Car reviews - Volkswagen - Tiguan - 140TDI Highline AWD
Good visibility, sits flat, ride on adaptive suspension also strong, cabin and boot space, first-rate instrument panel
Room for improvement
Pricey with options, no digital radio reception, centre console lid a little low as an armrest, servicing costs
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25 Apr 2017
Price and equipment
THE diesel flagship 140TDI Highline starts from $49,990 and is differentiated from its lower priced siblings by lashings of chrome on the grille, headlight and window surrounds and along its flanks, in addition to the body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles.
Chrome roof rails, privacy window tint and darkened LED rear tail-lights are also among the telltale signs of the Highline.
Among the top-spec variant’s other features are 18-inch alloy wheels (with 235/55 tyres), power-folding and heated exterior mirrors with puddle lights and LED indicators, Vienna leather trimmed seats, three-zone climate control with air quality sensors and filtering, cruise control, LED ambient interior lighting, the automatic tailgate with powered opening and closing and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with phone, audio, cruise and instrumentation controls.
The back seat is a 40/20/40 split-fold, slides fore and aft, as well as reclining, with a fold-down cupholder-equipped armrest, three child seat anchor points on the backrests and two ISOFIX attachments for the outboard seats.
The new Tiguan also gets a top-grade infotainment system with eight speakers, integrated satellite navigation, 10gig of internal storage, full voice control, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, controlled by the 8.0-inch touchscreen with proximity sensors.
The test car had been upgraded with the $2000 driver assistance package, which might well be worth the extra cash purely for the high-resolution 12.3-inch TFT instrument display screen with myriad menus.
It also adds adaptive cruise control, overhead camera views, lane departure and rear cross-traffic warnings.
The R-Line package fitted to the test car adds $4000 to the bottom line but upgrades the suspension to the adaptive chassis control system, increases the wheel size to 20-inch with 255/40 tyres, adds black trim to the headlining and pillars, some interior trim and stitching tweaks.
It also gains progressive steering, R-Line multi-function leather covered sports steering wheel with decorative stitching in Crystal Grey and R-Line logo, R-Line badges inside and out and it’s also embossed into the leather seats.
An R-Line rear spoiler and stainless steel finish for the pedals complete the as-tested $56,690 picture.
An extra 76mm of wheelbase compared with the old model tells something of the space story in the new Tiguan, which is now built on the modular platform underpinning a number of VW Group models, with good reason – it works.
Overall length has grown by 60mm, it’s 30mm wider, but the leather-trimmed interior feels more open despite a 30mm drop in overall height.
Power adjustment for the heated sports front seats and reach and rake steering adjustment allows the driver easy access to a good driving position within the comfortable and supportive seats.
The front passenger seat will also even fold flat for extra long loads, a trick it took from its commercial cousin, the Caddy.
The only real complaint is that the centre console lid could be a little higher to act as an armrest – apart from that the driver gets everything required, topped by a virtual instrument panel.
First seen in cousin Audi, the instruments can resemble a traditional dial set-up, backed by a number of different screens and readouts, as well as the ability to shrink the dials and expand the map for easy navigation.
It alone would make $2000 seem a small price to pay for the driver assistance package.
The chrome highlights of the exterior continue within the LED-lit cabin, featuring on the vents, gear selector surround, around the headlight, exterior mirror and power window switches.
Dominating the centre stack is the touchscreen control system to deal with the bulk of the car’s functions, with the dual-zone climate controls, USB and 12-volt outlets beneath it, all of which is easy to use without having to dive deeply into sub-menus.
Storage is above average, with underseat drawers and door pockets with bottle holders in all doors there’s plenty of different spots for things, including a dash top storage bin and in-roof storage that’s accessible from the rear.
Rear passengers get ample head and legroom, with LED lights and the ability to change the backrest angle, as well as getting aircraft style fold-up tables, a fold-down armrest with cupholders and rear vents with a separate temperature control.
The rear bench slides fore and aft to increase rear boot space, which ranges in capacity from 615 litres to a maximum of 1655 litres and is accessed by the power-operated automatic opening and closing tailgate with handsfree opening.
