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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Tiguan - 110TDI Comfortline

Our Opinion

We like
Maturity, refinement, safety, efficiency, packaging, quality, performance, solidity, up-spec cabin presentation
Room for improvement
Duller in design, busy ride, road noise intrusion, low-speed diesel lag

Volkswagen logo20 Jul 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Overview

VOLKSWAGEN is back on the SUV offensive with the second-generation Tiguan – a larger, wider and roomier successor to the popular original – offering much of what the latest Golf hatch does in a more family-orientated package.

Now that it is more on par with deadly rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, it is expected that Wolfsburg’s mid-size crossover will be one of the segment’s frontrunners.

We drive the cheapest diesel, the 110TDI Comfortline all-wheel drive (AWD), to find out if that’s the case.

Price and equipment

Welcome to the most German of SUVs, the latest Volkswagen Tiguan.

How so? Beneath the crisp boxy lines, the second-generation vehicle to wear that silly badge (it’s an amalgam of tiger and iguana) is fitted with much of the MQB modular transverse architecture that has made the existing Mk7 Golf one of the greatest cars on the market.

Larger yet (up to 54kg) lighter than before, the key goal is for improved efficiency. A noble aim.

Additionally, the Wolfsburg boffins have taken the opportunity to ‘right size’ this vehicle to make it more competitive against Mazda CX-5 and co, sitting on a platform that is some 30mm wider while the wheelbase is 76mm longer than its 2008 predecessor. Result? The welcome increase in rear-seat and cargo space addresses one of the previous gen’s biggest shortcomings.

Of course, all this progress comes at a price, further underlining the Tiguan’s German-ness.

While the base 110TSI Trendline manual starts off from $31,990 plus on-road costs, the entry-level diesel tested here commences at $42,990 – so cheap the Volkswagen isn’t.

On the other hand, this is one loaded medium SUV, with standard autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane assist, multi-collision braking, parking assistance tech, driver fatigue detection, a 360-degree ‘fish-eye’ reversing camera with front and rear sensors, seven airbags, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, electric park brake, an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with App-Connect USB interface, sat-nav, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, cruise control, tri-zone climate control (with glovebox chiller), under-seat storage, fog lights, tyre-pressure monitors,17-inch alloys shod with 215/65R17 tyres and a space-saver spare.

Our Tiguan also featured the $2250 Driver Assistance Package, bringing a swish Active Information Display boasting a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and Side Assist lane-change assistance.

That’s $45,240. Which puts this diesel-powered Tiguan all-wheel drive in the thick of the booming medium SUV segment. Let’s see what it’s like.

Interior

Supersize the Golf!You just know that the latest Tiguan’s interior has been created around its use as a family-sized medium SUV, with more nooks and crannies than poor old granny’s creepy old pantry.

Fab seats, logical controls, excellent ventilation, great vision throughout (due to deep side windows) and a real sense of quality and craftsmanship pervade. So it’s a bit of a shame that the whole execution has to be so… cold and Teutonic. Maybe that’s what the punters expect from a Volkswagen, but the latest South Koreans (and the second-gen Mazda CX-5) do a better job in infusing some inviting warmth into their cabins.

That said, the optional Active Info Display computerised instrumentation does add a bit of Audi mystique to the plain old Comfortline’s dash, as do the very Bentley-esque crosshatch pleated seat coverings, while the lovely leather wheel, climate control switchgear, and T-bar shifter are also a cut above. The Tiguan, therefore, is a bit of a patchwork of hard plastic practicality and premium refinement.

Two overhead storage compartments also serve the second-row passengers, though they’re quite limited in capacity scope.

Speaking of the back, the biggest change to the Tiguan’s interior is felt in the rear seat area, thanks to more than ample head, leg, shoulder and feet room as a result of the model’s upsize.

In Comfortline guise, the ambience is commensurate with the Volkswagen’s premium pricing, thanks to rear vent outlets with temperature control, reclinable and slidable seats, airline-style trays and those trademark flocked door bins – though they aren’t exactly fit to take a one litre bottle.

Further back, the cargo area really makes hay with that longer and wider track, offering a handy 615 litres of capacity (up 145L) or a cavernous 1645L with the rear seats dropped.

The space is big, boxy and practical, with a low and flat loading area aided by the 40:60:40 backrest permutations note these can be lowered via a remote set of levers. Easy for when your arms are full of stuff.

A space-saver spare resides beneath the floor.

Engine and transmission

Volkswagen offers a pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesels – this 110TDI and a more expensive 140TDI.

