom, and enough shoulder room for three adults without extreme congestion. I’m 183cm tall, and sitting behind my own driving position had heaps of space.
Back-seaters have access to four cupholders; two in the centre armrest, and one each in the fold-up, three-position tray tables fitted to the front seatbacks. The big door pockets match those in the front, and there are small trays (which look and feel like an opportunistic afterthought) between the rear seat cushion and the doors, as well as map pockets in the front seatbacks.
Individual ventilation outlets, with temp control, at the back of the front centre console is a civilised touch, with another 12 volt outlet sitting underneath.
The wide and flat cargo area provides 615 litres (VDA) of space with the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat upright, and in that mode it swallowed the CarsGuide pram or a trio of hard shell suitcases without drama.
With back seat folded, load capacity rises to 1655 litres, and neat additions include tie-down hooks in the floor, specific lighting, yet another 12 volt outlet, and strategically placed bag hooks.
Tabs to release the rear seatbacks are handily located on either side of the cargo bay, a power tailgate is standard, and the spare is a space-saver housed under the floor.
Towing capacity for a braked trailer is 2500kg, with 750kg the maximum for an un-braked unit.
Cost of entry for the Tiguan 162TSI Highline is $48,490, and that not insubstantial figure delivers a suitably lengthy standard equipment list.
The run-down includes three-zone climate control air, rain sensing wipers, cruise control (including speed limiter), keyless entry, ‘Lane Assist’, ‘Front Assist’ and ‘Park Assist’ with rearview camera, heat insulating tinted glass, auto LED headlights with LED DRLs, 18-inch ‘Kingston’ alloy wheels, LED ambient interior lighting, as well as an 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen providing access to trip and fuel data, as well as vehicle status, audio, phone, and nav menus.
Highline spec also includes heated front sports seats with electric adjustment and three position memory for the driver and ‘leather appointed’ upholstery throughout. The chunky, flat-bottom steering wheel is also leather covered.
The ‘Discover Pro’ eight-speaker audio and sat nav system incorporates a CD player, two SD card slots, 10 gigabyte internal storage, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink connectivity, plus 2D and 3D (bird’s eye) map views.
As the name implies, the Tiguan 162TSI’s (EA888) 2.0-litre direct-injection, intercooled turbo four cylinder engine develops 162kW from 4500-6200rpm, backed up by a peak torque number of 350Nm delivered across a broad plateau between 1500-4400rpm.
It’s an iron block, alloy head, double-overhead cam, 16-valve design (with variable timing on the intake side), and the good news is it’s pretty much a straight lift out of the performance-focused Golf 7 GTI.
Drive goes to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch ‘Direct Shift Gearbox’ (DSG) with sport mode and Tiptronic sequential function.
The ‘4MOTION’ all-wheel drive system, standard on the 162TSI Highline, features an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch which directs torque to the front axle under a relatively low load or when coasting, with the system monitoring road wheel speed, steering angle and throttle position to trigger near instant and simultaneous engagement of the rear axle when required.
Volkswagen quotes a combined (urban/extra urban) fuel figure of 8.1L/100km, and over around 300km of city, suburban and freeway running we recorded 12.6L/100km courtesy of the on-board computer.
Required fuel is 95 RON minimum, and the fuel tank holds 60 litres.
Underpinned by Volkswagen’s incredibly versatile MQB platform (as is the Golf), the Tiguan 162TSI is a delight to drive. Its refinement, performance and seamless dynamic integration are hard to fault.
The engine loses nothing in the transition from Golf Hatch to Tiguan SUV, with quoted 0-100km/h acceleration times identical at a distinctly rapid 6.5 seconds. Its flat slab of low down torque, with agreeably linear throttle response, eases the pain of cut-throat city driving, and once you have more room to move the transition to peak power (at 4500rpm) opens up a genuinely punchy top end.
The DSG dual clutch transmission is smooth and unobtrusive when self-shifting in normal mode, appropriately urgent in the Sport setting, and satisfyingly snappy as a manual.
All-season 235/55 x 18 Pirelli Scorpion Verde rubber sits at the touring end of the performance tyre spectrum, yet it manages to combine with the strut front/four-link rear suspension set-up to deliver a comfortable ride at cruising speeds and taut body control under cornering pressure.
The ‘Electronic Differential Lock’ (EDL) taps into the ABS brake system’s electronics to subtly guide drive to the wheels that can make best use of it, while the standard ‘Extended Electronic Differential Lock’ (XDL) uses the ESP stability system’s hydraulics to prevent wheel spin and reduce the tendency to understeer.
The result is undetectable and the car’s handling is frankly brilliant. The Tiguan 162TSI feels lighter and more responsive than a 1637kg SUV has any right to be, and the electro-mechanically assisted rack and pinion steering is quick and progressive.
Braking is by ventilated discs up front with solid rotors at the rear, and stopping power is strong and consistent.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
In terms of active safety, the 162TSI Highline features loads of relevant tech, much of it built around the brakes; specifically - ABS, BA (Brake Assist), EBD (Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution), Multi-collision brake, and automatic flashing brake lights (activated in an emergency braking situation).
There’s also ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Program), ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation), a tyre pressure indicator system, and Driver Fatigue Detection. Not bad at all, however bits and pieces like Adaptive cruise, Side assist and Rear Traffic Alert are only available as part of the optional ‘Driver Assistance Package.’
But if a crash (not unlike ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage executing a forearm jolt on Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura) is unavoidable, the Highline is well prepared to minimise injury with driver and front passenger airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, driver and front passenger side airbags, curtain airbags (front and rear), and an active bonnet (to enhance pedestrian protection) included in the standard spec.
Volkswagen’s new car warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres, with a specific paint warranty running for the same period.
There’s also a 12 year/unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty covering the main steel body structure.
Required maintenance is scheduled for every 15,000km/12 months, with service pricing capped for the first five visits as follows – i) $417, ii) $606, iii) $674, iv) $1183, v) $417. Not exactly cheap in that fourth year, but at least you know what you’re in for.
The Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI Highline is a quality offering, in the broadest sense of the word. Yes, it’s nicely screwed together, but it’s also capable and composed across the board. The GTI engine adds just the right amount of spark, and the value equation stacks up. A serious contender in the medium SUV cage fight.
|110 TDI Adventure (special ED)||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$26,800 – 35,530||2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 2017 110 TDI Adventure (special ED) Pricing and Specs|
|110 TDI Comfortline||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$25,300 – 33,550||2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 2017 110 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Comfortline||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP||$20,800 – 28,270||2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 2017 110 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|110 TSI Trendline||1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$17,100 – 23,870||2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 2017 110 TSI Trendline Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|