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Changes to the 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan are hard to decipher from the previous model, given most of the tweaks were under the skin.
There is one surefire way to inject some extra cosmetic appeal into a ‘new’ model, though, and that’s by adding a sporty trim grade. VW has done just that with the 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan 155TSI R-Line.
The question of whether it’s worth spending almost 45 grand to get behind the wheel of the most expensive Tiguan rather than one of the other, more affordable models in the range is a good one. We’ll try to answer that question here.
Pricing for the Tiguan range (in AWD guise) starts at $36,990 for the 132TSI, steps up to $39,990 for the 130TDI and rounds out with this 155TSI R-Line at $44,990. The price-leading 2WD Tiguan 118TSI is available from $28,990. All figures listed here exclude on-road and dealer costs.
Now, let’s take a look at the new top-end Tiguan, which has plenty of swag to match its higher price point. The exterior sports styling package is the most obvious enhancement and it includes front and rear bumper accents, side skirts, R-Line badging and all-new 18-inch alloy wheels.
Viewed from the outside, the Tiguan R-Line definitely looks like a premium product. Certainly sporty as it needs to be, but very much premium, and if you’re asking customers to spend nearly 50 grand, that premium feel and style needs to be a given.
Inside, the Tiguan R-Line gets more appealing leather trim complete with R-Line embossing for the front seats, electric adjustment for the driver and a darker roof lining, which adds a touch of understated class when you’re behind the wheel.
Buyers get the typical functionality you expect from Volkswagen, but with some added flair to match the R-Line badging. Satellite navigation is standard, along with the 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice control. Adaptive traffic control is included as well as a tyre pressure monitor system, rain sensing wipers, flat-bottomed steering wheel, reverse-view camera, rear parking sensors and a driver fatigue detection system.
There’s never been anything wrong with Volkswagen’s tech and connectivity, but the Tiguan certainly doesn’t feel as premium or up-to-the-minute as some of the competitive set. The Bluetooth phone system connects easily and the connection remains reliable. Bluetooth audio streaming also works without glitches. I’ve always thought the general operation of the radio in the VW system is more difficult than it needs to be. The positioning of the major controls makes sense, though, and they are easy to work out.
With dimensions unchanged, the Tiguan remains tight on space. Buyers with oversized prams, two children, mountains of sports gear or general heft they need to transport will need to consider the Tiguan carefully to ensure it can meet their needs. The second row seating can also be tight if you have long legged occupants up front.
Under the bonnet there’s a willing 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which generates 155kW of power and 280Nm of torque. Peak power comes in at 5300rpm, while the chunky peak torque figure is available at a scant 1700rpm. We sound like broken records, but peak torque so low in the rev range makes for an effortless and rapid daily driver in the cut and thrust of city traffic. It means the driver never feels like they need to work the engine too hard to get moving swiftly.
The ADR combined fuel usage figure is 8.8L/100km, which is identical to the less powerful 132TSI model despite offering more gutsy performance. The seven-speed DSG is standard and with a claimed fuel figure inside double figures, VW is mounting a fair case that you can have your cake and eat it too.
Our real world test figure over the week – and more than 200 kilometres of driving — came back as an indicated 11.0L/100km. It’s not as close to the claimed figure as we’d have liked but it did encompass a fairly spirited country drive and plenty of heavy traffic as well. We think the 11.0L/100km return is pretty close to what the average owner will get – certainly if they live in or near any of the major cities. If you do a lot of freeway driving between stops, though, you can expect that fuel usage figure to drop significantly.
The Tiguan R-Line scoots from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds, which isn’t sizzling but is fast enough to put a smile on your face – especially in small SUV terms.
Running around town, the Tiguan is certainly an enjoyable vehicle to drive, darting into gaps in traffic is easy, and the Tiguan is nimble enough that the experience never feels like a chore.
A key feature of any ‘sports’ model should be properly sporty handling and the Tiguan R-Line has been uprated to achieve that aim. VW’s adaptive suspension is standard and features adjustable dampers. Three modes allow the driver to ‘tune’ the system to best suit their bias, with ‘Normal’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ available. While the selectable system works well, I opted for Comfort mode over most of the duration of my test. You’ll be well versed to access Sport if you head out of town for a country run and want to have a bit of fun though.
It needs to be reiterated that there wasn’t really anything wrong with the Tiguan's dynamics to start with, so don’t assume the suspension tweaks have been made to address any glaring issues.
The Tiguan R-Line – already featuring sharp steering across the range – is incrementally improved by the XDL electronic front differential lock, which ensures power gets smoothly to the tarmac as efficiently as possible. It wasn’t wet during our test period, but slick roads would surely illustrate the benefits.
Don’t assume the Tiguan R-Line is a jacked up Golf when you hit the open road though. Its higher ride height and more top-heavy overall design has an impact, and while it’s now closer to the Golf in terms of outright driving dynamics, it still doesn’t deliver that all-round balance the Golf seems to have a mortgage on.
The electronic front differential does offer a traction improvement, especially when you’re on the power out of corners, and the adaptive dampers firm up the overall body control through back-to-back bends where the road surface is bumpy. You’ll only notice these improvements though if you’re enjoying a spirited drive, something most Tiguan owners won’t do often.
Poor road surfaces don’t result in the sense of composure being disrupted in the cabin either. The R-Line variant is firmer than its siblings, a factor you’ll need to be aware of if you’re comparing one Tiguan against the other, but it’s never uncomfortable. I thought the bump absorption was a strong compromise between comfort and sporty handling.
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes with a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, with roadside assistance included for the three year period as well. Servicing costs up to 90,000km or 72 months are as follows:
15,000km or 12 months $458.00
30,000km or 24 months $458.00
45,000km or 36 months $535.00
60,000km or 48 months $1033.00
75,000km or 60 months $458.00
90,000km or 72 months $535.00
Additional items that will need to be replaced but are not included in the quoted capped price service list are the pollen filter ($56.00 every two years), brake fluid ($138.00 every two years) and the Haldex fluid change ($118.00 every three years).
The Tiguan remains an impressive SUV when you’re behind the wheel, and this 155TSI R-Line model is the most potent of the range. It adds some panache to the ageing SUV that will undoubtedly draw in some buyers who wish they could have a hot-hatch but need something marginally more practical.
It is considerably more expensive than the other AWD models, though, and while in theory it could be considered the most appealing variant in the Tiguan range, the upgraded 130TDI still positions itself to us as the pick of the range.
The 2.0-litre turbo diesel four cylinder pumps out 130kW of power at 4200rpm and 380Nm of torque between 1750-2500rpm with an ADR fuel claim of 6.2L/100km. With pricing starting from $38,990 plus on road costs, that model variant makes a compelling argument for Tiguan buyers.