In late 2016, I put in an order for one of the first 162TSI MY17 Tiguans to be shipped to Australia. I had done a tonne of research; the remit was to purchase an SUV partly for the practically of having a larger vehicle and partly because my wife and I were planning to conceive our first child (who, by the way, is finally on their way!). I had looked at a variety of vehicles from Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Audi and BMW (the last few were probably a stretch too far, but served as a good comparison).
As with most Volkswagens, I found that the Tiguan fit into a nice little niche between the run of the mill brands and the luxury brands. After a long wait (close to six months) I finally received it. My wife was probably more excited than I was that the vehicle had arrived because she no longer had to put up with me talking about it all the time and constantly tracking its whereabouts on the vessel travelling from Bremerhaven to Sydney.
I settled with the Tiguan because it was a class above other affordable SUVs and offered great value when compared to say a BMW or Audi, and at the time offered more in terms of technology. I bought the 162TSI with R-Line pack, DAP (Driver's Assistance Pack) and sunroof.
One of the first things you notice about the Tiguan, at least with the more aggressive looking R-Line styling, is the muscular appearance. It's still conservative enough to wear a VW badge but pushes the boundaries further than some of their other models.
The interior is a great place to spend time during a daily commute, or anytime really. When choosing the R-Line pack I was a bit afraid that the dark roof-lining may make an otherwise bright and airy interior feel a bit dark and dingy but with the panoramic sunroof those fears were put to rest. I've traditionally steered clear of sunroofs, seeing them as a bit of a novelty, but the Tiguan's sunroof is massive and I've had so many people comment on how nice it is when sitting in the back. We use it all the time too (either in tilt or open mode) and we rarely close the blind. We live in the northern beaches of Sydney and haven't found it radiating too much heat, and it's really nice driving along the coastline with the ocean breeze passing through the cabin.
The digital dash (Active Info Display as VW call it) is quality. It's worth mentioning that the 2017 models appear to be fitted with a higher quality display than more recent models; I've driven a few later model courtesy cars and they seem to have inferior displays. Having the maps available in front of you while you're driving is really handy, even if you don't have route guidance active. The digital dash was part of the Driver's Assistance Package that included adaptive cruise control, 360 degree parking camera ("Area View"), lane guidance, lane departure warning and automatic parking. I don't use those last three features to be honest, but the adaptive cruise is something that I couldn't live without now. Android Auto is a feature that was on the must-have list and it works really well in the Tiguan.
The seats are really comfortable. The driver's seat is automatic with three memory positions. When you create driver profiles and associate them with individual keys, the seat position is also remembered and recalled when switching between drivers (the side mirrors also adjust). We've found this to be really handy as we both drive the car and it saves us having to manually adjust these each time. The passengers seat is completely manual (an obvious cost-cutting method) but it does, however, fold forward and lie completely flat, allowing you to load in long, wide items. I was amazed that I was able to load in large IKEA furniture flat-pack boxes with ease - they extended from the boot and almost touched the front dash.
I think there are two types of people in this world, those who like cars and enjoy driving, and those that merely see cars as simply a tool to get from A to B. I'm in the former camp, and I think that has something to do with why this is my third VW vehicle. I've always found that they have better performance and presentation than what is served up in the lower end of the market. I can justify a bit more spend on a VW over some of the Japanese and Korean brands but can't quite bring myself to spending a fair bit more on a true luxury brand. I'll happily accept a pay-rise though to help subsidise a luxury car purchase (just in case my employer happens to read this).
The 162TSI with R-Line pack is an SUV for those who like to drive. The engine is the same as the Golf GTI (the EA888) and the R-Line pack gets Progressive Steering, which transforms an otherwise dull vehicle into something that feels a lot more fun to drive. The first Tiguan I took for a test drive didn't have progressive steering, and when I hopped into the R-Line I immediately felt the difference.
In terms of performance, the 162TSI is, well, quick, but not blisteringly fast. It's still punchy and there are glimpses of really impressive pace here and there but it often feels a little restrained. It's miles ahead of the other SUV's I drove mind you. The closest in terms of performance would be the Forester XT, however the CVT transmission completely turned me off that particular choice.
The performance of the car is still more than enough to satisfy those who want something more than just a boring SUV. The drive is also very smooth, the cabin is pretty quiet and the 7-speed DSG is better than previous VWs that I've had, although it can still be a bit tentative sometimes. I've found the handling to be better than other SUVs I have driven, but there is still some body roll through corners. Let's face it, it's heavier and rides higher than a Golf.
In terms of reliability, well, it hasn't been completely smooth sailing. I've had it in for service quite a few times to fix problems along the way: a leaking sunroof, a recall to address an issue with the sunroof LED strip (which does look amazing though!), a replacement control unit for the seat memory function that I mentioned was awesome and I’ve had to have a key replaced. Thankfully these things were fixed under warranty; unfortunately though, the 2017 model only has a 3 year warranty (not the 5 year that the latest models now get) and three months after my warranty ran out the windscreen fluid pump failed and had to be replaced. I hoped that VW may apply some goodwill but I ended up out of pocket for the repair. There is also what appears to be quite a common problem in where the fuel line rattles and creates a buzzing sound. I had that fixed about a year in, however it has started to re-appear now.
Overall, I really like the Tiguan and I can't picture myself driving any other SUV (at least in a comparable price-bracket). The technology is amazing, the drive is smooth yet engaging, and it's a good looking car. My experience has been tarnished somewhat by some of the issues that I've encountered, but it's an otherwise enjoyable car and I'd recommend it to anyone who's after the practicality of an SUV with the driving pleasure of a more sporty and refined ride.