One of Australia’s most popular SUVs has come in for a mid-life facelift, and added a high-performance version.
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The Volkswagen Tiguan family SUV has received a mid-life update four years after this generation went on sale in Australia – and promises another step towards autonomous driving tech, and the option of a high-performance model for the first time.

Official photos of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan show the German brand’s biggest-selling model (after overtaking the VW Golf last year) will adopt the company’s new front end appearance, notably the chiselled headlights and wide grille that brings it into line with the newest family members.

The interior again features a 10.25-inch digital instrument display and an 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen, a new steering wheel design with new touch controls, as well as some trim changes and new charging ports, including USB-C.

Volkswagen's new MIB3 infotainment system, revealed with the refreshed Passat last year, is also featured.

The electrically-powered tailgate, with sensors that detect a deft swing of the foot to open or close, will be available on more models than before.

Top-end models will have memory settings for the power seats and side mirrors – able to switch between different drivers at the press of a button – as well as the option of heated seats.

New ambient lighting for the cabin of top end models will give owners the choice of 15 colours to suit their mood.

US models will have premium audio by Fender, though it’s unclear if that will be offered on examples sold here.

The flagship Tiguan R, not yet confirmed for Australia, is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine producing 235kW and 420Nm. Volkswagen claims a 4.9-second 0-100km/h sprint time.

As with the Golf R, power is sent to an all-wheel drive system through a seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch transmission – though the all-wheel drive system scores advanced torque vectoring on the rear axle.

In the specification shown here, the hero model wears 21-inch alloy wheels and features an Akrapovic exhaust system. Further details on the Tiguan R are still to come.

A statement from Volkswagen says the new Tiguan “takes assisted driving one step further” with a new optional feature called Travel Assist.

“The system can take over steering, braking and acceleration of the new Tiguan at speeds of between 0 and210kmh,” while pointing out “the driver remains responsible for control … at all times”.

The system uses including radar cruise control and lane keeping assistance technology. To activate the next stage in the gradual rollout of autonomous motoring, the driver needs to press the Travel Assist button on the new steering wheel, “but must keep their hands on the steering wheel even when Travel Assist is active”.

“Touch detection is a great deal more reliable than steering angle-based systems even on long and very flat stretches of road,” Volkswagen said.

The system also takes into account local speed limit information, town boundary signs, junctions and roundabouts, and will adjust the vehicle’s speed accordingly.

Volkswagen Australia says it is too early to discuss engine options for local showrooms, however CarAdvice understands most will be carryover from today’s model, given the extra cost involved in engineering updates to suit our low grade fuel.

A statement from Volkswagen Australia said the company experts to see updated Tiguan next year, but does not yet have official timing.

As for the proposed Volkswagen Tiguan R high-performance model, the spokesman said: “We’d love to offer it. Australia remains one of the biggest markets worldwide for R cars, so it would be a perfect fit for us.”