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VW tests future tech Down Under

Snow joke: If you saw three next-gen Tiguans scaling snowy mountains this week, you were not imagining it, with a small fleet brought to Australia by Volkswagen for systems honing.

Tiguan holidays with engineers in Australia to develop new Volkswagen technology


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7 Jul 2016

VOLKSWAGEN’S next-generation Tiguan is not due to arrive in Australia until September this year, but keen car-spotters in New South Wales and the ACT may have already spied a fleet of the SUVs on local roads this week.

The convoy of three left-hand-drive Tiguans were sent south accompanied by a team of German-based engineers to assess future technology for, not just the company’s new high-rider, but other future passenger models as well, taking advantage of Australia’s unusual environment.

While it is commonplace for some non-native manufacturers including Kia, Hyundai and Mitsubishi to extensively develop new models on red dirt, it is unusual to find a European engineering team this far from their neck of the woods.

Despite the holiday Down Under, Volkswagen says the visit is not the start of more frequent local VW engineering work and, for an unspecified set of reasons, Australia was the suitable location for global testing on this occasion.

“The cars are built in Europe and testing takes place globally. In this instance, the stars aligned.” said Volkswagen Group Australia corporate communications general manager Paul Pottinger.

With the line-up of German cars tested extensively in a range of global environments, the finished product is normally suited to Australia without a vacation here, but VW says the time spent on local turf offers customers even greater confidence in the suitability of the Tiguan for Australia’s, at times, hostile conditions.

The fleet toured areas around Port Macquarie, Armidale, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Canberra testing safety and driver assistance systems, including advanced lane assistance, stop-start traffic systems, emergency braking assistance, automatic headlights and pedestrian detection.

It is likely the German engineering team needed a mid-winter environment to finalise select systems in low light, relatively cool and damp conditions, while the northern hemisphere basks in the middle of summer.

For the current HiLux one-tonner, Toyota conducted 80 per cent of its evaluation in Australia, while Mercedes-Benz has already confirmed it will bring its forthcoming ute Down Under for some of its development.

Kia, Hyundai and Mitsubishi regularly tune chassis and suspension settings for the local Australian market.

The second-generation Tiguan was revealed ahead of last year’s Frankfurt motor show and will hit Australian showrooms in September. It has grown in size considerably and will compete in the mid-size SUV segment as defined by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, instead of the small SUV market where the outgoing model sits.

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