When the new Volkswagen Tiguan arrived in 2018 it made a substantial statement. It was an absolute looker for what was a Golf-sized SUV equivalent for a large chunk of the car-buying market. But it wasn’t just a handsome cut of mid-sized SUV, it was as accomplished and accessible as the celebrated Golf that it seemingly has now replaced. Volkswagen SA couldn’t move them quickly enough and the Tiguan very quickly rose to top sales figures in the segment, despite a really strong showing from all opposition be it from Korea, Japan, Sweden and France.
I didn’t think the facelifted Tiguan could possibly command as much attention as the all-new product line, but certainly from my own eye and experience, it really did. Somehow, that sporty elegance has been improved to a point where the Tiguan has never been more desirable, not just in its own segment but certainly, its design and reputation cuts across segments both above and below. People who can’t afford it still want it and people who were considering something higher up the food chain are thinking twice. In the popular R-line spec with 20-inch Suzuka alloys, it looks fantastic.
My ultimate commendation of the Tiguan is the ease with which it can be driven. It feels like home, despite VW’s overhaul of the interior operating concept with the introduction of the Digital Cockpit. For the most part, Tiguan owners will be okay with it for its modernity and cool factor but as with a lot of this tech, operating it on the go can be tricky especially on bumpy surfaces such as gravel roads where I’m certain these cars will venture occasionally. The new Tiguan is devoid of even the climate control buttons from the pre-facelift model. I particularly have an issue with the absence of a conventional volume dial or a more usable temperature setting. The volume operation for the passenger can be frustrating at speed. At least the driver can make use of an extensively useful multi-function steering wheel. From the driver’s pew, one can control almost all the digital cockpit functions. Once you’re used to the haptic feedback and how they work, you’ll be master and commander quite quickly. The temperature and ventilation speed controls also take some getting used with a slider control that is hard to operate on the move.
Besides these frustrations, the Tiguan exudes typical Volkswagen qualities. It is well built and plays family SUV very well. The rear seats recline(slightly) for those who prefer to laze in the back and legroom and headroom too, is commendable. The boot is a generous 520-litres of which is in line with the segment. It’s not segment-leading but it’s in line with or better than quite a few competitors. The Koreans however, have that waxed.
The Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI R-Line is the flagship of the range – for now. Volkswagen has announced that a more potent Tiguan R will join us some time this year but the 2.0 TSI has held that baton and it does so with commendable charm yet still respectfully leaving enough room for the ‘R’. Powering the 2.0 TSI is still the EA888 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine tuned to 162kW and 350Nm of torque. It is paired with a 7-speed DSG transmission and up until this point, this sounds fiery enough in hot hatch terms – BUT – it drives a heavier body with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system and that ultimately tempers the performance to a certain degree. It isn’t dull and boring by any means. Performance is studious rather than mesmerising. Good, but not exciting.
That translates into the rest of the drive too. The Tiguan 2.0 TSI drives with poise and purpose. That purpose is doing the business for which most family SUV’s would be called. Its ride and handling is excellent at any speed with a chassis that responds with tempered safety when pushed to its limits. For those who love the numbers: 0 – 100 km/h takes 6,5-seconds and it will go on to a top end of 225 km/h.
Where the Tiguan rises in sales terms can’t only be attributed to the badge on the bonnet or its arresting looks. Part of its repertoire is an extensive list of technology specifications. In this Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI R-Line, the standard list is long and fancy: a digital instrument cluster, multi-function steering wheel, keyless start and entry, ambient lighting and cruise control to name a few. Options include Harmon Kardon sound; Discover Pro entertainment system with wireless App Connect, adaptive cruise control with park and trailer assist, a panoramic roof, Heads-up display, the IQ Lights, Matrix LED package and an Aerial view camera system…to name a few.
A base price of R738 400 isn’t cheap by any means. Swelled with options, the Tiguan 2.0 TSI R-Line can easily peek over the R800 000 mark. That said, the car is nearly faultless for the urban consumer. Its 190mm ground clearance won’t convince those with a penchant for harder off-roading adventures and you would have to be careful when negotiating ruts and or some pavements. But as a modern, premium SUV with great ride and build quality and a strong retail support base, the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 4Motion is a really good option in this segment.