Volkswagen’s Tiguan Allspace 110TSI is one of those surprise packages.
Upon first glance, I instantly assumed that this base-model car would likely be fraught with danger. As in, missing key safety elements, sporting an underdone wheezy engine, et cetera.
A simple strategy that car brands sometimes employ is to create an entry-model variant for the sole purpose of being able to communicate on the model name at an attractive, intriguing price.
It can be done via decontenting. Removing items, in most cases items that make the car desirable and compelling in the first place, in some form of sacrificial marketing attempt. From here, this entry version can be used to drive awareness of the overall product offering, at an attractive price, to draw people in. The up-sell then takes place in the dealership, and the rest is history.
This seems more prevalent in the European realm, where a large portion of cars sold, particularly in the SUV segment, skew toward the higher, most expensive trim levels.
Add on top the universal sentiment toward European cars, which is 'they're expensive', and it becomes easy to understand how this simple strategy spawned to quell such a notion. Given that the Tiguan is from a European brand (albeit built in Mexico), I hope you too can understand why I half expected that to be reality.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when my initial premature assumption proved to be far from the truth.
The Tiguan Allspace 110TSI kicks off from $40,990 before on-roads. Currently, it is on campaign at $42,990 drive-away nationally, which makes it quite the appealing buy on paper.
One could argue that its true competitors are the Peugeot 5008 or the larger Mazda CX-8. By true, I mean vehicles that begin to dip their toe into the premium pool while offering 5+2 passenger carrying capability.
Given the seating arrangement is what separates the Allspace from its ever so slightly different Tiguan brethren, it seems rather remiss not to compare against competitors with the same intrinsics.
Peugeot’s entry into this segment, the 5008 GT Line, is currently on special from $51,990 drive-away. This alone makes it priced stratospherically apart from the wee $42K Tiguan Allspace. Since it has discontinued its entry Allure trim level, the French brand's offering sadly no longer caters to those on a budget.
On the same planet as the Tiguan Allspace 110TSI, however, is Mazda’s CX-8 Sport entry model, which starts from $39,990 before on-roads. It is currently on campaign, too, priced from $41,490 drive-away. Also on sale from the same brand is its CX-9 Sport entry model, offered for the same campaign price of $41,490. So that makes two compelling options to pick from the Mazda stable.
If you begin to venture down slightly into more mainstream offerings, both Nissan and Honda become options. The Nissan X-Trail ST-L is available currently for sub-$40K drive-away, and the Honda CR-V VTi-L7 for a pip under $43K drive-away. Cheaper versions of both exist, but the mid-range models offer plenty of value for similar money.
So, plenty of choices out there if you're willing to broaden your expectations.
However, if you're drawn toward the badge, and genuinely value what comes with it, the Tiguan does stand out amongst the pack as an opportunity to step up into something a little fancy at mainstream prices.
Part of the reason why Volkswagen is able to price this car so well is because of the running gear.
The 110TSI is logically named after its 110kW, 250Nm four-cylinder petrol engine. It is front-wheel drive, and sends its power through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Figures aside, as they too can be fraught with danger, there’s ample power on board.
Situations such as late merges, or when you incorrectly read the road and have to jump in front of someone to access a turning lane, can be managed just fine.
Those sorts of blunders, which happen to us all, just require some forethought. Torque is on tap from 1500rpm, so there is some immediacy about how it does things, but there’s no escaping the diminutive kilowatt output of this driveline.
I did take the opportunity to fill the car up in various ways to see how it felt, as I figured this is where it would likely fall down. To be honest, only when it was absolutely loaded to the gills with grown adults did I lust for more punch from the driveline.
If this point does raise some concerns, then consider looking into the more expensive 132TSI Comfortline version. Not only do you get more power, but you also benefit from Volkswagen's 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, too.
However, as a family shuttle, with the occasional chock-a-block weekend away, I believe you’ll learn to live with the performance that the 110TSI offers, for the price. On test, it returned 7.8 litres of fuel use for every 100km travelled, against the official combined claim of 6.6 litres per 100km.
The way it rides is complementary to the engine’s lethargic nature. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Due to the employment of a relatively small 18-inch wheel with a rather bloaty 55-profile tyre, you benefit from decent absorption from the rubber alone.
It’s certainly calm and collected through most urban situations. The only time you notice a level of crudeness of its basic, fixed dampers is when you overexert them too quickly, as in approach a speed bump with a little too much pace, or accidentally put a wheel into a severe, unseen pothole.
What follows is a rather unpleasant thud from the corner that copped it. I’d safely say this issue manifested itself more times in this car than any others I’ve tested from this segment, hence why I’m making a point about it.
Partially related to this small gripe is a certain floatiness that it also exhibits when the car is pushed at pace. Again, something that many will unlikely experience, but worth acknowledging if you’re somewhat expecting to bolt through the back roads of slightly rural areas.
I stress again that these are products of extremes. Regardless of the basic nature of its suspension, it remains refreshingly comfortable over the usual, poor Australian bitumen.
One could consider its downfalls a trade-off for suppleness with simple suspension methodology, and in which case I’m happy to accept that.