Both drive all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, while the part-time Haldex coupling sends torque to the rear wheels when additional traction is required, and also offers a unique off-road function (including a Snow mode) via a rotary dial.

That said, this is very resolutely an on-road only proposition. No bush bashing for us.

Tipping the scales at 1647kg, our 110TDI Comfortline delivers a sufficient 110kW of power between 3500-4000rpm and a useful 340Nm of torque between 1750-3000rpm. It’s commendably quiet inside, yet surprisingly chatty in idle mode if you step out.

In classic Volkswagen DSG/diesel combo behaviour, step-off performance is momentarily hesitant – especially if you’re in a rush – before the turbine kicks in and then the Tiguan whooshes forward with quite forceful thrust.

Keep your foot buried and this thing will keep pulling like an ox well past the legal speed limit. The trick is to stay in the sub-3000rpm sweet spot for instant point-to-point squirts. The sprint to 100km/h is officially 9.3 seconds, but it actually feels livelier because while that initial lag is to blame, once on song everything happens so fast.

Of course people buy diesels to help keep running costs down. The 110TDI’s official average is 5.9 litres per 100km. Our indicated consumption was 6.7L/100km. and that was mainly around town and in the inner-suburbs.

Stop/start tech certainly assists here. Keep in mind that all Tiguan diesels need ‘AdBlue’ urea solution to help cut harmful nitrogen oxide emissions.

The 110TDI’s braked towing capacity of 2500kg.

Ride and handling

Here the Tiguan scores a high distinction for handling and a rap across the knuckles for ride.

Employing a variation of the Golf’s fine MacPherson strut-type front suspension and a four-link rear end, the Tiguan has the recipe for dynamic excellence, and it certainly dishes up a tasty treat for keen drivers.

Beautifully smooth and measured steering helps provide crisp, clean and satisfying cornering, backed up by a firm sense of security and control.

Belying its SUV proportions, the German crossover’s adept balance and agility seem unflappable. And if the lucky person behind the wheel is in a playful mood, there’s just enough flexibility and give in the traction and stability control tuning for some gentle sideways action. Bravo, Wolfsburg. Job well done.

So it’s too bad that all this delicious athleticism comes at the cost of ride comfort. The suspension simply feels too firm and tetchy on anything other than the slickest of surfaces to be comfortable, a fact underlined recently with spells in the Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 rivals. That there’s so much silky sweetness elsewhere only exacerbates the 110TDI Comfortline’s lack of suspension suppleness.

Plus, the Michelin Primacy 215/65R17 tyres did little to quell road noise as well. After the hushed Golf, this is hugely disappointing.

VW does offer adaptive dampers to soften the ride, but it’s only part of the R-Line package that bumps the price north of $50K.

Safety and servicing

The Tiguan scores a maximum five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, with VW publishing scheduled servicing costs for up to five years and 75,000km on its national website.

The warranty period is for three years/unlimited kilometres.

Verdict

For good and bad, the latest Tiguan in 110TDI DSG Comfortline guise attempts to be the Golf of medium SUVs. Classy, quality engineering with an efficient and techy edge as well as a premium price to match, there can be no doubt that this is a Volkswagen.

Yet in two important ways there is definitely room for improvement, particularly compared to the iconic hatch baby brother. The ride is too firm and there’s too much road noise coming through. These are minuses not associated with the latest Golf.

Still, try before you buy, because if you drive on smooth roads and/or don’t care about having class-leading suspension suppleness and noise suppression, then the cheapest diesel Tiguan is an otherwise terrifically complete and competent family medium SUV.

Perhaps if VW decides to offer adaptive dampers to help soften the ride as an option then the 110TDI Comfortline could be a class leader.

Rivals

Mazda CX-5 Touring 2.2D AWD auto from $41,990 plus on-road costsA massive step forward in terms of refinement over its noisy predecessor, the second-gen CX-5 has climbed the social ladder with a high quality interior to match the slick and punchy diesel powertrain. An excellent and safe choice.

Ford Escape Trend TDCi AWD from $38,490 plus on-road costsNot the best variant (that’s the Ambiente manual or Trend 1.5-litre turbo-petrol), the Trend diesel still delivers a gutsy and dynamically assured grand touring experience, backed up by a roomy and practical interior. A facelifted and improved Kuga, Escape remains a leading contender.

Subaru Forester 2.0D-S AWD auto from $41,740 before on-road costsFussy styling and a plasticky dated dash detract from what is still and incredibly comfortable family SUV, offering a spacious and airy cabin, superb handling and unflappable traction. The world’s only boxer diesel makes a strange noise but it too delivers in spades.

Note: Images are of the Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline

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