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"It's not a shitter?"
The communications boss for Volkswagen Australia is standing next to a just-parked Tiguan Allspace – one of a handful in the country – on the set of The Block in Melbourne.
It's a rhetorical question, of course, because there aren't any bad cars based on Volkswagen Group's MQB chassis, let alone, ahem, shitters.
Based on a quick spin around the streets of St Kilda, Melbourne, that near-perfect record hasn't been tarnished. As the name suggests, the Tiguan Allspace is just a Tiguan with more room inside. It's 215mm longer than the five-seat model, with a 109mm longer wheelbase to free up space for two 'occasional use' seats in the boot.
Volkswagen calls the car a 5+2 rival to the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, not to mention the Peugeot 5008, Mitsubishi Outlander and Skoda Kodiaq. Like the entire SUV category, it's a growing spot in the market, and one VW is tapping in search of 1250 monthly Tiguan sales.
There are a few visual changes, albeit subtle ones. The front-end is a bit taller, there are silver mirror caps and unique badges, along with full-LED headlights usually reserved for high-spec five-seaters.
You'll notice a sliding 40/20/40 rear bench inside, along with the two seats in the boot. Rear leg room is good enough for me, a 6ft 7in lank, to sit behind a six-footer without too much trouble, and head room is excellent in the second row. There are flip-up tray tables, twin seat-back pockets, air vents and massive door pockets back there, too.
Although they're usable for children or (very) short-legged adults, the third-row seats are still a part-time proposition. This isn't designed for families who are always carting seven people. It's aimed at parents who want the flexibility of seven seats in a relatively compact package, just in case the kids from next door need a ride to cricket training.
Boot space is usable (260L) with the third row in place, and positively capacious (700L) when they're folded away. Volkswagen has taken the liberty of fitting a small torch to the boot of the entire Allspace range – one of a few thoughtful touches designed to make life easier for harried parents.
Transitioning rapidly to the driver's seat, there's the same high-tech cockpit featured on the top-grade variants of the regular five-seat Tiguan. The centre console is home to the latest 9.2-inch infotainment system, complete with gesture control and smartphone mirroring.
Our 162TSI R-Line tester also featured the Volkswagen Active Information Display, which is easy to read on the move and offers all the personalisation options you could ever ask for. In other words? It's a Tiguan inside, too.
In keeping with the theme, the Allspace is just like a regular Tiguan to drive. The 162kW four-cylinder engine in our 162TSI is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the combination is just as punchy as you'd expect.
With 350Nm on tap, you're never wanting for in-gear shove, and our brief drive suggested it should stand up fine with all seven seats filled. Stay tuned for more on that when the car arrives in June, by the way.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Allspace suffers from some typical dual-clutch hesitation at low speed. It doesn't happen all the time, and there's no set formula for reproducing the problem, but occasionally you'll be left waiting for power as the gearbox gets its house in order. Annoying while pulling away from a set of traffic lights, but potentially dangerous if you're trying to duck into a gap in traffic.
The most noticeable change from five to seven seats is the ride quality. With a longer wheelbase, the Allspace feels a bit more settled than the five-seat Tiguan, with less of a hard edge over small imperfections.
If you're after a sportier ride from your SUV – why would you be? – our tester was fitted with adaptive dampers, with options ranging from Comfort to Sport. The different modes do what they promise: Comfort is, er, comfortable, and Sport is firmer.
The ride is surprisingly good for a car riding on 20-inch wheels, although we'll have to venture a bit further from St Kilda for a final judgement.
Pricing for the Tiguan Allspace hasn't been finalised, but expect to pay a small ($3000 or $4000) premium over the equivalent Tiguan when the car lands in June.
That would position the entry-level 110TSI Comfortline at around $39,990 and push the range-topping 140TDI Highline beyond $50,000.
Volkswagen is chasing the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe – one the brand's product manager openly told us as much – with the Allspace.
Oh, and just to erase any doubt, it isn't a shitter.