Dave gets his hands on the larger, second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, and the 'haters' might not be happy with what he thinks...
With the arrival of the larger, second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, two things happened: the first-generation's small-SUV rivals shared a combined sigh of relief as the model grew itself out of the segment, and those competing in the medium SUV segment got worried. And if they're not worried, they probably should be.
For some reason, Volkswagen reviews – more than just about any others – seem to attract more than their fair share of ‘haters’. And, while we love seeing readers engage with our content, these people tend to fire up more when the review is positive. Well, heads up to the haters, this is going to be fairly positive…
As Matt Campbell outlined in his September 2016 launch review, the all-new 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan range comprises seven models, split across five trim grades, with prices starting at $31,990 (before on-road costs) and topping out at $49,990 (before on-roads). If you’re yet to spot a top-spec petrol-powered 162TSI Highline on the road, that’s because they’re not due to arrive until early next year.
Finished in Pure White, tested here we have the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 110TDI Comfortline.
Exclusively available with a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission and Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel-drive system, the 110TDI Comfortline is priced from $42,990 (before on-road costs).
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder making 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 340Nm of torque between 1750-3000rpm, the entry-level diesel model claims 5.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
If you want more oomph from your oiler, you’ve got to step up to the flagship 140TDI Highline, which sends 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque to its four wheels – while still claiming an identical 5.9L/100km.
Approach the new ‘Tiggy’ and it’s immediately clear things have grown from the first-generation’s small-SUV proportions.
Measuring 60mm longer and 30mm wider, the second-gen Tiguan rides on a 76mm larger wheelbase. Despite this overall increase in stature, it’s actually the old car that’s 28mm taller than its successor.
Needing to come out swinging against the segment sales leader, the Mazda CX-5 – not to mention the top-selling Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, and Subaru Forester – the all-new Tiguan had to be well equipped if it wanted to play ball.
Luckily for Volkswagen, standard equipment on all Comfortline-grade Tiguans includes automatic halogen headlights and halogen daytime running lights, front fog lights, LED tail lights, 17-inch ‘Tulsa’ alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control with speed limiter, three-zone climate control, an eight-speaker stereo, and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
A lack of keyless entry, push-button start, and rear privacy glass do stand out as odd omissions, however, the Tiguan wins back favour with its standard inclusion of seven airbags, city emergency braking, lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, semi-automatic parking, electric parking brake with auto-hold function, rear-view camera, driver fatigue detection system, low tyre-pressure indicator, space-saver spare wheel, and Volkswagen’s driving profile selector – the latter offering driver’s a choice of on- and off-road settings to suit various conditions and preferences.
Rounding out the equipment list are chrome roof rails, handy fold-out plastic tables for rear-seat passengers, two rubber-lined roof-mounted storage consoles, felt-bottomed under-seat storage drawers for both front seats, carpet floor mats, and a cargo net for the boot.
Opt for a Comfortline Tiguan and you do miss out on the Highline’s keyless entry, LED headlights with dynamic cornering function, heated ‘comfort sport’ front seats, leather- appointed upholstery, power driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, voice command recognition, power tailgate, rear privacy glass, and 18-inch alloy wheels. There are, however, options.
Fitted to our 110TDI tester, for example, is the German car maker’s $2250 ‘Driver Assistance Package’, comprising adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, an around-view camera, power-folding wing mirrors, and a customisable 12.3-inch TFT instrument display screen, dubbed the ‘Active Info Display’ – also known as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
If you’re hungry for more gear, there’s a $5000 ‘Luxury Package’ that adds a good chunk of the Highline’s swag, including keyless entry, Vienna leather-appointed upholstery, a power driver’s seat with three memory positions, heated front seats, power-folding wing mirrors, a power tailgate, and a panoramic electric glass sunroof.
With all of that out of the way, what’s the new Tiguan actually like?
Well, starting in the front, initial impressions are promising – as we’d expect from the newest arrival to the segment.
A half soft-touch dash top is joined by more soft-touch trim on the door tops, along with brushed aluminium-look inserts, gloss-black trim accents, and brushed aluminium door handles.
There are cloth door-trim inserts and high-quality door grips, before scratchier, harder-wearing plastics dominate lower sections of the doors and dash, and flow into the flanks of the centre stack and transmission tunnel. Comfortable and supportive, the firmly padded cloth seats aren’t overly bucketed, but they are nicely bolstered. And although their manual adjustment might irk some, there is a lever to individually adjust lumbar support.
