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Driven: Tiguan to be VW’s second best-seller

VW warns luxury SUVs might ‘get a fright’ as larger Tiguan broadens series’ appeal

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22 Sep 2016

VOLKSWAGEN Australia expects the second-generation Tiguan to become its most popular model after the Golf and is forecasting upwards of 10,000 sales annually, which would catapult it into the top six medium SUV performers.

Additionally, some of that volume is expected to come at the expense of similarly-sized luxury SUVs from brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, as Volkswagen strives to improve its customer satisfaction rating.

Speaking at the launch of the AD-series Tiguan in Byron Bay this week, Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) managing director Michael Bartsch said that the Tiguan’s premium pricing, advanced specification and segment-busting safety places it in a sweet spot above the mainstream but below the premium offerings.

“This is an all-new car, and more importantly it is a step up, in so many ways, it is redefining this segment of the SUV,” he stated. “We’ve moved the Tiguan up from the small SUV segment to the medium SUV segment. This car will go up in terms of the competitive set against the traditional contenders like the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson.

“But more importantly, this car will give those luxury brands that have SUVs priced higher than this a little bit of a fright. If you look at this car against the (Mercedes-Benz) GLC or (BMW) X1, you’ll see a market that will respond in terms of quality, engineering and styling.”

Mr Bartsch added that the new Tiguan would appeal to aspirational buyers as well as value seekers.

“The big advantage is we’re going to have a price that will attract the aspiring middle class. We are delivering premium for the people, at affordable prices, and product quality that is head-to-head with the luxury brands.

“It is very much a lighthouse of Volkswagen of the next couple of years, and an indication of how we will be positioning the brand moving forward. I’ve been very open that the challenge for us is that we make sure we continue to deliver a service and buying experience that is in keeping with the high standard of our vehicles.”

Mr Bartsch dismissed concerns that the Tiguan’s higher base starting price will scare buyers off mainstream medium SUVs, adding that the reason it costs more is why it will not only succeed, but exceed any sales record set by the previous version.

The cheapest automatic (110TSI Trendline DSG FWD front-driver) starts at $34,490 plus on-road costs, while the least expensive all-wheel drive variant (132TSI Comfortline DSG AWD) starts from $41,490.

Meanwhile their respective Mazda CX-5 equivalents are priced from $29,190 (Maxx FWD) and $32,190 respectively, although Volkswagen says that its newcomer’s specification is so ahead of the competition that the Tiguan deserves to be compared to its rivals’ second-tier variants ($32,790 Maxx Sport 2.0L FWD and $35,790 Maxx Sport 2.5L AWD).

“The market will respond very well to a German-conceived, German-designed, German-engineered and German-manufactured car,” Mr Bartsch said. “We are absolutely alone in that segment. A lot of brands are offering SUVs that are described as German made, German conceived, German designed, but they are certainly not made in Germany. And I think that is very important to us.

“Our battleground is looking up and not looking back. This is not a car that we are going out in the market and go head-to-head and have price position wars with the Asian brands, with the brands from Japan or Korea this is not a car either that we are going to compete with the X1 or GLC it is a car that will sit very clearly in its own territory, between the Asian and luxury brands – this is where Volkswagen is going to sit and where the Tiguan is going to sit.

“In terms of sales most of our competitors are doing about 10,000 units per year… and I think we’re capable of doing at least that. But it is important to me not to be doing absolute numbers, but rather that this underlines the brand position for Volkswagen, drives customer satisfaction and sets the standards to which the brand will move forward in Australia.

“The highest accolade that I think we can have when we launch this car and move forward is that we have the highest satisfaction ratings in the business.”

The previous Tiguan’s best sales year was in 2012, when 6871 vehicles were registered, giving Volkswagen 12 per cent share of the small-SUV segment it then competed in.

To date, some 30,000 units have been sold in Australia. Sales barely levelled off in the interim, with that figure edging down to 6334 last year, putting the model fourth in VW’s line-up overall behind the Golf (22,092), Polo (9694), and Amarok (8545).

As reported back in mid July, the new Tiguan kicks off with the 110TSI Trendline manual from $31,990 plus on-road costs, but Volkswagen says that price is justified thanks to boundary-extending standard safety kit such as AEB autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, active bonnet, multi-collision braking, park assist, driver fatigue detection and a 360-degree ‘fish-eye’ reversing camera with front and rear sensors included.

A five-star ANCAP crash test rating has been achieved as a result of all these and more.

Other features include seven airbags, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, electric park brake, 8.0-inch infotainment system with App-Connect USB interface and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tyre-pressure monitors, 17-inch alloys shod with 215/65R17 tyres and a space-saver spare.

