Sales of seven-seat SUVs are growing steadily, so it’s high time Volkswagen came to the party. Its solution is to offer a stretched version of the familiar Tiguan, called the Allspace, developed concurrently with its smaller sibling upon a shared architecture.
We’ve just attended the Australian launch event and spent a few hours working our way through the range. Rest assured we’ll be bringing you more in-depth comparative content with the VW pitted against major rivals soon, but this should serve as a starting point to your research.
At 4701mm long, the Mexico-made Tiguan Allspace is 215mm longer than the ‘regular’ German-built Tiguan, while its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) is 2790mm, up 109mm. This gave its engineers scope to stuff a third row of seats into the cabin.
These dimensions mean the VW is - unsurprisingly - the same size as its Skoda Kodiaq twin, and about on par with the Mitsubishi Outlander. And though it’s 70mm shorter overall than the brand new Hyundai Santa Fe, its wheelbase is 25mm longer, and equal with a Toyota Kluger’s.
While it's recognisably a Tiguan, there’s a more upright bonnet design that gives the car a bluffer, more America-friendly look. VW’s designers did a decent job on the stretched side profile, though its proportions look a little ‘off’ with the base grade’s smaller alloy wheels. A Kodiaq, or the Hyundai, subjectively have more visual impact.
Reflecting the Allspace’s market importance, Volkswagen Australia is actually offering more variations of this model than it does of the ‘regular’ Tiguan. Unlike many rivals, there are all-wheel drive (AWD) versions with two different petrol and diesel engine options, as well as a front-wheel drive (FWD) petrol-fired price-leader.
Opening the range is said FWD 110TSI Comfortline with its 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine matched to a six-speed DSG automatic transmission, priced at $40,490 before on-road costs. That’s more than a Nissan X-Trail ST-L or Mitsubishi Outlander ES, but less than a Santa Fe Active.
It’s far from under-specified, with standard fare including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights (goodbye, yellow halogens), electric hands-free tailgate with a timer, keyless access, 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, three-zone climate control, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a reversing camera.
Beyond the five-star ANCAP crash rating, safety features include airbags for all three rows of seats, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works up to 250km/h, pedestrian detection, multi-collision brakes and lane assist. There are also parking sensors at either end, and AEB in reverse to stop car-park dingles.
This same Comfortline equipment grade can also be had with two 4Motion AWD drivetrains for buyers keen on the odd snow trip etc. The 132TSI (132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol) costs $45,490, $800 less than the 132TSI Kodiaq, and the 110TDI (110kW/340Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel) tips the scales at $46,990. Both use seven-speed DSGs.
Above this you have two Tiguan Allspace Highline grades, the $52,990 162TSI (162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol) and $54,490 140TDI (140kW/450Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel) models once again with AWD and seven-speed DSGs.
Extra equipment fitted to this pair includes 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, Emergency Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, adaptive dampers to offset the slimmer tyres, dynamic swivelling high-beam, electric memory seats, heated front and rear seats, leather seats, a 9.2 inch screen with naff gesture control, ambient LED cabin lights and LED tail lights.
Naturally, VW will encourage you to spend more with a plethora of juicy options packs, adding stuff like the Active Info Display digital dials and slick 20-inch alloy wheels. Read more about those here.
How does one make heads or tails of all these engine choices? The diesels use the least fuel (claimed 6L/100km), the 140TDI has the highest tow rating at 2500kg (with a 200kg down-ball rating), while the 162TSI with its old Golf GTI engine is the fastest, with a claimed 0-100km/h dash time of 6.8 seconds.
The sweet spot is the 132TSI, though, which has ample performance for the class with its 8.2 second 0-100km/h dash. Even the base 110TSI is quicker than its diminutive engine would suggest, given you get the full whack of torque (pulling power) from just off idle. We wouldn’t bother with diesel unless we planned regular countryside sojourns.
There aren’t many surprises with the first two rows of seats, which are just as well thought out as the existing Tiguan’s. The typical VW traits of thunking doors, flawless build quality, tactile surfaces and felt-lined door cubbies are there, for starters.
The infotainment on either grade is high end, though there’s no wireless smartphone pad, while cabin storage options include a good console, dashtop cubby and a trick flip-down cubby in the roof, which is there until you option the panoramic sunroof.
The back row of seats include rear vents and a USB point (plus a 12V socket), as well as aeroplane-style flip-up tables. The middle row slides 60:40 (to bring the baby seats closer to the front), with each side able to recline. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for anyone my height (194cm) or below, and LED lights.
The only downer is the fact the back doors don’t open at 90 degrees like a Honda CR-V’s, slightly inhibiting entry/egress. That’s clutching at straws.
Access to the third row comes via a single lever which slides and reclines either side of the bench. Like many rivals, seats six and seven really are best used for kids or for occasional adult use, maybe a short trip to the pub. It’s more capacious than the Honda or Nissan, but the likes of Toyota’s Kluger or Mazda’s CX-8/9 offer more space for big families. The third row seats are also quite upright and narrow.
More often than not, buyers will have this rearmost row of seats folded flat into the floor. Commendably, the cargo area (accessed by an electric tailgate that responds to a kicking gesture) can fit a golf bag width-ways behind the third row, and expands to 700L with the second row in use, which is greater than the Santa Fe, Sorento or Kluger. Impressive.
Moreover, there’s a spot under the cargo floor for the retracting cargo cover, positioned above the temporary spare wheel. There are also levers to flip down the middle seat row, and a Skoda-style torch embedded in the back of the car. It isn’t quite as clever as the Kodiaq perhaps, but it’s close.
To give some real-world context, the Allspace is big enough for a large mountain bike (with wheels attached) to fit, with the front seats in use.
Dynamically there are also few surprises. The Tiguan is typically quiet, with excellent tyre-roar and wind-noise insulation, and stable/planted at speed. The steering feel is a touch vague, but that hardly matters to most buyers, while the ride comfort on the 19/20-inch wheels only devolves into brittleness over the worst potholes, thanks to adjustable dampers within the springs.
There are various other modes built into the 4Motion AWD system that fettle the throttle response, transmission mapping and ESC tuning to favour slippery surfaces.
In a sentence, the Tiguan Allspace is quiet, refined and relatively compliant. The bigger wheels take the edge off slightly, but the car looks so much better with them. Easy choice…
The last piece of the puzzle is ownership costs. We’re not fans of Volkswagen’s three-year warranty (explained here), but we do like its low-interest finance plans and guaranteed buyback plans.
Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km, though as VW’s calculator will tell you, it’s a little pricier to maintain than a Santa Fe, or even the Kodiaq that shares its running gear (and which has a longer warranty): five services cost $2095 on the Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi, $2412 on the Kodiaq 140TDI, and $2795 on the Tiguan 140TDI. Not a heap more, but more nevertheless.
None of this stops the Tiguan Allspace range for being compelling.
If you’re on a tight budget then the Outlander or X-Trail are better bets, if you need maximum space then a Kia Sorento or Toyota Kluger await you, but the Volkswagen offers an unbeatable choice of drivetrains, above-average cabin quality and design, the brand’s typical premium feel and image, and a list of safety features as long as your arm.
Is it better than the equally well-regarded new Santa Fe, CX-8, Sorento or the Kodiaq, or perhaps even the Peugeot 5008 from the left-of-centre list? Maybe our big comparison text coming soon will answer that more effectively. For now, we’re happy to recommend the VW for your shortlist. Given its background, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.