Not broken, fix it anyway
The Volkswagen Tiguan has been with us since 2008, but it doesn’t feel that long.
This is mostly due to the fact that it was pretty much near the top of its segment, even at the end of its rather long lifespan.
There were lots of reasons to love the first generation Tiguan, chief among which was the overall feeling of quality. We’ll never forgive that satisfying ‘thud’ its doors would make when they closed. You just knew from the get-go that it was put together properly.
In terms of style the new model is a giant leap forward, depending on how you specify the vehicle. In its standard configuration it’s a fairly sedate and inoffensive product, but that changes when you tick the box marked R-Line on the options list.
For an additional R18 000, you get some chrome, a few aggressive styling bits and bobs and a nice set of alloys.
On the inside, it’s good news as usual. Touch points are superb, noise vibration and harshness levels are sublime and the list of standard kit is surprisingly generous. The base Trendline specification already gives you everything you could possibly need with the Comfortline specification only elevating the overall aura of quality thanks to some cosmetic touches.
The standard radio offers every kind of connectivity and function the average person needs, but two other infotainment systems are available. We’d opt for the mid-range touchscreen offering as it works a charm. We’d also fork over a few bucks extra for the Active Info Display, which is basically a digital instrument cluster. That display and the buttons on the steering wheel mean you never have to take your eyes far from the road.
Space is generous up front, in the rear and in the luggage compartment, which boasts over 600 litres of packing space. The inclusion of a full-size spare wheel also doesn’t affect the boot capacity, as it so often does on competitor vehicles.
For now, the Tiguan is only available with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and only in front-wheel drive. Fear not, because as far as small turbocharged petrol engines go, this one is the best. Without even trying, we managed to get a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.7l/100km out of the manual model.
When coupled to a manual box, the 1.4 TSI delivers 92kW and 200Nm of torque. It doesn’t sound like much, but thanks to that turbocharger, it feels a lot gutsier than the raw figures suggest. The six-speed is a slick as they come, which makes it a joy to row through the gears.
And as much as we like that configuration, we wouldn’t bother with any model not fitted with VW’s DSG box. It’s not that the manual is bad, it’s just that the DSG as so outstanding that we can’t imagine ordering a Tiguan with anything else.
In DSG guise, the power is lifted to 110kW and 250Nm. That’s slightly down compared to its major competitors, but we honestly couldn’t pick up the difference between it and the 130kW Hyundai Tucson standing in our long-term fleet.
We were never afforded a proper opportunity to drive it on gravel, but as the first models are only front-wheel drive, we won’t mutter too much. We can tell you that it has all the right stuff to go where all its major competitors can, but we’ll reserve judgement on that until the all-wheel drive option arrives.
In the city, and on the open road, it’s currently at the front of the pack. The ride is comfortable, but you need only take one sweeping corner at speed to realise that there’s a hint of sportiness too. ‘Sporty’ is perhaps too strong a word, so we’d rather tone it down and call it ‘confidence inspiring’. At the end of the day, it’s exactly what it should be. The ride is plush, it never feels anything but planted and the weight of the steering is perfectly judged.
Prices start at just R378 000 for the entry-level (for lack of a better word) Trendline, which represents great value for money, especially considering its Germanic roots. The Comfortline manual retails for R419 000, while the 110kW DSG Comfortline comes in at R457 680.
The new Tiguan is sold with a five-year/90 000km service plan, three-year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.