2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI Automatic Review

$8,700 $10,340 Dealer
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  • Engine Power
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2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI Automatic Review & Road Test

Tiguan demonstrates just how good a modern SUV can be

Model Tested:

  • 2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI 4MOTION wagon 2.0-litre turbo diesel six-speed automatic - $38,290 (RRP)

Options Fitted:

  • Metallic Paint $790; Audio System Upgrade (DynAudio) with Satellite Navigation & Reversing Camera $4780; Xenon Headlamps $1990; Leather Trim $3990; Front Fog Lamps $390; 17” Alloy Wheels $1490

Willing Engine, Smooth Auto, Quality Feel & Finish, Good Looks Waiting List, Smaller Cargo Capacity, Steering Wheel Adjustment

CarAdvice Rating:

- by Matt Brogan

It’s been a few months since we first had the exciting new Tiguan visit the CarAdvice office and although we were highly impressed last time, we couldn’t help but wonder if driving the more sought after automatic model would change our opinion of VWs marvelous mid-sized SUV.

In the blue corner, weighing in at 1676kg we have the 103TDI (103 kilowatt, turbo-diesel injection, automatic gearbox) variant which has had just about every box ticked on the feature list, thus giving us an idea of how sweet owning a diesel soft-roader can be. While in the red corner we have the entry-level manual model as tested previously (click here for manual review).

Catalina Blue / Wild Cherry Red

Fortunately the days where owning a smaller SUV meant a basic, bone jolting ride with rattling, smoky engine and little or no creature comforts are long gone and with Tiguan demonstrating just how good a modern compact SUV can be, it's little wonder we're back for more.

In addition to the standard kit of MP3 compatible CD tuner, power windows, heated power mirrors, semi-automatic air-conditioning, power steering, remote central-locking, cruise control, leather steering wheel with remote audio and cruise controls, trip computer, cloth trim, 16-inch San Francisco alloy wheels, black roof rails, and a cargo area cover Tiguan can also be rather highly optioned – just like our test car.

Featuring satellite navigation with 16:9 (800 x 480 pixel) 6.5" colour screen and 30GB hard drive, DynAudio 300W premium six-CD tuner, self parking system, reversing sensors and camera with park assist guidance, leather electrically adjustable heated seats, bi-xenon self leveling and cornering headlamps, low tyre pressure warning indicator, climate control air-conditioning, automatic wipers, dusk sensing headlamps, 17-inch Boston alloy wheels (18-inch New York alloys also available), auto dimming mirror, fog lamps and anti-theft alarm, the only omission from our little blue beast is the glass electric tilt and slide sunroof.

The touch screen RNS510 audio and navigation system features 3D mapping and is by far the most user-friendly system on the market. Not only is it simple to set up and use but is also easy to understand visually, a great tool for those who often find themselves geographically embarrassed.

The self parking system takes but a few tries to master and can complete both angle and parrellel parks with a few touches of the screen and a light prod of the throttle, the rest (steering and braking) is managed automatically. Having recently sampled a similar system in the Lexus LS460 I must say this system is far easier to use and far better at getting the park right first time.

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Under the bonnet the 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel, four-cylinder makes 103kW at 4000rpm and offers a usable 320Nm from just 1750 revs, and although the figures are exactly the same as those of those in its manual twin, the automatic gearbox seems to make Tiguan feel heavier and slightly slower to respond - until you select Sportmode.

With the selector rearward one more click the whole car feels revitalised, more alive and lighter on its feet. Throttle response is sharper, gear selection more appropriate (for city or performance driving) and is a real chalk and cheese contrast over the economy biased Drive setting.

Fuel economy is a touch higher than the manual, which is to be expected really, but in saying that mid 9.0L/100km are easily achievable around town with highway runs dipping in to the low 5.0L/100km. This all means meeting the ADR result of 7.5 litres per 100km was not a hard task.

It may at first seem a big gap between the two cycles (city/highway), and the fuel bill will reflect this, but given the torque on hand and the flexibility of this dynamic little engine, much will come back to how you control your right foot.

The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is seamless in transfer between the driven wheels and offers competent grip through twisty wet corners. Even a little ice was managed with confidence.

Coupled with the AutoHold feature, part of Tiguan’s automated park brake, there is no unwanted rolling back (or forward) from standstill which is perfect when parking on an incline.

Cabin décor is well composed, stylish yet reserved and the ambiance reflects this attitude well in being quiet, refined and comfortable. The contemporary feel won’t date in a hurry and with the possible exception of the steering wheel position (doesn’t tilt low enough) it’s a very well proportioned, well utilised and rewarding space.

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The cargo area is noticeably smaller than Tiguan’s rivals but still offers a 60/40 split fold rear seat and cargo basement where the spare wheel cradle is removed to make use of the under floor area – very handy when the need arises.

With roof rails and optional tow hitch further expanding the carrying capacity (and a neat array of recreational roof racks available for bikes, canoes, skis, etc) the performance from this little oiler is not even slightly bothered by lugging five life-sized motoring journalists around, so I can't see there being much loss of pep when loaded to the rafters.

A safe little number, Tiguan comes standard with the expected modern electronic aids to keep you from harm including ABS, EBA, EBD, ESP and Traction Control, as well as front, side and curtain airbags should the worst happen, all of which afford it a Five Star EuroNCAP rating.

For an exceptional balance of size, safety, performance, comfort and economy the Tiguan really does make a good argument against compromise. With the added flexibility of building the car to specification - instead of being dictated by model grade - you can have as few or as many options as suit your needs and budget. Not hard to see why then the queue for Tiguan grows longer by the day.

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


  • Engine: 1968cc turbo-diesel four-cylinder
  • Power: 103kW @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 320Nm @ 1750rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • 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: 7.5 litres / 100km (Combined)
  • Safety: ESP; TCS; Front, Side & Curtain Airbags
  • NCAP: Five-star
  • Spare Wheel: Space Saver
  • Towing Capacity: 2500kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 12.0 metres
  • Warranty: 3 Year/100,000km
  • Weight: 1676kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 16 x 6.5” (Standard)