VW Tiguan 2.0L T: The Plain Jane with Surprising Oomph
First, a rant…
From the time Ralph Teetor invented cruise control – the first driver-friendly feature in a vehicle – the race for differentiation has become increasingly heated and enthusiastic amongst car makers, with each manufacturer trying out every new idea, sometimes without fully testing the feature in real-world driving conditions.
One of these differentiation ideas smacked us in the face on the VW Tiguan. Labeled ‘Auto Hold’, it’s a little button on the mid-mounted console next to the electronic parking brake. At first blush, Auto Hold seems very useful for commuters who drive in stop-and-go traffic: when engaged, it allows drivers to take their foot off the brake pedal when the car is stationary, allowing them to rest their legs in traffic. To start again, simply depress the accelerator, and you’re off.
Pretty useful, wouldn’t you say? Yes. But, when you’re reversing to, for instance, parallel-park, you’ll need to remember to turn off Auto Hold or the car will halt itself automatically each time you take the foot off the accelerator, and then surge abruptly when you hit the gas again. This could create uncomfortable situations in tight spaces. You then have to remember to turn it back on when you’re in forward motion again, or you’ll happily take your foot off the brake at a traffic light and rear-end the car in front of you.
It’s called real-world testing, Volkswagen!
Easy on the back
Having gotten that off our chest, we must admit the Tiguan is otherwise a pretty sweet drive. You cannot help but fall in love with its perfectly tuned suspension – after years of testing all manner of mid-spec and economy cars, we are quite confident that the Tiguan’s suspension is among the best we’ve ever tested. This means long drives are incredibly easy on your back. And, since the Tiguan is a full-time 4X4, off-road bumps are also smoothed out better than other similar vehicles.
Despite having full-time 4×4, the little car – named, VW says, after the tiger and the iguana (go figure… but better than calling it the VW Dragon, right?) – is unlikely to do any serious off-roading. The car has no low-range gearing and is intended to mainly be an urban commuter, with a turbo-charged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that generates about 170 bhp through a smooth-changing six-speed gearbox.
The Tiguan won’t win any zero to 100 kph contest, nudging in at just under 9 seconds. Funnily enough, the turbo-charger makes it really zippy after the 30 kph mark: zero to 30 kph feels like you’re moving at the speed of a hungover iguana, and then suddenly you’re off like a tiger (maybe this iguana + tiger thing makes sense, after all).
Larger, more expensive cars will use dual turbo-chargers (called a bi-turbo) or a combination of super-charger and turbo-charger to smooth out that turbo lag, but the Tiguan relies on the driver’s alertness and ability instead. We won’t lie – it takes a little bit of getting used to, but after the first 30 minutes, it starts to become pretty intuitive. The smaller engine size makes for some good fuel-efficiency numbers, however, and a full tank will take you more than 500 kilometers.
Pretty generous electronics combined with a comfortable ride position
Volkswagen has also been generous with electronics, probably to keep commuters comfortable, with auto-up and down for all four windows and Bluetooth connectivity for more than one phone. They have also included steering-mounted cruise control and audio controls, automatic dual air-conditioning systems with a temperature sync option. There’s also a sync option for the wing mirror adjusters, but you’ll need an engineer to figure that one out.
The music output is robust with beautifully differentiated frequencies delivering bell-like clarity. A small grouse, however, is related to the way in which the car’s computer controls your phone or music player’s system, which is slightly clunky compared to the smooth OS’s mounted in American cars. Again, some real-world testing would not have gone amiss in an era when UX is king.
Safety is clearly a priority for the Tiguan’s designers. Not only did we count eight air-bags in the relatively small cabin, but also experienced a larger turning circle for the steering. This makes the car a little difficult to maneuver in tight surrounds. With the parking sensors, it’s still very easy to park, especially for an SUV that can easily fit five people.
Luggage space is a little cramped. You won’t be able to fit a ton of suitcases in there – but it’s big enough for your trips to the beach. Passenger leg-room is quite generous. Remember, this is considered a mid-size SUV by VW’s reckoning; we call it a mini SUV. The exterior incorporates LED running lights and some chrome trim. It’s definitely not one of the modern cars that seem to scream “Look at me!”, but that’s probably not a bad thing.
Overall, comfort and safety are the main priorities of the Tiguan, and it achieves both of these. The torquey turbo adds a dash of edginess. Not bad for a car that looks so boring it camouflages itself perfectly into its background.
|Amazing suspension||Boxy looks|
|High stance||Small luggage space|
|Bluetooth phone and music connectivity|
|High degree of safety|
The (semi-boring) 2.0L Crossover SUV shootout
|VW Tiguan||Audi Q3||Kia Sportage||Nissan Qashqai||Chevrolet Trax|
|Engine||2.0L TC I4 4WD||2.0L TC I4 4WD||2.0L I4 FWD/4WD||2.0L I4 FWD/4WD||1.8L I4 FWD/4WD|
|Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)||7.1||7.0||8.8||8.3||8.2|
|0-100 kph (sec.)||8.5||7.8||11.5||11.3||11.3|
|Top Speed (kph)||201||212||170||180||180|
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