Both front seat belts are height adjustable, the reach- and rake-adjustable multi-function steering wheel feels lovely in the hands, and Volkswagen’s indicator and wiper stalks engineer deserves more pats on the back, because, as usual, they are beautifully damped – and if that sounds silly, think how many times you use them every drive.
All four power windows are not only auto up/down, pleasingly, all four also go all the way down. And while we’ve already highlighted some of the new Tiguan’s clever storage, additionally, there are massive felt-lined door pockets (that can ingest two-litre bottles of milk), cubbies and shelves, a handy passenger-side netted pocket, a small-ish sized rubber-bottomed centre console bin, a 12-volt outlet and AUX and USB inputs, and a small but chilled glovebox (home to a CD player and SD-card slot).
In a departure from Volkswagen’s usually strong build quality, the large retractable lid able to hide or reveal space for two cups behind the gear lever, is flimsy and cheap-feeling. No excuses, it’s average, but it’s also admittedly out of character for the brand.
Much more like it are the nicely-damped driving profile selector rotary dial, and responsive, intuitive, and easy to use and learn central touchscreen – the latter able to present numerous ‘helpful’ displays including steering angle, a compass, and an altimeter, performance metrics such as boost pressure, g-force, and kilowatts, plus, even a lap timer (no joke).
Being a family car, what’s going on in the back seats can be just as important, if not more, as what’s happening up front. Here again though, the all-new Tiguan has most areas covered.
There are nice, big, rear-door apertures to make access easy, huge amounts of rear head-room, loads of rear leg-room, and, prior to feet meeting the under-seat ventilation outlets, plenty of toe-room.
With individual seat rails for each side of the 60:40 split-fold rear bench, plus adjustable backrests that can be locked down into a fixed, flat, position, the Tiguan’s rear-seat comfort is only matched by its rear-seat flexibility.
That said, it’s not perfect, with overall seating capacity, comfort, and practicality somewhat restricted by the SUV’s not-insignificant rear floor hump taking up whatever middle-seat leg-room may have been available.
The rear door pockets are large, plus, apart from the aforementioned plastic trays with individual cup holders, each ISOFIX-compatible outboard rear seat has an additional small plastic cut-out located down near its seat base. On top of this, those finding themselves in the back of the new Tiguan are kept happy with two grab handles, four coat hooks, two map pockets, a fold-down centre armrest with a rubberised cup-holder cut-out, rear air vents with temperature controls, and a 12-volt outlet. In another odd slip, however, there are no rear USB inputs, which, with kids on board, would no doubt have proved helpful.
If you do need to drop the rear seats flat, you can choose to do this via clever boot-mounted releases or fabric, seat base-mounted pull tabs – the latter admittedly feeling short of ‘premium’ in their construction.
Try to open the boot by pushing the rear ‘VW’ badge and you’ll be left with a sore thumb or hand. Locate the soft-touch rubber boot release tucked under the tailgate lip, though, and, despite not being powered, the tailgate opens up easily enough.
A little heavy and springy to close, the tailgate opens nice and high, meaning even those above six-foot aren’t forced to duck for fear of being ‘sconned’.
Featuring a lower load lip and 220 litres more capacity than the first-generation Tiguan, the all-new second-generation car teams impressive load space – 615L seats up or 1655L seats down – with a two-level adjustable boot floor, two large, rear luggage hooks, and small compartments on either side of the main boot floor.
So far, so good then. But how does it drive?
Despite its larger proportions and open and spacious interior, the new Tiguan never feels overly ‘big’ on the road. Be it driving around town, or to the shops, or to and from school pick up, there’s not a lot to dislike about the Tiguan’s road manners.
Vision out is excellent, with A- and C-pillar cut outs, and wing mirrors big enough to help you see the world around you but not so big they block or impede vision.
Helped by the car’s taller 65-aspect, 215mm-wide Michelin Primacy 3 tyres, the new Tiguan’s ride is, overall, very impressive.
It’s not flawless, mind you, with Melbourne’s consistently-rutted tram line-infused roads able to challenge the car’s composure and the rear end tending to thump a little over speed humps – depending on their aggressiveness and your own. That said, things are nowhere near bad, they’re just not perfect.
Through some twistier stuff, there is some roll, but the Tiguan remains measured and composed, delivering no nasty or unpleasant surprises, and never feeling floaty or unsure.
Not everyone’s going to hassle a Tiguan the same way they would a sports car, but it’s good to know it’s capable and competent, which it is. Sure, push a 1647kg (tare) family SUV too quick through a corner and it’ll push a little wide, but a 110TDI Tiguan is no Golf GTI derivative.
