2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI Review

$8,330 $9,900 Dealer
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2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI Review & Road Test

Ready to tackle the concrete jungle

Model Tested:

  • Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI 4MOTION Wagon 6 Speed Manual - $35,990 (RRP)

Performance, Economy, European Styling, Build Quality Waiting List, Tall First Gear, Bluetooth Availability

CarAdvice Rating:

- by Matt Brogan

Until now there was one glaring omission from Volkswagen's model lineup, the compact SUV. But rather than rush in to things and give us some half baked botch job, Wolfsburg has gone to considerable lengths in producing an attractive, well packaged and highly capable vehicle at a price to shame many lesser spec’ed Japanese rivals.

The oddly named Tiguan gains origins not blowing in the wind like most other Volkswagens (Polo, Golf, Jetta, Passat), but rather from combining the two German animal names for Tiger (Tiger) and Leguan (Iguana) through a public vote of 350,000 people held by Auto Blid magazine.

First seen in concept form at the Los Angeles Motor Show in 2006, Tiguan made its sales debut in Europe earlier this year and was released to the Australian market last month amid keen interest from family and recreational buyers alike, pushing demand (and therefore waiting lists) well beyond preliminary expectations.

In a market spoilt for choice (Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, KIA Sportage, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Holden Captiva, Toyota RAV4, BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander, Mazda CX7, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Dodge Nitro, Nissan X Trail, Suzuki Vitara – need I go on), the Tiguan stands out for not only representing extraordinary value for money, but for delivering surprising fuel economy without losing valuable, sensible power.

Our test vehicle is the base model 103TDI (103 kilowatt turbo diesel injection) manual variant, which by early indications is proving the more popular seller (albeit in automatic guise) in what is essentially a two horse race. The 103TDI shares trim specifications with a similarly priced petrol variant, the 125TSI, before being topped by the high-end, high-powered 147TSI model.

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Under the bonnet an adroit 2.0 litre turbo diesel four cylinder makes 103kW @ 4,000rpm and offers a very generous 320Nm from just 1,750 revs. Power delivery is effortless when pandering around town but by the same token isn’t afraid to snap in to the higher reaches of the tacho for spirited overtaking or runs from the lights.

In all rev ranges, with perhaps the briefest of lag from standstill, the engine performs dexterously, is brilliantly capable, and offers a flexibility in delivery seemingly oblivious to the laden weight carried, boasting an obvious advantage over its similarly priced petrol sibling.

Fuel consumption around town runs consistently between 8.4 and 8.6 litres per hundred k, which is only one litre above the combined ADR result of 7.4 litres. Out on the open road Tiguan merely sips fuel in the mid 4 litre range making anyone doing a lot of highway miles mad to consider anything but the diesel option.

With sure footed road holding from the highly acclaimed 4MOTION all wheel drive system and a slick shifting six speed manual making cog swapping a breeze, Tiguan feels seamless and tactile with terrific grip and marked competence displayed in all weather conditions, and despite Tiguan’s considerable mass, the vehicle performs fervently and feels both agile and settled, even through some more zealously driven country corners.

The AutoHold feature, part of Tiguan’s automated park brake, is a welcomed addition to the category and is used as the name suggests to automatically hold the brakes whilst at rest until you’ve released the clutch (or in auto applied throttle pressure) to move off again. It stops any unwanted rolling back (or forward) from standstill and makes tight parking on an incline or any weekend off road jaunts a brilliantly easy task – just think how easy slipping the boat in would be.

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Perhaps my only qualm with Tiguan’s drive (if any), is that first gear does seem quite tall in many normal situations and unless the vehicle is fully loaded or you’re faced with a precipitous incline, second will do just nicely.

Inside it’s quiet, refined, comfortable and has a contemporary European ambiance which I feel rates more highly than that of similarly priced rivals. Although material composition is no doubt similar to that of Tiguan’s competitors, the way in which the décor is drawn together as a whole presents a more rewarding aesthetic feel, reflecting Volkswagen’s overall feel of durability.

The amount of space available is well utilised and easily as flexible as the next SUV boasting some 395 litres with seats up (to window height) or 1,510 litres with the 60/40 split fold rear seat down. This area can also be further increased by removing the spare wheel cradle to include the under floor space – very nifty for nursery runs or a trip to Bunnings.

Tiguan’s standard kit includes an MP3 compatible CD tuner, power windows, heated power mirrors, dual zone climate control, power steering, remote central locking, cruise control, leather steering wheel with remote audio and cruise controls, trip computer, cloth trim, 16” alloy wheels, roof rails, and a cargo area cover which makes many rivals seem underdone.

A slake list of optional extras is also available, including the brilliant RNS510 satellite navigation and reverse camera package as shown in our test vehicle. You can also tick a six speed automatic transmission, heated leather trim, dynaudio 300W stereo upgrade package, sunroof, 18” alloys and xenon headlamps, though sadly a Bluetooth integration package is not yet available in Australia.

Tiguan is a great all rounder and hits the competition for six, and although it may seem a little dearer than some rivals, the power, economy, and overall package represent a fine example of the old ‘get what you pay for’ adage. I’d happily have one any day.

CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:


  • Engine: 1968cc turbo diesel four cylinder
  • Power: 103kW @ 4,000rpm
  • Torque: 320Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • Transmission: Six Speed Manual
  • Driven Wheels: All Wheel Drive
  • Brakes: Disc with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • 0-100km: 10.5 seconds
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 64 litres
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.4 litres / 100km (Combined)
  • Safety: ESP; TCS; Front, Side & Curtain Airbags
  • NCAP Rating: Five Star
  • Spare Wheel: Space Saver
  • Towing Capacity: 2,500kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 12.0 metres
  • Warranty: 3 Year / 100,000km
  • Weight: 1,676kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 16 x 6.5”

Vehicle Pricing:

  • Tiguan 125TSI Manual $33,990
  • Tiguan 125TSI Automatic $36,290
  • Tiguan 103TDI Manual $35,990
  • Tiguan 103TDI Automatic $38,290
  • Tiguan 147TSI Automatic $42,990

Option Pricing:

  • Metallic Paint $790
  • Sunroof $1,990
  • RNS510 & RVC $3,490 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • RNS510 & RVC $2,990 (147TSI)
  • RNS510, RVC & Dynaudio $4,780 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • RNS510, RVC & Dynaudio $4,280 (147TSI)
  • Six CD Player $790
  • Dynaudio $1,790 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • Dynaudio $1,290 (147TSI)
  • Park Assist $1,390 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • Park Assist $890 (147TSI)
  • Bi-Xenon Headlamps $1,990
  • Alarm System $590
  • Leather Trim $3,990 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • Leather Trim $3,690 (147TSI)
  • Front Fog Lamps $390 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • 18" Alloy Wheels $2,290 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • 18" Alloy Wheels $1,490 (147TSI)
  • Comfort Package $990 (125TSI & 103TDI)
  • Off Road Package $290