The cargo bay’s floor can be adjusted for height, while the load lip is already at a useful level it also has load restraint hooks and a 12-volt outlet.
It’s a boot is more than capable of containing a stack of school bags or suitcases, the family mutt or a combination of all three without serious concern for rear vision.
Engine and transmission
Under the bonnet is where the German giant has experienced so much grief but looking at the Tiguan’s new drivetrain, there’s plenty of things to like.
The 140TDI is powered by a 2.0-litre common-rail injection turbo-diesel four-cylinder, which produces a useful 140kW between 3500 and 4000rpm, with 400Nm of torque on offer between 1900 and 3300rpm.
In terms of its direct competition, that’s 20k Wmore than the CX-5 but 20Nm down on the slightly lighter Mazda’s peak torque.
Hyundai’s Tucson also gives the Tiguan some kimchi for thought with just four fewer kilowatts and the same torque output.
The new Volkswagen powerplant complies with Euro 6 and has exhaust gas recirculation, a diesel particle filter and the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converter.
SCR is the emissions control system becoming more common on passenger vehicles requiring better emissions control – it mixes urea into the engine exhaust through a special catalyst, setting off a chemical reaction that converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen, water and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The result is CO2 emissions on the combined cycle of 149g/km in German, 155g/km for the Australian-spec vehicles, with NOx emissions of 34.6mg/km and zero particulates.
The seven-speed dual-clutch auto makes good use of the outputs, particularly when Sport mode is dialled up on all systems offering the enthusiastic electronic mapping.
It fires the Tiguan to 100km/h in a claimed 7.9 seconds (just 0.2 slower than 132TSI but 1.4 seconds shy of the 162TSI) and little from the experience on-road casts doubt on that claim.
The fuel economy claim under the ADR regime is 5.9 litres per 100km from the 60-litre tank, but our time in the top-spec diesel Tiguan returned 8.7L/100km at an average speed of 46km/h.
Shorter trips in traffic and elsewhere did little to alter the results from the trip computer, which showed it remained in the 8s despite differing average speeds of 50 and 30km/h.
The seven-speed transmission is, as is the case with most of this ilk, far more likeable once underway, when the instant shifts team sweetly with the decent torque and the new engine’s liking for some revolutions, but it’s still not at home in low-speed maneuvering on an incline.
The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system feels less like it’s addicted to its front-wheel drive roots than earlier incarnations, with its Active Control system with four all-wheel-drive modes – Snow, On-road, and two Off-road settings.
These are selected using a rotary switch that surrounds the brand’s familiar Driving Profile Selection system, with Normal, Sport and Eco profiles.
But a brief sojourn off the tar left us concerned for the splitters and diffusers at the nose and tail of the Tiguan, even though it claims more clearance than the Passat Alltrack at 201mm.
The approach, departure and ramp-over angles (at kerb weight + 75 kg) are 18.4, 24.9 and 15.5 degrees respectively, suggesting good forestry trails and the snow-covered alpine pass to the chalet are more likely on the list of this vehicle’s raisons d'être than rocky rutted tracks in The Outback.
Ride and handling
That’s not to say it does a bad job when there’s dust soiling the rear window and gravel peppering the wheel arches – quite the opposite.
The all-wheel-drive system feels far more at home on good-quality unsealed surfaces than many on-demand systems that have squirrelled around on the dirt previously.
Handling is also less prone to pushing wide through the front, although that happens eventually under heavy provocation, when 1691kg of kerb weight is sent toward the limit.
The electronics tend to temper those tribulations without fuss, be it the electronic traction control aids or the active all-wheel-drive system, which feel as though they work in reasonable harmony on sealed and even more so on unsealed surfaces.
Bodyroll is nicely controlled and there’s still a level of subtle compliance to the typically-firm ride from the MacPherson strut front end, with lower A-arms and an anti-roll bar, with the rear running an independent four-link set-up with coil springs and anti-roll bar all to good effect.
The adaptive damping ‘chassis control’ system that comes with the R-Line option package can take a bow for the ride quality plaudits.
The Normal and Sport modes tend to feel more at home than the Comfort setting, which still has a touch of laziness to its level of control, but it’s a minor blemish.
