I slide into the dark coloured Volkswagen Tiguan under a cobalt blue sky and head as quickly as possible out of Sydney, doing my best to avoid the never-ending snake-like peak hour traffic rolling ever forward at the mind boggling speed of 12km/hour.
It pays to have a comfortable car in Sydney and I’m thankful the Tiguan is just that, with a sturdy sports-esque manually adjusted cloth seat that has just the right amount of support. To the left, the centre console bin has a ratcheted lid than can be lifted to any position, making for an extremely comfortable armrest.
My destination, Bawley Point on the south coast and my companion, just me and the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline.
I’ve spent most of the morning packing the car with all manner of camping gear: Two surfboards, a swag, tent, table, chairs, camp stove, Esky, camera gear and fishing equipment.
It’s quite a bit to fit into a medium SUV but the boot space is impressive once the rear seats are folded down. VW claims a figure of 1655 litres, to be exact. The surfboards (the longest a six-footer) fit nicely, diagonally.
In the end, I had plenty more available space and could have quite easily flooded the back of the car with even more equipment. Instead, I focused on packing what most families would need for a few days away.
Medium-sized SUVs like the Tiguan have found popularity due to their versatility. It sits in a perfect pocket. Not too big, yet not too small. But, if you added children to the mix, the first things I would purchase would be roof racks at a minimum, and perhaps a storage pod if I was going to use it for regular trips away with the family.
Overall, the dash layout and instrumentation is magnificent and much better than the previous Tiguan. Everything is easy to read and there is enough storage; although, be wary of putting your wallet in the compartment mounted atop the dashboard on a hot summer’s day, unless you actually enjoy dealing with banks. It’s more than likely your bank cards will melt and you’ll find them gobbled up by the abyss of the nearest ATM machine.
The only other issue is that there are no USB plugs in the rear, which means recharging the kids’ iPads could test even the best parents’ negotiating skills.
After about half a decent album played through the excellent eight-speaker sound system, Sydney’s packed streets start freeing up. I head through Heathcote and left onto the Princes Highway heading south.
It was here I could really get up to speed and see what the turbocharged four-cylinder engine was capable of. I can say, it’s quite an impressive and spritely unit.
Acceleration isn’t bad but can feel a little doughy when you aren’t getting stuck into the throttle, particularly up hills where the car seems to simply amble along with not much purpose. While part of this is the engine management system conserving fuel, you can slip into sports mode and everything seems a little crisper.
The car will still get up to speed very easily on flat roads and when you are more forceful with the throttle. It is quite the family car, yet it feels sporty and is powerful enough to keep the average owner more than happy.
The steering is light and efficient with the car bedding into turns comfortably. The cruise control is also easy to use with small 1km/h adjustments available or larger 10km/h increments.
My trip involved much more open road than suburban or city kilometres and, at the end of my trip of 742km, I topped the Tiguan up back to full with 56.86 litres. This gave me a fuel consumption figure of 7.6 km/100 kilometres, which is awfully close to the manufacturer’s stated claim of 7.5L/100km.
On the road, the all-wheel drive grips securely while the suspension setup errs more on the side of stiff and sporty than soft and cloud-like. This was most evident when I left the tarmac and hit the dirt roads heading out to Meroo just before Bawley Point.
There are several settings to choose from. I switched from the setting optimising for road driving to off-road (there are also and ice and a custom setting which I didn’t attempt). I personally couldn’t notice a huge difference and, when the dirt is flat, the car performs admirably.
Once the going gets a little tougher, that hard suspension setting, while perhaps a little softer than in highway mode, is still harsh enough to feel every bump and pothole. I doubt most users will challenge the car too greatly, though.
It was only a short 15-minute drive after checking out the camp grounds at Meroo until I was at Bawley Point and pulling into the Merry Beach Caravan Resort and guided to an absolute beachfront site well away from other users.
I unpacked the vehicle and set about getting the tent ready before the sun started setting to the west and darkness descended. It seemed an odd juxtaposition, having one of the most well-executed family SUVs, more likely to be seen in the urban jungle, parked alongside one of the prettiest beaches on the south coast but at the same time it also seemed right at home.
If I was in the market for a vehicle of this size, it would definitely fit my lifestyle with a manageable size and poise perfectly matched with space and comfort.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Dom Wiseman.
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