Volkswagen's Tiguan offers premium quality at affordable prices in the compact SUV sector. Jonathan Crouch reports on the second generation 1.4 TSI 150PS ACT petrol version.
Ten Second Review
A jacked-up Volkswagen Golf? Yes it is and it's sold so well it's maker now talks of this compact 4x4 as the 'fourth pillar' of the VW range. It only uses the Golf's best engines and has 4MOTION 4WD - though not in the 1.4-litre petrol form we look at here. With updated style and more efficient engine technology, this MK2 model looks like a winner all the way. Especially in this 1.4 TSI 150PS ACT guise.
Volkswagen's Tiguan crossover has established itself as one of its best selling models. It won't be much good in the Namibian wilderness, but very efficient on road, even in relatively pokey petrol form, which is what we've got here with this 2WD 1.4 TSI 150PS ACT derivative. As with the rest of the Tiguan range, this model has been fundamentally revised in MK2 model form, with looks brought into line with the rest of VW's current range. The headlights look more complex and feature daytime running LEDs, there's a wider and more imposing two-bar grille and a sleeker front bumper, too. LEDs also make an appearance in the taillights.
First, you'll want to know how this car will feel on the school and shopping runs where it'll spend most of its time. Pretty good is the answer. Bodyroll is well controlled and the electric power steering's responsive, though even without the optional sports suspension, the ride might be a little firm and springy for some tastes - why is perhaps why some owners apparently christen their cars 'Tigger'. If that's an issue for you, there's the option of specifying an extra-cost ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system via which 'Normal', 'Comfort' and 'Sport' modes enable you to tailor the suspension to suit the mood you're in and the road you're on. It's an easy car to drive in-town thanks to good all-round visibility and reasonably a tight 12m turning circle. And this self-parking system's a real boon in such an urban environment, effortlessly steering you into the tightest spaces. On the open road, as I've already suggested, there's nothing especially memorable about the driving experience, but it is pleasantly refined, with a slick feel to the six-speed manual gearbox, or as an option Volkswagen's silky-smooth DSG twin-clutch 7-speed semi-automatic. Right from the beginning of its life, all the Tiguan's engineware has been turbocharged and nothing's changed on that front in this revised version. This petrol 1.4 TSI model with 150PS offers clever ACT active cylinder technology and makes 62mph in 9.2s en route to 125mph.
Design and Build
Volkswagen's Head of Design Klaus Bischoff describes the look of this second generation Tiguan model as 'highly passionate'. Perhaps it is - in a very German sort of way. It's certainly an intricately fashioned thing, cut like a diamond with super-sharp slashes and creases. And it's bigger than before, 60mm longer and 30mm wider, though the height has been reduced by 33mm to create a lower, leaner stance. More important though of course, is the stuff you can't see, specifically the stiffer, more sophisticated Golf-style MQB platform underpinnings that lie beneath the precise, carefully contoured lines. This hi-tech chassis has been fundamental in the creation of this slightly bigger, significantly lighter and more sophisticated car that, as we'll see, also uses its interior space more efficiently. You certainly appreciate this from behind the wheel, but what's even more evident from the moment you slide into the hip-height seats is that this Tiguan has broken rank with the Qashqai-class models it used to compete with and can now offer properly premium class quality. Take a seat in the back and you're in the area of the car where you most appreciate the benefits of this MK2 model's extra 26mm of interior length - there's 29mm more knee room on offer this time round and the flexibility to further improve things by using a sliding rear bench. Out back, the hatch rises to reveal a spacious 520-litre boot.
Market and Model
Prices range between £24,500 and around £26,000 for this 1.4-litre TSI 150PS ACT 2WD petrol model and there's a choice of 'S' or 'SE Nav' trim levels. As for equipment, well even entry-level 'S' trim gets you 17-inch alloy wheels and the 'Composition Media' system with its 8.0-inch touchscreen. Via this display, you'll access an eight-speaker DAB stereo system with Bluetooth 'phone connectivity, an SD card reader and a USB connection. Volkswagen also throws in roof rails, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, auto headlamps and wipers, a dual-height boot floor, a proper space-saver spare wheel and an impressive rosta of basic safety equipment. A useful option is the Park Assist system, able to automatically locate, then steer you into the tightest roadside space. Other popular options include a keyless entry and start system, a vast panoramic glass roof, bi-xenon headlamps and touchscreen sat nav. Tarmac driving aids include the XDS electronic differential lock to improve handling when driving quickly though bends. And the ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system able to adjust the suspension to suit the mood you're in and the road you're on. 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.
Cost of Ownership
When it comes to running costs for this Volkswagen, it's best not to dismiss the petrol option entirely, especially if, like many Tiguan owners, you're a low mileage motorist. Thanks to clever ACT Active Cylinder Technology, this 150PS 1.4 TSI 2WD petrol model will save you around £2,000 on its 2.0 TDI 150 counterpart, is significantly faster and will still manage 48.7mpg on the combined cycle and 132g/km of CO2. What else? Well residual values will be strong and insurance costs are reasonable, rated at group 18E on the 1-50 groupings scale. And 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.
Volkswagen has gone further than most manufacturers in perfecting its crossover credentials - and the result is reasonably affordable in this 1.4 TSI 150PS ACT petrol guise. With slick styling and a tempting package of electronic driver aids, this Tiguan makes a valiant attempt at throwing off the soft-roader stereotypes and differentiating itself from the growing glut of similar vehicles that ply the market place. Here we have a compact 4x4 with Golf-inspired build quality and strong driving dynamics. Factor in highly advanced engine technology along with Volkswagen badging that's certain to go down a storm in this image-conscious sector and this Tiguan's future would appear to be mapped out.