Volkswagen’s cheapest Tiguan is back on the showroom floor. It’s called the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan 110TSI Trendline, and has a starting price of $34,490 or $35,990 drive-away as part of a current promotion.
The tipping-in point for the Tiguan used to be on the other side of $40,000, with the better specced and more powerful 132TSI Comfortline. Under that 40-large watermark, and much closer to $30,000, is a much more palatable starting point for this big and competitive segment, however.
Discounting the larger seven-seat Allspace variants, the Tiguan reaches up to $50,990 for the 162TSI Highline variant.
This Tiguan lines up nicely against some of the best-selling medium SUVs in the segment: Toyota RAV4 GX ($32,990), Mazda CX-5 Maxx ($32,880), Nissan X-Trail ST ($31,890) and Mitsubishi Outlander ES ADAS ($33,690).
Why the sales hiatus? The 110TSI was an unfortunate victim of the move to WLTP testing criteria in Europe, where Volkswagen was forced to make impermanent changes to its vehicle line-ups while accommodating the changed testing procedures.
Now it’s back, the Tiguan 110TSI does retain most of the same specifications it originally had. There’s a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, autonomous emergency braking and park assist.
The engine is the same, as well. It's 1.4 litres and four cylinders' worth of turbocharged petrol engine, which makes 110kW at 6000rpm and 250Nm from 1500–3500rpm. There’s no option for a manual gearbox anymore, it’s a six-speed automatic ‘DSG’ as your sole choice of transmission, going only to the front wheels.
The interior is clean, basic and uncluttered. The rudimentary air-conditioning controls hint to the base specification, but the new infotainment system looks very flash. It’s clean and well sized, responsive and easy to navigate. Bonus points for keeping two physical dials as part of the design. While it might not look as sleek as possible, it adds an extra degree to the ease of use, especially when driving.
The infotainment system is missing out on digital radio and native navigation, but you feel compelled to forgive it considering the quality of the system otherwise, compared to some of the more technologically and aesthetically dated competition.
Cloth, manual-adjustment seats don’t give you any warm-and-fuzzies, but they are comfortable and supportive in the right places, and have a decent range of adjustment. With tilt and rake on the steering wheel, you can get dialled in nicely for a long (or short) drive.
Speaking of the steering wheel, it’s something that Volkswagen hasn’t skimped on. Other common touchpoints like the door bins and gearstick feel nice and well made, going a long way to ensuring this Tiguan doesn't feel cheap. Rather, it feels nice and solid.
The second row has good space available. There’s enough for a big rearward-facing baby capsule behind the front passenger, and they won't have their knees ploughing into the dashboard. The second row slides fore and aft, if you’re looking for some extra storage space in the boot.
There's 615L of boot space (according to VDA testing), which puts the Tiguan right at the pointy end of other medium SUVs. Enough for me to fit in a big double pram, and also squeeze in some groceries.
Second-row occupants will appreciate the air vents in the rear, accompanied by a USB and 12V socket.
It’s perhaps a hard critique for a Tiguan considering the humid, low-40-degree ambient-temp conditions of the day, but I found the Tiguan’s air-conditioning system to be a little underwhelming when really put to task. Cranked up to the lowest temperature and highest fan speed, the system just scraped a pass mark in keeping the cabin comfortable on a recent Sydney stinker.
While more engine under the bonnet is generally a better thing for a vehicle, the 1.4-litre power plant in this Tiguan is more than up to the job of propelling 1499kg (that’s tare mass). While the numbers don’t give you heartburn at first glance, the fact that peak torque is available between 1500 and 3500rpm means you have a decent shove available at short notice, without any need to rev the car up to redline.
Those who want more herbs in their omelette can opt for the 2.0-litre engine with 132kW or 162kW. Without any premise of warm sports in the resume, the turbocharged 1.4-litre motor is enough for city runs and highway jaunts alike.
I saw an average figure as low as 7.0 litres per hundred kilometres on longer highway runs, but that settled to 7.8L/100km when we included some town driving. Compared to a claimed fuel economy of 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle, I’d say that’s pretty good.
The dual-clutch automatic transmission does have a slightly different nature to it, compared to a torque converter or constantly variable automatic transmission. Because it has a friction-plate clutch like a manual transmission, there can be some brief rollback on hills as the gearbox does its thing. Once you get used to it, it’s not really a problem. While not outright smooth like other automatic gearboxes, it’s smooth enough and makes smart decisions when on the move.
The ride is one of good balance and intentions: 17-inch wheels yield a mostly smooth and controlled experience, which doesn’t fade into crashiness unless you hit something too big, too fast. It’s not cushy like a Citroen C5 Aircross, for example, but well balanced and comfortable enough to fit the intended brief. Steering, too, is a balanced affair of ease of use and feedback, giving you good control for day-to-day driving.
The Tiguan scores well on safety, as Volkswagen thankfully hasn’t skimped on autonomous emergency braking (which also has pedestrian detection). There’s also park assist, front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, and something Volkswagen calls ‘manoeuvre braking’. It’s kind of like AEB, but for when you are under 10km/h. There is no blind-spot monitoring, which would round out the qualifications nicely.
Because the Tiguan 110TSI is so new, Volkswagen is still hard at work finalising where it fits into its capped-price servicing schedule. Considering the engine is smaller and only powers the front wheels, you’d think the price of maintenance would be lower than an equivalent 2.0-litre AWD Tiguan. Those, by the way, range between $409 and $701 for the first five years, with a cumulative cost of $3184 over that time.
The new Tiguan 110TSI is a welcome addition back into Volkswagen’s medium-SUV range. Australia has a history of skewing sales towards the higher end of product ranges, but the entry point cannot be forgotten.
While it’s the cheapest of the range, it doesn’t feel like a cheap car. Volkswagen has been smart with its inclusions and omissions, leaving a balanced car that ticks the right boxes without being frivolous.