Steering remains a strong point for the VW brand, and you can even feel it in this car. Sure enough it’s light, but there’s a rather natural way to which it loads up when you apply steering effort. Enough so to make it feel natural, despite being electrically assisted.
The best parts of this car remain safeguarded for its occupants.
The driver receives the benefit of good visibility, legible instruments, and strong ergonomics. An 8.0-inch infotainment system controls the show, with things such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on board. If you’ve yet to join the smartphone integration bandwagon, there’s a native navigation on board the Discover media system to also cater for your needs.
Nice-to-haves such as a digital instrument cluster and premium audio are reserved for the options list. There’s not much colour or material distinction going on in the cabin either, for that matter, with a sea of black plastics, some soft, others not, dominating the overall visual theme.
Out back, this rational theme continues. The rear seatback tray tables are genuinely handy, as I found my son to be rather content with his chopped apple hanging out there instead of in his sweaty, muggy hands.
Why I mention this is that more often than not, kids drop food that then gets lost into the ether, only to reappear weeks later in a rather disgusting state of being. Those tray tables somewhat alleviate that point.
I once changed my son on the move, as you do, and found the trays equally awesome to place things while you take care of business. A quick wipe down with some antiseptic wipes and you’re back and running again.
Tray tables. Such a simple thing. Such joy, however.
Guests in the second row who are a bit older will also like the fact there’s a USB port, alongside a 12-volt outlet and dedicated air-conditioning controls.
I can park aside the dreary nature of the ever so black cabin, and the lack of diversity in materials, if the functional elements have been well catered for. While it might only be the entry trim level of the Tiguan Allspace, the 110TSI Comfortline has that balance in check, even more so when you begin to assess the cargo area.
Firstly, the tailgate is electric as well as hands-free operated, either of which I was not expecting at all.
Secondly, it reveals a substantial 700L when configured in five-seat mode. In seven-seat mode, you’re around 230L – not too far off a Toyota Corolla – with room for an overnight bag or two, or a week's worth of shopping that’s been cleverly stacked, alongside seven occupants.
It’s huge, and you won’t run out of room. Pet owners will love the space, too, as there’s enough room for a large dog to easily be ferried around, no worries at all.
A pet peeve of mine is when occasional seven-seaters do not have an area to store the rear cargo blind. They’re occasional seats, which means you’ll likely be using them when you’re out, at a spur of the moment, or when you least expect it.
So, it makes sense, then, to have an area to store the rear cargo blind.
Example A: You get to school to pick up your kids, only to find their mate will also be joining you as a last-minute addition, and part of a plan that you were not privy to. The Tiguan has room under the boot floor for the blind, unlike a Land Rover Discovery Sport that doesn’t.
This means you can go from five to seven seats on the fly, store everything away, and go on your merry slightly rage-filled way wondering if the house is clean enough for visitors.
As previously mentioned, vehicular frivolities such as glossy black plastics and 10.0-inch touchscreens are just a distraction, and possible hindrance to family life. I'd rather pick tray tables and clever storage over superfluous nonsense any day of the week.
They’re nice if you can afford them, but if you’re a large family on a budget, the Tiguan Allspace packs in the things you need at the cost of some of the things you may like.
Just be wary of all the compromises.
Loading people into the third row can be a pickle depending on your scenario. Access to the very back is only via the passenger-side rear door, meaning that if you have a child seat installed there, which is almost certainly where it would be, then you’ll find said access crippled.
You’ll need to become armed with the knowledge of how to fit a child seat properly in order to use the third row in that circumstance. Not a huge issue, but it could be a genuine concern to some.
Also, a journey while residing in the third row can be awfully bumpy, given its location pretty much over the rear suspension. Kids may find it enjoyable. Adults, not so much.
Not that there’s heaps of room for adults back there, anyway. I sat in the back for 15 minutes and found it quite pokey and uncomfortable, but not dire. There’s one cupholder located back in the third row, on the left side of the cabin, with storage reserved for the right side.
If your budget can stretch, and you wish to decorate your Allspace, there are plentiful option packs available. The one I would consider deeply is the drive assistance package, which brings blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert as the big ticket items.
As much as I’d love for this tech to be standard, VW has crammed a lot into the Allspace 110TSI Comfortline, so compromise again has to rear its head somewhere.
As a base model, you do get some active safety gear as standard. Front autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection is fitted, as is lane-keeping assist, self-parking tech, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, as just some inclusions.
Add in keyless entry and start, and the aforementioned electric tailgate with hands-free opening, and you begin to see that it is surprisingly well equipped for an entry model, despite some driver assistance tech remaining as optional.
As a family of three or four, you may find it hard to step away from the regular Tiguan model. Sure, not opting for seven seats means you’ll unlikely be ambushed by your kids with requests to ride in the third row with their friend after school.
Jovial comments aside, the second you add a furry friend to the mix, plan to extend your family, or instead spend time with nieces and nephews in lieu of having more of your own, is when reasons to opt for the Allspace begin to compound.
Extra seating is one of those trivial things that you know you'll survive without, and maybe not see the benefit of immediately then and there, when making your decision in the showroom.