Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid review

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Volkswagen's Tiguan eHybrid offers a proven PHEV package, thinks Jonathan Crouch

Ten Second Review

Volkswagen's Tiguan eHybrid uses the established VW Group PHEV powertrain to deliver a 31 mile all-electric driving range and lots of e-drive options. It's the same sort of thing obvious volume brand mid-sized SUV plug-in competitors offer, but here, the technology's delivered with a bit more polish. In short, there's lots to like if you don't mind the premium pricing.

Background

The Tiguan eHybrid has been a long time in coming. Volkswagen was talking about a PHEV plug-in version of its mid-sized SUV even before the current second generation Tiguan was first launched in 2016 and showed a Tiguan GTE prototype to gauge public reaction. This concept car had a clever roof-mounted solar module that potentially could add around 300 further miles to the all-electric range figure - which we were eager to see. Sadly, that technology hasn't (yet) made it through to production. And probably wouldn't be much use in drizzly Blighty anyway.

What we do have though in this finished Tiguan eHybrid model has plenty of cutting-edge technology, even though the powertrain used here isn't that much different from the one first introduced in a Golf GTE back in 2014. Can it propel this PHEV crossover to the top of the class? Let's see.

Driving Experience

This plug-in petrol/electric engine is the same one that features in GTE versions of the Golf and the Passat, which means that despite all the new-tech fanfare, it's based around mechanicals that the brand has no longer uses in its conventional models - a 1.4 TSI petrol engine and a DSG auto gearbox with only 6-speeds. The engineers have in recent times though, given this plug-in package a bigger 13kWh battery which powers an 85kW electric motor, which is why this Tiguan eHybrid's full-electric driving range when fully charged is rated at a class-competitive 31 miles. Which you won't get anywhere near if you ever approach the eHybrid model's theoretical all-electric top speed of 81mph.

This VW Group PHEV powertrain does as usual have to be paired with front wheel drive. And, as ever, various selectable settings govern the way you can use it. The car always starts off in fully-electrified 'E-Mode', before switching to a 'Hybrid' mode that sees the electric motor and the combustion engine combining together. As part of this setting, you've also a 'Battery Hold' option that will save battery charge until later in your trip; and a 'Battery Charge' setting (in which the battery will be charged as you drive by the TSI engine). There's also a press-on engine-only 'GTE' mode (even though this car isn't badged 'GTE'), this setting enabling a potential 62mph sprint time of 7.5s en route to 127mph. These sprightly figures reflect a total combined system output of 245PS, more than enough to offset the PHEV battery's 135kg weight penalty.

Design and Build

Unless you spot the extra charging flap or the distinct badging, you're unlikely to notice that this eHybrid variant is different from any other Tiguan. This PHEV variant only comes with the conventional five-seat body style and of course features all the most recent Tiguan visual updates. Which means you get a wide grille with an extra lower chrome strip that forges a visual link between the Tiguan and pricier Volkswagen SUVs such as the larger Touareg and the huge Atlas Cross Sport model sold in North America. The standard full-LED headlights which flank this appendage can feature the company's latest IQ.Light matrix technology, which gives you 24 LEDs in each module.

At the wheel, there's a premium-style feel that you just don't get from most competing volume brand mid-sized PHEV crossovers. You sit quite commandingly and the build quality and general ergonomics are difficult to fault. There's a 10.25-inch instrument display screen and a central 'Discover' infotainment display that is 8-inches in size as standard, but which can be upgraded to 9.2-inches on request. Both the instrument binnacle screen and the central monitor have various E-specific read-outs. Two people can sit comfortably in the rear - but three would be tight. Out back, boot space falls by 137-litres because of the need to place the PHEV system's battery beneath the cargo area floor. That means a 437-litre boot capacity - though you can extend that via a standard ski hatch - or of course by folding the 40:20:40-split-rear bench.

Market and Model

We expect Tiguan eHybrid pricing to start at around £38,000 - about the price of a well-specified 2.0 TDI diesel variant. That's premium territory for a mid-sized SUV, but you do at least get decent equipment levels for that. The 'Elegance' and 'R-Line' spec options that most Tiguan eHybrid customers will choose both coe very well specified. 'Elegance' trim gets you Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit Pro' 10.25-inch high resolution TFT dash display screen. And 'Adaptive Cruise Control' embellished with 'Predictive Cruise Control', which uses images from a windscreen camera, along with navigation data, to adjust the car's speed ahead of bends and speed restrictions. There's also Volkswagen's 'Traffic Jam Assist Stop and Go' feature, which in conjunction with the DSG auto gearbox will automatically accelerate your Tiguan in a traffic queue when the vehicle in front moves forward.

Other tech features fitted at this level include Volkswagen's special 'IQ. Light' LED matrix dipped and main beam headlights. There's also a 'Park Assist' system to steer you into spaces, a rear view camera and a gesture-controlled powered tailgate, along with a 30-colour ambient lighting system for the cabin. 'Elegance'-spec also gives you keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, upholstery partly trimmed in 'Art Velours' microfleece, aluminium door sill protectors and heated windscreen washer jets. And an 'Elegance'-trimmed Tiguan eHybrid looks snappy courtesy of larger 'Auckland' dark graphite diamond turned 19-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, LED tinted rear light clusters.

Cost of Ownership

The 31 mile all-electric range served up here could mean that with a typical commute, a Tiguan eHybrid owner might only need to actually visit a fuel station every month or two. Assuming you install a 7kW wallbox charger in your garage, the battery can be replenished from empty in three and a half hours. From an ordinary household plug, the charging time figure rises to around 5 hours. Volkswagen hasn't yet released official fuel and CO2 figures for the eHybrid variant, but based on the readings of mechanically very similar Golf and Passat GTE models, we'd expect these to be around 165-180mpg on the combined cycle and about 40g/km of CO2. Those readings assume driving in the car's most frugal 'Hybrid' driving mode and if they're replicated by the PHEV Tiguan, they could potentially mean a super-affordable 10% Benefit-in-Kind positioning (for reference, a comparable 2.0 TDI 150PS Tiguan model is rated at 37%) and low VED band A rating.

Of course, in the real world, a Tiguan eHybrid won't deliver readings anything like these; expect around 55mpg in regular use, which by our calculations would be slightly better than you'd get from this TDI unit. A slight downside with the eHybrid variant lies with the fact that the battery's positioning under the boot floor necessitates a reduction in fuel tank size, but even so, with a fully-charged battery and a full tank of fuel, a range of over 620 miles ought to be possible - so, for example, you could travel from London to Paris and back without refuelling. Which sounds promising.

Summary

It's puzzling why it took Volkswagen so long to bring us a PHEV version of this Tiguan, given that the technology it uses has been around in a Golf for well over half a decade. This powertrain will, after all make so much sense to the sensible conservative folk who tend to like this uber-sensible Wolfsburg mid-sized SUV.

A Tiguan eHybrid can't offer you the longest all-electric driving range in the segment, but it does feel classier inside than rival PHEV versions of direct competitors like the Ford Kuga, the Peugeot 3008, the Citroen C5 Aircross and the Vauxhall Grandland X. Yes, you could get an even smarter cabin feel by opting for a mechanically very similar Audi Q3 45 TFSIe, but that would cost a great deal more. For quite a few crossover customers tempted by the PHEV concept, what's served up here will be more than sufficient for their needs. It's a very complete package.

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