Nicely balancing weight and feedback, the steering is a highlight, being neither unnecessarily heavy or ludicrously light or overly assisted, nor dull or devoid of feel.
Allowing for good levels of communication and engagement between car and driver, the system’s only slight oddity is found when executing a tight U-turn. At full-lock, the steering resistance changes, causing a mild kick-back in the hands.
Speaking of U-turn’s, the Tiguan’s 11.5-metre turning circle also okay but not brilliant – the current Mazda CX-5 listed at 11.2m, for example.
Similar to the steering, the brakes, paired to a consistent pedal, are natural and progressive in their feel, while still providing good stopping power and measured confidence-inspiring feedback.
The throttle, on the other hand, can be a little doughy and unresponsive in its normal driving mode. So, depending on your driving style, you may benefit from either being more decisive with throttle inputs or even flicking things into ‘Sport’ mode.
Bring stop-start and the dual-clutch gearbox into the mix and, again, depending on your mood, the combination will either not bother you and not hinder your experience much at all, or simply drive you spare.
Be patient and smooth and calm and the three of you – yourself, the gearbox, and the stop-start system – will get along just fine. Be short-tempered and impatient, though, and it’s best to leave stop-start off. That said, employing stop-start for the majority of our week with the car, we recorded an average fuel consumption figure of 7.5L/100km – 1.6L/100km up on the model’s claim.
Still imperfect and occasionally slow to react and respond, the DSG transmission, while teamed with smooth ratio changes, continues to suffer some hesitation during day-to-day manoeuvres – slowing down approaching, and throttling up exiting, a roundabout, for example.
Engine noise is well contained – provided you keep the windows up – however, while most outside noise is kept outside, road and wind noise do notably find their way inside.
Around town, the less powerful, less torquey 110TDI diesel engine is quite a good unit, although, there’s not a lot of pulling power below 2000rpm and you’ll do need to be up in its 2000-2500rpm sweet spot to get the best out of it.
Happy at a coast at around 1200-1500rpm, the largely flexible diesel powerplant pulls solidly from 2500rpm-3000rpm onwards until about 4000rpm. Try and hunt down 5000rpm, though – not that you’ll ever really need to – and you’ll quickly discover that most of the engine’s surge plateaued around 1000rpm earlier.
Go off the tarmac and onto some gravel backroads, like we did, and it gives you the opportunity to test out the new Tiguan’s off-road mode.
Turn the dial right and, while the Haldex-based 4MOTION system only brings the rear axle into play when “there is a risk of losing traction” – Volkswagen claiming that, “If necessary, nearly 100 per cent of the drive torque can be directed to the rear axle” – the off-road-specific mode also triggers the gearbox to upshift later, puts the hill ascent and descent systems on stand-by, and recalibrates the stability system for ‘off-road characteristics’.
In short, as sorted and competent as the new Tiguan is on road, it’s the same deal off-road. Now, obviously, we’re not saying traditional four-wheel-drive tracks – the territory of Jeep Wranglers, for example – is where the new ‘Tiggy’ will shine, but family trips just off the beaten path should be handled with ease.
Its largely high-quality ride is maintained, again thanks in part to those chunkier tyres, although, we did note a few rattles while going over more substantial ruts – not overly surprising but present all the same.
Whether your daily commute comprises tarmac or gravel or a little of both, the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty will please, as will the standard three years of road-side assist.
For the 110TDI, scheduled services are due every 15,000km or 12 months (whichever comes first), with capped-price services costing between $404.00 and $481.00 over the first three years or 45,000km. Add in additionally required items (such as a pollen filter and brake and Haldex fluid), and you’re looking at a total of $1643 for the first three years of ownership.
In the end, like it or not, the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 110TDI Comfortline is a hugely impressive package that should suit a large number of small-to-medium families while impressing other family and friends. And, if you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh great, another high score and positive review for a Volkswagen product,” I only have this to say: Haters ‘gonna’ hate.
The old Tiguan sold well but wasn’t all that brilliant. The new one though, offers plenty of storage, stacks of space, and drives well – be it to and from the shops, IKEA, or a family holiday, and whether on tarmac or gravel.
Arguably, at $42,990 (before on-road costs) the 110TDI Comfortline should have some features on board that it’s missing, but overall, the all-new Tiguan is a car I’d happily recommend family or friends take out for a drive. As I said at the start, if the Tiguan’s new medium SUV rivals aren’t worried, most of them should be…
Click on the Photos tab for more 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 110TDI Comfortline images by Tom Fraser.