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Volkswagen keen on performance Tiguan

R rated: Volkswagen has dabbled in R-branded SUVs with the Touareg, and the smaller Tiguan may well follow suit.

High performance Tiguan on VW’s wish list as Allspace looms for 2018

Volkswagen logo21 Aug 2017

By TIM ROBSON

VOLKSWAGEN Australia has given its strongest hint yet that it is considering the introduction of a high-performance version of its new Tiguan mid-size SUV to its local line-up.

On sale for almost 12 months, the Tiguan is currently offered in six variants, including two front-wheel drives, a pair of diesel all-wheel drives and two petrol AWDs.

VW has also just launched a pair of limited edition models, dubbed ‘Adventure’.

The highest performing variant is presently the EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol 162TSI AWD that offers 162kW and 350Nm. These are the same output figures as a Golf GTI in Mk 7 guise before it was updated as part of the ‘7.5’ refresh.

Volkswagen Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer said the car-maker would be keen on an even spicier version of the Tiguan, should it become available.

“The Tiguan 162TSI has been a really strong seller for us, and I think it shows me that Australians really enjoy their performance, together with the practicality that you get with an SUV,” he said at the launch of the Golf Performance line in NSW last week.

“Certainly I'd love to see something even further in terms of a performance SUV.”

Volkswagen’s last serious foray into performance SUVs came in 2008, with the release of the 285kW/850Nm Touareg R50, which was powered by a twin-turbo 5.0-litre V10 diesel.

Despite his enthusiasm for a hot version of the Tiguan, Mr Shafer would not confirm a timeline for a potential launch.

“There’s nothing in the plans but certainly it’s something that we’ll feed back to Germany and you never know,” he said. “Maybe there’s a chance something could happen.”

Sales of 5917 units to the end of July this year put the Tiguan ahead of competitors in the mid-size SUV segment such as the Ford Escape (2864) and Honda CR-V (3798), and not far behind cars like the Subaru Forester (7711).

It is Volkswagen’s second best seller in Australia behind the Golf (9999) and ahead of the Amarok (5280).

Mr Shafer said that the company was happy with customer response to the Tiguan, and it was only supply constraints that were holding the car back from greater sales success.

The incoming three-row version – known as the Tiguan Allspace – is also being tasked with adding volume.

“We like to think that Golf is often referenced as a benchmark in small cars and we wanted Tiguan to be similarly positioned in medium SUV and I feel we’ve had a really great response,” he said. “It’s selling quite strongly for us and in fact a lot of people are purchasing Tiguans towards the upper end of that range.

“We’re quite confident in how it’s performing and that leads into Tiguan Allspace next year, where we can take that range and extend it further with a bigger product at seven seats.”

Mr Shafer confirmed that the company has not workshopped the Allspace with current Tiguan customer, and there was no concern that sister company Skoda would take sales from its parent with its own seven-seat Kodiaq SUV that went on sale in June.

“We’ve definitely have been trying to size up that market and understand what customers are after,” said Mr Shafer. “I think it’s going to bring some really strong benefits in terms of what it offers.

“I think we’ll have a good offering to the customers in terms of a choice between grades and engines and that sort of thing. We haven’t had a seven-seat SUV in the range, and certainly I believe there’s some opportunities there.”

The company is still waiting on the release of a small SUV to compete in the space currently dominated by brands like Mazda and Mitsubishi.

Another glimpse of the T-Roc – a concept that was first shown at the 2014 Geneva motor show – points to a five-door small crossover that is likely to be unveiled at Frankfurt next month.

“There’s no secret that I’ll take whatever SUVs I can get my hands on,” confirmed Mr Shafer, “and there’s room underneath Tiguan. We’re certainly focused on getting the right products for Australia there.”

He acknowledged that it has been a long wait for a vehicle to take on the fastest growing segment of the industry.

“Nothing can come soon enough,” he said. “But we’re going to make sure we get it right, and I think we’ll have some good products for Australia that will fill out that SUV range.”

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