Those with intentions of heading into rougher terrain can do so armed with an electronic arsenal with some devotion toward 4WD duty – the active control system will tailor the drivetrain and traction aid responses to the selected surface without getting nose-heavy.
But there’s not a lot of margin before terrain might start tearing at bits beneath, suggesting the snow run or a blast down a dirt road with a mountain bike wedged in the large cargo area is a more feasible plan.
Anyone serious about getting it any dirtier than back roads and light-duty off-roading might want to investigate other options for the nose it can be had in its home market with an off-road bumper that improves the approach angle to 24 degrees but has not been made available outside Germany.
Safety and servicing
The Tiguan range carries a five-star ANCAP rating from 2016 and the top-spec model has a long list of safety features for prevention and mitigation in a crash.
The active all-wheel-drive system is backed by stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes (that flash the brake lights in an emergency stop), the multi-collision braking system, as well as the electronic differential lock system that stops the inside wheel from spinning and helps it resist the tendency to understeer.
The Tiguan also has a driver fatigue detection system and the Front Assist with City Emergency Brake (City EB) function to warn and then brake for the inattentive driver, as well as active lanes departure warning system.
Should all that not be enough to prevent a crash, there are dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, as well as a driver’s knee airbag and an active bonnet to reduce pedestrian impact injury as well.
An automatic electric park brake, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror are also on the list.
The top-spec variant alone also gets the automatic, adaptive LED high and low beam headlights as standard, with cornering light functions and LED daytime running lights, foglamps and a headlight cleaning system, as well as rear LED lights, all of which is up there for good quality night lighting.
Automatic locking once underway is a security measure that is still overlooked, and to this mind far more important than the auto-parking system, but at least there’s a useful reversing camera with overhead and views to the direction of travel, parking sensors fore and aft and an optical indication for those sensors as well.
The automatic kerb function that dips the passenger’s side exterior mirror is something still not standard on many vehicles – perhaps the auto-parking system doesn’t need it.
The warranty is a three-year unlimited kilometre cover with roadside assistance and servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km.
Prices for the maintenance still remain on the high side of the market segment, although some of the opposition persist with shorter intervals – prices start from $351 to $964 for the 60,000km or four-year service.
The new Tiguan is a solid step forward for the range, sliding into the mid-size SUV segment within sight of the Mazda sales leader but walking the walk up against the likes of more premium fare from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
The Germans all start on the other side of $60,000 with the likes of the BMW X3, Benz GLC and the Audi Q5, but dismissing a Tiguan without a drive first would be a mistake.
Mazda has just launched its new CX-5 and that has returned fire at the VW, but the segment now offers considerable choice, albeit at a top-end asking price.
Mazda CX-5 Akera, from $49,990 plus on-road costs
The Mazda has asserted itself as a segment yardstick for chassis dynamics and a 2.2-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel that quietly pumps out 129kW and 420Nm, making it one of the best diesel engines in the segment. It’s also endowed with one of the quickest idle-stop systems and a clever six-speed automatic transmission, which results in a 6.0L/100km thirst, but a 403 litre boot lets it down.
Hyundai Tucson Highlander, from $47,450 plus on-road costs
The little South Korean SUV is one of the genuine surprise packets of the segment, with a productive 2.0-litre DOHC direct-injection 16-valve turbo-diesel producing 136kW and 400Nm and deploying it via a six-speed auto.
Fuel economy of 6.8 litres per 100km doesn’t quite pip the Mazda or the VW but the five-year warranty does them all in the 488 litre boot beats the CX-5 but not the cavernous VW cargo bay.
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser AWD diesel auto, from $50,500 plus on-road costs
The veteran of the segment still stands up in sales terms, although perhaps not selling as many oil-burners as the others here. Its AWD system is not as sophisticated as others, nor is the 2.2-litre direct injection turbo-diesel that falls short of the new yardsticks with 110kW and 340Nm. Fuel use of 6.7L/100km isn’t going to make up for the output shortfall either. The warranty and servicing – three years or 100,000km warranty, six months or 10,000km – makes the Mazda’s intervals look good.
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