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Volkswagen Tiguan R 2023 review: Grid Edition

EXPERT RATING
8.1
The Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition costs less than the Tiguan R, with all the wild and beastly performance of the hi-po SUV it's based on. So what's the catch?

The Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition can be a loud, wild beast tearing at the tarmac with 235kW (more than 300 horsepower!) and next minute a comfortable and quiet mid-sized family SUV.

But another one of its talents is being more than $6000 less to buy than the Tiguan R on which this special edition is based.

How is that possible? What's the catch? Could it be the one of the best buys on the market right now?

You'll know after reading this review.

Volkswagen Tiguan 2023: R Grid Edition
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$66,660

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Tiguan R Grid Edition lists for $63,990 - that's $6500 less than the regular Tiguan R. Volkswagen also says just 300 or so will be made available.

You're saving money because there are some big dollar items in the Tiguan R that didn't make it into the Grid Edition.

So, the Nappa leather upholstery from the Tiguan R is replaced with fabric sports seats in the Grid Edition, it also misses out on a head-up display and 'Matrix' LED headlights.

Check out the Tiguan R Grid Edition’s quad exhaust, its aggro R front bumper, the 21-inch 'Estoril' alloy wheels and the blacked-out grille. Check out the Tiguan R Grid Edition’s quad exhaust, its aggro R front bumper, the 21-inch 'Estoril' alloy wheels and the blacked-out grille.

The good news is all the engineering stays the same and there are still plenty of great features.

Coming standard are 'Performance' LED headlights and LED running lights, three-zone climate control, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, a 9.2-inch media display with sat nav, there's also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The only option available on the Tiguan R Grid Edition is the panoramic sunroof.

When it comes to rivals there's the Cupra Formentor VZe for $62,990, Skoda Kodiaq RS for $69,290, and check out Mazda's new CX-60 Evolve which costs $59,800.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Some carmakers would go overboard in coming up with the styling of a 300+ horsepower mid-sized SUV, but not Volkswagen which is the master of understated, yet cool, design.

Any model wearing that R badge is special. On first glance the Tiguan R Grid Edition looks ready for a boardroom meeting but look closer and you'll see it's ready for battle.

  • The Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition has landed in limited numbers, for less money than a Tiguan R. The Volkswagen Tiguan R Grid Edition has landed in limited numbers, for less money than a Tiguan R.
  • Some carmakers would go overboard in coming up with the styling of a 300+ horsepower mid-sized SUV, but not Volkswagen which is the master of understated, yet cool, design. Some carmakers would go overboard in coming up with the styling of a 300+ horsepower mid-sized SUV, but not Volkswagen which is the master of understated, yet cool, design.
  • On first glance the Tiguan R Grid Edition looks ready for a boardroom meeting but look closer and you’ll see it’s ready for battle. On first glance the Tiguan R Grid Edition looks ready for a boardroom meeting but look closer and you’ll see it’s ready for battle.

Check out the Tiguan R Grid Edition's quad exhaust, its aggro R front bumper, the 21-inch 'Estoril' alloy wheels and the blacked-out grille.

The cabin is a premium looking place but like the insides of all Volkswagens it seems very business class, functional but not too fancy.

Thankfully the sports seats, while not Nappa leather as in the Tiguan R, stop it from all being a bit serious and grown up in here.

The cabin is a premium looking place but like the insides of all Volkswagens it seems very business class. The cabin is a premium looking place but like the insides of all Volkswagens it seems very business class.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The Tiguan R Grid Edition is a five-seater, mid-sized SUV, it's not a seven-seater like the Tiguan AllSpace and there isn't an R version of that larger Tiguan. There is an R-Line Allspace, however.

Still, the Tiguan R Grid Edition is spacious with excellent headroom and even at 191cm tall I could sit comfortably in the second row behind my driving position.

This sounds really nerdy, but I love the way Volkswagen does door pockets - they're gigantic and I tend to throw my wallet, house keys and the mobile clutter from the rest of my life in there.

The Tiguan R Grid Edition is spacious with excellent headroom and even at 191cm tall I could sit comfortably in the second row behind my driving position. The Tiguan R Grid Edition is spacious with excellent headroom and even at 191cm tall I could sit comfortably in the second row behind my driving position.

There are four cupholders on board, too (two up front and two in the second row).

The cargo capacity of the boot is big for the class at 616 litres. There are two levels to the boot floor, along with cargo hooks.

You'd expect a $64K SUV to have a power tailgate but the Grid Edition doesn't have one and this is down to the global semiconductor shortage.

The cargo capacity of the boot is big for the class at 616 litres. The cargo capacity of the boot is big for the class at 616 litres.

The manual tailgate is fine, just remember to close it yourself - embarrassingly, on the launch I pressed the 'blank' panel where the button should be only to almost drive off with it open.

Also missing is wireless phone charging, but there are three USB ports (two up front and one in the rear).

Dark tinted side windows in the rear and climate control with directional air vents in the second row are big ticks on my own checklist for a good family car - the kids will be protected from the Aussie sun and travelling in a comfortable temperature. Never had these luxuries in my day...

Climate control with directional air vents in the second row is a big tick on my own checklist for a good family car. Climate control with directional air vents in the second row is a big tick on my own checklist for a good family car.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

In that nose is 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine making 235kW and 400Nm, and it's driving all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

A superb engine, a great transmission with lighting quick changes and brilliant traction from the all-wheel drive system.

