From expressways to urban backstreets, the Volkswagen Tiguan gets you there and back with panache

It is hard to believe this is the new Tiguan as it looks and feels very different from the previous version. The facelifted Tiguan is proving very popular in Singapore, so Volkswagen has introduced three variants — two 1.4- litre Tiguans and a top-of-the-range two- litre version. I was handed the keys to the latter model for a two-day test drive to get better acquainted with the new Tiguan.

Sports utility vehicles are big sellers across the world and Singapore is no different. Volkswagen, as the parent company of Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley, has arguably the widest offering of SUVs among all car makers. It shares technology and parts across these brands seamlessly. The platform that supports the new Tiguan is also used for the VW Golf, Sportsvan and Passat Mk8. With this platform, the Tiguan is now wider and longer than its predecessor.

The two-litre Tiguan is powered by a turbocharged engine that delivers 217bhp and sends 350Nm of torque to all four tyres. The Tiguan actually shares the same engine as the Mk7 Golf GTI, which gives you an idea of what it is capable of. But, of course, the Tiguan is much heavier — by almost 500kg. Despite this extra bulk, it still packs a punch in any driving mode. This is not solely because of the engine; the 4Motion all-wheel drive system and seven- speed dual clutch transmission help too.

This winning combination delivers power evenly and crisply in practically all driving conditions, from the expressway through to urban backstreets. If numbers are your thing, the Tiguan gets from a standing start to 100kph in just 6.5 seconds. That beats the Porsche Macan by 0.4 seconds. On open roads, it gives you the confidence to move onto the fast lane and stay there. For urban driving, it is as easy to weave in and out of lanes as a much smaller car.

While the ride impresses, so, too, does the appearance of the facelifted Tiguan. With many new models, it is hard to spot the changes as they can be very subtle or even unnecessary. Not so with the new Tiguan. One of the main upgrades is a new radiator grille with big horizontally aligned headlights, giving the SUV a more menacing and bold profile. This was evident from the respect I got on the roads, as cars gave me room to cruise onto their lanes, whereas a smaller and less athletic-looking car would have been blocked.

The interior of this SUV is as impressive as the outside. The first thing you notice inside the cabin is the shiny digital instrument panel with full satellite navigation map graphics. The dashboard reminds me of Audi’s “virtual cockpit”, one of my favourite cabin designs. Everything is easy to use and all the materials have a premium feel to them. But let us not forget this is hardly an entry-level model. The top-of-the-range Tiguan R-Line 380 TSi is priced at $192,400, which is pricey in terms of VWs.

The new Tiguan has definitely been pimped up in terms of gadgets and electronic wizardry, including a smart electric tailgate function. You can either hit the easy close button, or simply walk away from the car with the key fob.

This new model has also been equipped with an “area view” camera system that provides drivers a 360- degree view around the car. It comes courtesy of cameras dotted around the front, rear and under the wing mirrors. This is definitely one of the smartest and tech-savvy cars in the mid-range bracket. Another welcome addition is the fold-down tray tables — always handy when you are driving kids who need a snack or Happy Meal on the go.

The Tiguan also impresses with its space: It has a 470-litre boot and lots of room for five passengers. The seats fold up quickly and easily, increasing boot space. With its price tag, you get more bang for your buck: A handsome SUV laden with tech nology and an engine that will always deliver enough power for Singapore roads. As well as Volkswagen’s Dynaudio sound system, there is also the old-school DVD/ CD player for traditionalists.

VW’s luxury brands such as Audi, Bentley and Porsche all have their own top-selling SUVs. The Tiguan definitely has something to aspire towards. The danger is that this new Tiguan has increased its premium qualities so markedly that it may soon be competing for the same group of buyers. While that might prove to be a headache for VW, it can only be a good thing for Singapore’s drivers. A luxurious SUV at under $200,000 is welcome news.

VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN
2.0 $191,400 including COE
Engine: 1,984cc, four-cylinder in-line,
16-valve, turbocharged
Power/torque: 217bhp/350Nm
Fuel consumption: 8 litres/100km
0 to 100kph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 220kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast

This article appeared in Issue 790 (July 31) of The Edge Singapore.