Mazda CX-5 2017 review
Mazda is currently enjoying a series of successes that's envied by almost every other car company in Australia, with a number of its models striking a real chord with Aussies.
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If humans vanished from the Earth tomorrow, the future space people rifling through our belongings would wonder two things: why so many USB sticks, and why were SUVs so popular?
They’d come to a decision about USBs pretty quickly – it’s obviously currency, some sort of money. As for the large number of SUVs the only answer would be that the world’s roads must have become so bad and prone to flooding in the early 21st century that the inhabitants needed vehicles with more ground clearance. Wrong and wrong, stupid future people. The USBs are for data storage and SUVs are so popular because, um…
Anyway, SUVs are really popular. In February, 2017 a thing happened for the first time ever, actually two things - there was no measurable snow in Chicago and SUVs outsold regular cars in Australia. Are they connected? Um… ?
SUVs are not only getting more popular, they’re getting better. And in an effort to out-better each other the carmakers are adding more tech, improving the ride and handling, and the practicality. And there’s no place where the competition is fiercer than in the mid-size SUV segment in which the Mazda CX-5 is the current king, with the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson breathing down its back bumper.
Volkswagen’s Tiguan is miles behind in sales from those front runners, but then again the new generation version only arrived in late 2016, so maybe word hasn’t got around yet. And now a new grade of Tiguan has arrived - the 162TSI Highline and it’s special. See, it has the engine of the Golf GTI hot hatch and the one we tested has the R-Line package as well, which makes it even more of an agile beast.
So, is this sporty Tiguan just another overpriced German SUV, or would it be a huge mistake not to consider what is basically a ‘Tiguan GTI’?
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2017: 162 TSI Highline|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The previous generation Tiguan was quite small and curvy. This new one has grown so much in size that it’s been bumped up into the mid-size SUV class. The Tiguan has gone all angular, with crisp paper crease-like lines down that broad bonnet and along its sides.
Show me the dimensions, you say. Okay, the Tiguan is now 4486mm long (60mm more than the old car), 1839mm wide (+30mm) and 1658mm tall. But even then it’s still smaller than the CX-5 (4540mm long) and RAV4 (4605mm long).
You can spot a 162TSI Highline from other Tiguans by its trapezoidal exhaust tips and the darkened head and tail-lights. The R-Line package adds a front bumper with gloss black air intakes and a rear bumper with a diffuser that also gets the same gloss black treatment. The pack also brings side skirts, a rear spoiler, chrome tailpipes and 20-inch alloy wheels.
It’s a handsome, prestigious, solid looking beast, and wearing that 'Pure White' paint with gloss black bits it looks more than just a bit like a storm trooper helmet.
Then there’s all the R-line badging which is not just on the grille but also on the steering wheel, the headrests, and the illuminated door sills. The R-Line pack gives the interior leather upholstery and stainless steel pedals, too.
This stylish cabin has a high quality feel and the fit and finish outshines even the best of its rivals.
The new Tiguan’s 2681mm wheelbase is 76mm longer than the previous one – that’s a decent upsize and means more cabin space. I’m 191cm, which means I shouldn’t dance unless I have sufficient space around me, and also means I can’t sit behind my driving position in many of the cars I test. But I can in the Tiguan with about 3cm of air between my knees and the seat back. I have about the same amount of headroom back there, too.
Storage is excellent – the luggage capacity of the Tiguan’s boot is 615 litres (VDA), which is 200 litres more than the CX-5’s cargo room, and 30 litres more than the RAV4’s. The boot also has built-in plastic tubs on each side for wet clothes; there are similar moulded tubs on the outside seats in the back row, two cup holders in the centre fold-down armrest and two more up front.
There are gigantic bottle holders in all the doors, a drawer under the front passenger’s seat and a net pocket on that side of the centre console. The driver has a pull-out tray nearest their door on the dash and there’s also the centre console storage bin, two overhead drop-down boxes, and a dash-top bin with a pop-up lid.
There are tray tables with pop out cup holders on the backs of the front seats and map pockets below them.
There is a spare wheel, but it’s a space saver.
The Tiguan 162 TSI Highline lists for $48,490, the $4000 R-Line package and $2000 Driver Assistance Package bring that up to $54,490, while our car's non-metallic 'Pure White' paint doesn’t cost extra.
The 'Driver Assistance Package' swaps the traditional speedo and tacho for a virtual instrument cluster, able to transform into your navigation map, among other things. It's as pretty as it is useful.
