Updated with new equipment, the Volkswagen Tiguan remains a competitive entry in the compact SUV segment - albeit with some caveats.
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan may look no different to look at from the outside, but it’s what has been added to this compact SUV that counts.
The latest Tiguan update sees the inclusion of a range of standard items that were previously either expensive options on cheaper models, including a 6.5-inch touchscreen media system with integrated reverse-view camera.
It also sees the range overhauled, with a more powerful diesel engine added to the ranks and a sporty new R-Line range-topping model. The good news for buyers is that while equipment levels have gone up, prices have only risen slightly. Read our full pricing and specifications story here.
That new infotainment unit is the chief change inside the cabin of the Tiguan, which has otherwise been left largely untouched since its debut in 2008 (it was spruced in 2011 as part of a mid-life update).
The system is a simple one to use, with neatly placed buttons and easy menu systems. Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is standard, and during our test it operated simply and smoothly.
However, as mentioned, the interior – while undeniably well put together and of high quality – isn’t as aesthetically appealing as some newer rival offerings, and those double front air-vents also lack some adjustability.
As has always been the case with the current-generation Tiguan, rear seat space is above average, with a good seating position and excellent head, leg and toe room (aided by 60:40 split-fold seats slide fore and aft). The rear seats are also aided by a set of flip-down tables for younger occupants (in all but the base model).
However, the current Tiguan has never been at the top of the class in terms of boot space, and nothing has changed in that regard. The cargo hold is capable of taking 395 litres of luggage – just 15L more than a Golf hatch and well down on similarly-sized SUVs such as the Honda CR-V (556L) or Toyota RAV4 (577L) – and that could be a major factor if you have small children with prams/strollers or lots of toys. A space-saver spare hides beneath the boot floor.
Storage elsewhere is decent, with large door storage sections up front including big bottle holders, and logically-placed stowage points in the front including twin cup-holders and covered centre console, and there are two under-seat drawers in all but the 118TSI model. Rear seat occupants have small, slim door compartments and twin backseat map pockets (not in 118TSI).
At the launch of the 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan we first drove the newly introduced 130TDI model, which sees a big power bump over the 103TDI model it replaces.
Power is up 27kW (as the name suggests) and hits at 4200rpm, while peak torque rises from 320Nm to 380Nm and spans between 1750-2500rpm. Despite the increase in grunt, the new model is slightly more efficient than the car it replaces, with fuel consumption rated at 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres (was 6.4L/100km for the 103TDI DSG model).
Helping keep the fuel use down is the engine’s stop-start system, and it also has gearshift recommendations (for when you’re in manual mode), brake energy recuperation and a coasting function for downhill stretches off-throttle.
The engine certainly feels all the better for the extra grunt, providing generous low-rev urge despite some turbo lag from a standing start. It idles along nicely at highway speeds, and unlike some other diesels in this class it isn’t annoying grumbly.
The turbo lag is exacerbated somewhat by the standard seven-speed dual-clutch auto, which can be hesitant to get away from the line.
The road manners of the Tiguan have always been among the best in the business, and that remains the case for the 2015 iteration given there have been no changes.
The steering is direct and lively; light and easy to use around town, and more hefty and involving as speeds rise.
The ride, too, is very good, cosseting occupants over hard bumps and potholes, and dealing well with smaller inconsistencies at lower speeds, too.
Getting out of the diesel we hopped in the new range-topping 155TSI R-Line model, which gains a raft of new items to give it some sporty style and substance.
The new gear includes an exterior sports styling package with front and rear bumper accents, side skirts, R-Line badges and new-look 18-inch alloys.
Helping it live up to its sporty identity is standard adaptive chassis control (adjustable dampers) with three modes – normal, comfort and sport – which Volkswagen says was added to aid ride comfort on Australia’s patchy roads.
Indeed, the level of comfort offered by the lowered sports suspension is exceptional, even on rutted, pockmarked country back roads – though sport mode is best left for smooth surfaces, and comfort could make the rear-end feel a little spongy.
The Tiguan’s already impressive steering is further enhanced by the XDL electronic differential that helps in apportioning power to the front wheels to assist in faster progress.
However, the body roll we experienced through a series of sweeping curves was more exaggerated than expected, and our test vehicle also exhibited plenty of rack rattle over mid-corner bumps.
We also found the brakes could be a little spongy.
Its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine remains unaltered, with 155kW of power at 5300rpm while peak torque of 280Nm comes at 1700rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 8.8L/100km, identical to the less powerful 132TSI version.
The engine isn’t woofy as it once seemed, but remains a smooth runner with good acceleration from a rolling start and a willingness to rev hard – and at higher revs is where it performs at its best.
Its standard six-speed DSG again exhibits some low-speed hesitancy, but its shifts are otherwise smooth and quick.
We had a chance to sample the Tiguan’s all-wheel-drive system over some loose surfaces and found it to be capable but not class leading.
Traction out of corners was adequate, though it could feel skittish at speed over surface changes and on more than one occasion the electronic stability control was called upon to help pull things back into line (more due to the car’s Bridgestone Dueler 235mm, 50-aspect 18-inch tyres than any mechanical shortcoming).
Inside, the Tiguan R-Line gains a range of upgrades such as leather trim (with R-Line embossing on the front seats) and electric driver’s seat adjustment, while the dark roof lining adds a little bit of class.
When it comes to ownership, Volkswagen offers a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and three years of roadside assistance – down considerably on some rivals, such as the Kia Sportage (now with seven-year warranty and roadside assist).
However, it makes back some ground in terms of servicing, with a six-year/90,000km program that requires visits every 12 months or 15,000km. The average yearly cost ranges between $503 for the 130TDI and $580 for the 155TSI.
While the 2015 update to the Tiguan is a welcome one, it’s a car that is starting to show its age inside the cabin, and can’t match many competitors for boot space.
However, in terms of road manners and engine refinement it remains one of the better SUVs in small-to-mid-sized segment of the market.