The 110TSI Comfortline DSG FWD from $36,990 adds extra chrome detailing, foglights, tri-zone climate control, satellite navigation, colour multi-function display, front seat backrest tables, storage drawers under the front seats and a cooled glovebox, while the 162TSI Highline DSG AWD from $48,490 includes LED headlights with dynamic cornering lights, LED tail-lights, keyless entry/start, an electric tailgate, power folding door mirrors, privacy glass, more advanced satellite navigation, paddle-shifters, heated sports seats up front, powered driver’s seat, ambient interior lighting, leather, and 18-inch alloys sheathed in 235/55R18 rubber.

Launched a year ago this month at the Frankfurt motor show, the latest Tiguan is 30mm wider and sits on a wheelbase that is 76mm longer than before, greatly improving occupant and cargo space alike. The latter’s capacity (up 145 litres to 615L, extending to 1645L with seats folded) with the standard sliding/reclining rear seat at its most forward position offers 53 per cent greater than the CX-5’s, according to Volkswagen.

Despite the larger dimensions, there has been an average weight drop of 54kg, thanks to the use of higher-tensile steel with variable thicknesses in key parts.

The platform is a variation of the MQB modular transverse architecture underpinning the current Mk7 Golf, meaning MacPherson strut-type front suspension and a four-link rear end. Steering is via an electro-mechanical set-up offering an 11.5 metre-turning circle.

The twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder-only Euro 6-certified engine choices with idle stop arrive as either comprehensively modified or all-new, starting with the base, 1430-1450kg, 110TSI’s 1.4-litre direct-injection petrol variant, replacing the controversial 118kW/240Nm 1.4 Twincharger supercharged/turbocharged unit.

Weighing 68kg less than before and offering 110kW of power between 5000-6000rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1500-3000rpm, it gains cylinder-deactivation technology to save fuel (the centre two cylinders de/reactivated as required, at speeds under 130km/h.

Only the front wheels are driven, and it averages either 6.3 litres per 100km (six-speed DSG) or 6.0L/100km (six-speed manual – the only manual on offer).

Both emit between 138 and 146 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions, and dash to 100km/h in 9.2 seconds.

Volkswagen predicts that most buyers (around 30 per cent – double that of the 110TSI) will plonk for the 132TSI, which is a 1600kg, 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol delivering 132kW from 3900-6000rpm and 320Nm from 1500-3940rpm to all four wheels, via a seven-speed DSG and 4MOTION part-time AWD system.

The results are 7.5L/100km, 173g/km of CO2, and 7.7s to 100km/h. Both petrol units require a minimum of 95 RON premium unleaded, and are about 16 per cent more economical than their immediate respective predecessors.

The AWD system is a new fifth-gen Haldex coupling, and allows for off-road functions (including a Snow mode) via a rotary dial.

Spec details for the 162kW/350Nm 162TSI 4Motion have yet to be divulged as this will not be available until the first quarter of next year.

With the 2.0-litre TDI 4Motion turbo-diesel AWDs with seven-speed DSG, there are two choices offered – a 1647kg 110TDI making 110kW between 3500-4000rpm and 340Nm between 1750-3000rpm, and a 1691kg 140TDI, pumping out 140kW and 400Nm (from a higher 1900-3300rpm).

Despite the latter’s stronger outputs, they both average 5.9L/100km and 155g/km of CO2, although there is a 1.4s gap to 100km/h in the 140TDI’s favour (needing 7.9s). Both diesels require AdBlue urea solution to help reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Volkswagen expects that the TDIs will snare about 20 per cent of buyers.

All AWD models have a braked towing capacity of 2500kg. FWD models will account for half of all Tiguan volume.

Options include a Luxury Package in all variants, bringing heated front seats, keyless entry and start, electric tailgate and a sunroof among other items for $5000, a $2250 Driver Assistance Package in Comfortline (and Highline), introducing the Active Information Display boasting a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and Side Assist lane-change assistance for $2000, and the BMW-baiting R-Line for $4000, with 20-inch alloys, sunroof, bodykit, adaptive chassis control (including adaptive dampers), progressive (variable ratio) steering, and ambient lighting. Prestige/metallic paint costs $700.

Service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first.

Key mainstream rivals will include the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Nissan X-Trail, Jeep Cherokee, and Ford Kuga, while the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus NX, Mini Countryman and Infiniti QX30 are also in the Tiguan’s crosshairs.

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan pricing*
110TSI Trendline 2WD$31,990
110TSI Trendline 2WD (a)$34,490
110TSI Comfortline 2WD (a)$36,990
132TSI Comfortline AWD (a)$41,490
110TDI Comfortline AWD (a)$42,990
162TSI Highline AWD (a)$48,490
140TDI Highline AWD (a)$49,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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