The pack also brings the excellent adaptive cruise control, which takes care of all the tedious stopping and starting in heavy motorway traffic, as well as rear cross traffic alert and lane keeping assistance.
We’ve been through what the R-Line package brings in our chat about the design of the car including the leather seats with embossed R-Line logos, but looks aside it also adds 'Adaptive Chassis Control' which is normally only on Volkswagen’s GTI and R models.
Being the top grade, the 162TSI Highline has pretty much Volkswagen’s entire inventory of features thrown at it. There’s the 8.0-inch touchscreen with the top of the range 'Discover Pro' media unit with voice control. It’s also ready for Apple Car play and Android Auto, plus there’s an excellent eight-speaker sound system.
Add in a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto parking, an automatic tailgate with kick open function, three-zone climate control, proximity unlocking, LED headlights and DRLS, and tinted rear windows.
The 162TSI Highline is powered by a 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. That’s a lot of power - as much as a 5.8-litre Ford Falcon V8 from the 1970s. This is the same engine which is in the current Golf GTI (although the new GTI, due here by the middle of 2017, will have a smidge more power).
It’s an excellent engine, and even though the Tiguan is about 300kg heavier than the Golf GTI it has the same 0-100km/h time of 6.5s, which is quick for a hatch, and unmatched for a mid-sized SUV in this price bracket.
The most powerful engine in Mazda’s CX-5 range is 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre four, while the best a petrol RAV4 can do is 132kW/233Nm. The 162 TSI would leave both in its rear vision mirror.
The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, called a DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) by VW.
Oh, and it’s all-wheel drive.
The R-Line package doesn’t add any extra grunt, but it does give it better handling.
The 162TSI Highline is the most powerful Tiguan and also the thirstiest. Volkswagen says it will need on average 8.1L/100km. After a week, according to the car’s trip computer it was sucking 95 RON premium unleaded at an average rate of 13.6L/100km. I do drive like I eat though, and I wolf my food down… it’s not pretty.
A stop-start system will also save you fuel, although it is quick to kill the engine, and that takes a little getting used to.
I put more than 350km on the clock of our test car and spent hours at a time in the driver’s seat, and here’s want I learnt.
The 255/40 R20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres on our car are far more cushioning than the 235/55 R18 Continental ContiSportContact 5 rubber on the 140TDI I tested recently, even though they’re much lower profile.
Combine this with well sorted suspension and you’ve got a comfortable and composed ride, that feels reassuringly firm and not floaty.
Handling is excellent for a mid-sized SUV in the price bracket, thanks to the MQB chassis and the R-Line package’s drive modes which allow you to firm up the suspension. It’s agile and changes direction superbly, but cornering at higher speed does reveal a bit of body roll, and with that comes some tyre squeal. But that's normal for an SUV, which has a high centre of mass and suspension with more travel than a 'normal' car.
Forward and rear visibility is excellent, although the window sills in the back row are too high for my toddler in his car seat to see out.
The front seats could be more figure hugging – and if at 80kg and 191cm I’m moving about a bit in the corners, somebody leaner and littler would definitely not be supported much.
The all-wheel drive system is spot-on. Some of the roads I tested this SUV on had a worrying amount of moss making a home on them and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it through those bends in the same controlled fashion if there wasn’t a computer adjusting traction and drive to the four wheels.
Steering is light in Comfort mode and is given more weight in Sport mode. There’s such great feel and communication through the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself is small and fitted my hands perfectly.
A quiet cabin with almost no wind or road noise finding its way in tops off a driving experience which is well above the norm in this segment.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Tiguan has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. AEB is standard on all Tiguans, but the Driver Assistance package on our test example brings adaptive cruise control, 360 camera, blind spot warning with lane changing assistance, and rear cross traffic alert.
There are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts for child seats.
The Tiguan 162 TSI Highline is covered by a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Servicing is recommended at 15,000km/12 month intervals with the first costing $417, the second will be $606, the third is $674, the fourth is $1183, and the fifth is back to $417.
The Tiguan 162TSI Highline with the R-Line pack is consistently excellent across the board from value, features and practicality, to ride, performance and handling. The only area where it loses ground to its rivals is in ownership because, going by Volkswagen’s price guide, it may cost you more to service . Still, this is very possibly the best mid-sized SUV on the planet in this price range, and it would certainly be a huge mistake not to consider the Tiguan 162 TSI Highline (and the R-Line package) if you’re hunting for a sporty mid-sized SUV.
|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|
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|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|