The Tiguan Match replaces the SE, drops the price and adds more equipment. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
File this one under 'What's Not To Like?' Volkswagen has replaced the Tiguan SE with the Tiguan Match, shaved £450 off the price of its compact SUV while at the same time adding £700 worth of extra equipment. Touch screen sat nav and 17-inch alloys are just the start.
If it weren't for the puzzling Phaeton, the Tiguan could probably be positioned as Volkswagen's great underachiever. Here was the car that was going to plant on right in the chops of the Land Rover Freelander and the BMW X1 but which has itself found itself something of a minority interest model. Buyers have looked at the Tiguan, decided it offers them little over a Golf in real terms and stuck with the tried and tested. It's not as if Volkswagen hasn't tried to woo them to the Tiguan's charms. It was facelifted in 2011 and a ritzy R-Line variant attempted to sex up the image somewhat but it's in the middle of the range that the Germans may well find most joy. The Tiguan Match is the car that aims to change those fortunes. It replaces the old Tiguan SE, stuffs in a bunch of extra equipment and drops the price. Still want that Golf?
The Tiguan Match is offered with a decent selection of powerplants. The petrol engines kick off with the 160PS 1.4-litre TSI unit, available as either a front-wheel drive platform or with 4MOTION all wheel drive. Should you require a little more zip, try the 180PS 2.0-litre TSI, sold exclusively with drive going to all four corners. If you'd prefer the torque of a diesel, there's the 2.0TDI four pot in either 140 or 177PS forms, the former offered with either front or all-wheel drive. All but the 1.4-litre cars and the front wheel drive 2.0 TDI 140 are offered with the option of a DSG twin-clutch sequential transmission. Whether you choose a Tiguan or a Golf probably comes down to how much you value the presence of all-wheel drive. Should you find yourself in a position where traction is at a premium, you'll be glad of the Haldex all-wheel-drive system and a whole suite of electronic trickery to make the most of that traction advantage. Ground clearance isn't too bad but don't try to get the Tiguan into places where a Freelander might just crawl through. You'll be requiring a rope.
Design and Build
The Match version of the Tiguan replaces the previous SE model and, to be honest, doesn't look all that different. Yes, you do get a set of 17-inch 'New Orleans' alloy wheels and Match badging but that's about the sum of the exterior changes. Otherwise the recipe is largely the same as the rest of the Tiguan family. This means a rear bench seat that can slide fore and aft by up to 16cm and recline by up to 23-degrees for greater comfort on longer journeys. As usual in this class of car, three adults would be a little squashed on the back seat but two will have decent standards of head, leg and shoulder room and three kids will be fine. Out back, there's 470-litres of total boot space and the option of a ski-hatch for longer items. If that's not enough, pushing forward the 60:40 split-folded rear bench frees up a total of 1510-litres. You can carry quite heavy loads too, thanks to a payload capacity of 670kg. There's plenty of room for smaller items both in the under-seat drawers and also under the boot floor, alongside the space-saver spare wheel.
Market and Model
The Tiguan's been around for a while now and with every passing iteration, Volkswagen seems to think that piling more equipment into it will revitalise its chances. It hasn't really worked but the upshot is that the Tiguan Match comes packed with gear. On top of the outgoing SE, the Tiguan Match adds a colour touch screen satellite navigation system and Bluetooth, as well as an MDI media interface with leads for iPhone (4 and earlier) and USB. There's also a CD/DVD player, SD card provision and a DAB digital radio. A multifunction steering wheel (trimmed in leather, just like the gear lever and handbrake) enables operation without taking your hands from the wheel. Standard 2Zone climate control helps to keep the temperature just right on either side of the cabin, while folding picnic tables on the back of the front seats ensure that rear-seat passengers are well catered for. Safety kit includes six airbags (with rear sidebags an option) and an ABS system with emergency brake assist for sudden stops instantly advertised to following motorists by hazard warning lights that automatically flash as you screech to a halt. There are also Isofix child seat fastenings, anti-whiplash head restraints and the usual electronic assistance for traction and stability control. You also get a fatigue detection system that focuses on your steering and driving behaviour for the first 15 minutes of every journey, then periodically monitors it thereafter. If your reactions seem sluggish and indicative of tiredness, the system will bleep at you until you take a break.
Cost of Ownership
Given that this Tiguan Match targets private buyers and campaigns on the basis of its strong value proposition, you wouldn't really expect it to then fall flat on its face when it comes to running costs. To that end, Volkswagen has chosen the engines wisely for this model, offering plenty of choice between front and four wheel drive, petrol or diesel and manual or DSG gearboxes. The majority of buyers will doubtless plump for the economical diesel models but don't overlook the 1.4-litre TSI petrol variant just because it would at first appear to be a very small capacity engine for such a hefty vehicle. A sprint to 60 in just 8.6 seconds should put paid to that supposition. It can return better than 42mpg on the combined cycle and as long as you're not routinely using it fully loaded to the gunwales or for towing, it's a worthwhile option. In fact, were it not for the fact that DSG is offered with the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine, it would make trading up to the larger capacity unit appear rather extravagant. The 2.0 TDI 140 diesel powerplant returns 48.7mpg on the combined cycle and puts out 150g/km of CO2. Servicing costs can also be kept to reasonable levels thanks to a choice of servicing regimes - 'Time & Distance' for low mileage cars or a 'LongLife' programme for those regularly covering over 25 miles a day. Go for the latter approach and it can be possible to drive for up to 20,000 miles or 24 months without a major service.
If you want a compact SUV and quite like the image of the Volkswagen Tiguan, this Match version is going to be a very welcome addition to the range. It would be churlish to grumble at what Volkswagen's done with this car, improving the value proposition by over £1,000 when the price decrease and equipment additions are taken into consideration. It should be enough to boost sales by a few units but it's not going to change the fortunes of the Tiguan markedly, a car that hasn't really connected with British buyers in quite the way Volkswagen hoped. As time has passed, the Tiguan has been gradually polished and preened into something very competitive. Yes, it can still look anonymous if you choose the wrong colour and with Match prices starting at over £23,000, you can buy bigger and cheaper SUVs elsewhere but if you've got the money and have previously ignored the Tiguan, this might well be the time to give it a second chance.