And exactly the same as found in a regular Tiguan R. Volkswagen hasn't taken anything out here.

That makes the Tiguan R Grid Edition a 235kW family SUV with a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds. That is quick.

How much fuel does it use? Less than you probably think.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

You'll need to feed your Tiguan R Grid Edition premium unleaded petrol and Volkswagen says that over a combination of open and urban roads you'll use 8.8L/100km.

That's not overly high considering this SUV isn't small, but how much fuel you use will really depend on how you drive it and no there isn't a hybrid or electric version.

A 58-litre tank means the official consumption figure translates to a driving range of around 660km.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

If it's possible to drive in every condition over the space of eight hours then you can do it in Victoria. From grid-locked Melbourne CBD traffic in the hot morning sun to an awesome mountain run with the temperature dropping and mist rolling in.

So, in the space of that day the Tiguan R Grid Edition showed what it could do in pretty much every situation you'll be in.

Traffic is traffic, no matter what car you're sitting in but the Tiguan R Grid Edition is a comfortable place to be with those supportive sports seats, good visibility and light steering.

As we left the suburbs behind and pushed into the countryside towards Lake Mountain in Victoria’s Alpine region, the 235kW turbo-petrol engine cleared its throat and made itself known. As we left the suburbs behind and pushed into the countryside towards Lake Mountain in Victoria’s Alpine region, the 235kW turbo-petrol engine cleared its throat and made itself known.

So, a normal Tiguan in everyday driving, right down to the comfortable and composed ride, even if this Grid Edition rolls on impossibly thin 255/35 R21 Hankook Ventus Evo S1 tyres.

But as we left the suburbs behind and pushed into the countryside towards Lake Mountain in Victoria's Alpine region, the 235kW turbo-petrol engine cleared its throat and made itself known.

Overtaking proved to be quick and simple on the highway, and hills were squashed easily by the grunt of that engine.

There's a little blue 'R' button on the steering wheel which puts the Tiguan R Grid Edition into 'Race' mode - more like Beast mode. The dampers firm up for flatter handling and the exhaust note changes to a deep rumble.

Overtaking proved to be quick and simple on the highway, and hills were squashed easily by the grunt of that engine. Overtaking proved to be quick and simple on the highway, and hills were squashed easily by the grunt of that engine.

The Tiguan R Grid Edition isn't just powerful, it turns into corners beautifully, the transmission downshifting like a pro, the grip from the tyres impressive and the traction from all-wheel drive reassuring.

That same day I drove the T-Roc R Grid Edition as well, the little brother of the Tiguan R Grid Edition. I found the mini-monster T-Roc to be more fun and agile, but it is smaller and lighter with only a fraction less grunt.

Still there are not many mid-sized family SUVs that could outperform the Tiguan R Grid Edition at this price.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Tiguan R Grid Edition was tested by ANCAP in 2016 and received the maximum five-star rating.

Do you remember what you were doing in 2016? I do, I was writing about how amazingly safe the Tiguan was with its newly received five-star ANCAP rating. But that's a while ago now and safety tech benchmarks have come a long way.

To be fair, most new models are independently assessed when they're new and go through the process again when a major change or new generation is launched.

And this Tiguan model is getting towards the end of its cycle and will be replaced soon by an entirely fresh version.

What's important to know is that while the Tiguan R Grid Edition has a good crash rating and great safety tech like AEB, lane keeping assistance and manoeuvre braking (for parking), it misses out on blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

These are two safety aids that help enormously and it's a shame they aren't included here on a family SUV.

It's for these reasons the Tiguan R Grid Edition hasn't scored tremendously well in this safety section. But make no mistake - this is a very safe SUV.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX points and three top tether anchor mounts across the rear row.

You are well sorted for airbags, too. Curtain airbags extend from the front to the back, Plus for the driver and the co-pilot there are front and side airbags, plus a driver's knee airbag.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Tiguan Grid Edition is covered by Volkswagen's five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

A five-year servicing plan costs $3200 (annual average $640) and you'll need to get the car serviced every 12 months or 15,000km.

Expensive servicing and no standard capped prices lowers the score here.

Verdict

If there is a catch to the discounted price of the Tiguan R Grid Edition it's that you'll have to live without leather seats and a head-up display, which is fine in my books as long as the dynamics and engine are the same, which they are in this special SUV.

What isn't ideal is the Tiguan R Grid Edition not having blind-spot warning or rear cross-traffic alert, which are standard on the regular Tiguan R.

Volkswagen had to make a hard decision there, and to be fair, the lack of availability of semiconductors is the reason behind this, not cost reduction.

If you are able to accept this, you'll have a relatively affordable SUV that can do both beast mode and family mode with impressive skill.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$64,599
Based on 404 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$42,990
Highest Price
$86,887

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
132TSI Life 2.0L, —, 7 SP $43,560 – 50,600 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 2023 132TSI Life Pricing and Specs
110TSI Life 1.4L, —, 6 SP $39,380 – 46,310 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 2023 110TSI Life Pricing and Specs
147TDI R-Line 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP $56,210 – 64,570 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 2023 147TDI R-Line Pricing and Specs
162TSI Elegance 2.0L, —, 7 SP $51,370 – 59,070 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 2023 162TSI Elegance Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality9
Under the bonnet9
Efficiency8
Driving9
Safety7
Ownership7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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