The Volkswagen Tiguan first appeared on the Australian market in 2008, which doesn’t seem like too long ago. But in the fast-paced world of automotive updates that may as well be a lifetime ago.
The last generation Tiguan has spanned three generations of Golf (Mark 5, 6, and 7) but now the new Tiguan is as current as you’ll find, utilising the very best of Volkswagen’s available electronics, infotainment, and chassis platforms.
It’s also larger, tailored to family buyers, smoother and quieter. But, in the case of the diesel version we're testing, it's less powerful and more expensive than the model it replaces.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $42,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kW/340Nm 2.0 litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.9 l/100km | Tested: 6.3 l/100km
While it may not be the cheapest of the medium SUVs on offer in Australia, the Volkswagen Tiguan, which starts from $31,990, still offers decent value at the entry level Trendline, although it is only offered at that price with a petrol engine, manual gearbox and front-wheel drive transmission.
If you want an auto, that’ll be extra, as is all wheel drive, and a diesel is more again. On top of that it only comes with the mid-spec Comfortline trim pack making the cheapest diesel (standard with auto and AWD by the way) $11k more expensive than the cheapest petrol model.
While that seems to be the norm amongst mainstream medium SUVs these days, the Tiguan Comfortline goes a little further than most with family-friendly features like a huge roof-mounted storage console, rear seat tray tables, and a boot packed full of sensible storage options.
Those looking for even more can find a more powerful diesel in the Tiguan Highline, with more equipment to boot, but the Comfortline, as unadventurous as it might look from the outside, seems to play a perfect middle-ground.
For buyers that must have a diesel and must have it on a budget an equivalent Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5 is friendlier to the wallet, with the added bonus of extra torque from the Mazda’s gruntier engine. So, can the Tiguan still charm, despite this disadvantage?
- Standard Equipment: Cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, three-zone climate control with rear outlets, colour multi-function display, seatback foldaway tables, roof storage console, chrome roof rails, under-seat storage drawers, Automatic headlights and wipers, front foglamps, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, eight-speaker audio, AM/FM radio, CD player, SD/USB inputs, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity,
- Options Fitted: Driver Assistance Package (360 degree camera, rear cross traffic alert, digital instrument display, folding mirrors, adaptive cruise control) $2250
- Cargo Volume: 520-615 litres with sliding rear seat in place, 1655 litres maximum
The Tiguan’s interior design evolves the themes featured in Volkswagen’s passenger car range, with a slightly more solid look via thick aluminium trim bands and hexagonal air vents dressing up the tall, upright dash.
Volkswagen’s infotainment system isn’t a new one either, having arrived in other models last year, but with simple menu layouts and easy to access shortcut buttons either side of the 8.0-inch touchscreen it's easy to use and understand at a glance and includes features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Opt for the Driver Assistance Package and, as well as extra safety equipment, Volkswagen will also include a 12.3 TFT instrument cluster offering a wealth of customisable displays and information, and the ability to display navigation maps - just like the Virtual Cockpit system offered by Audi.
There’s no shortage of space either. Owners familiar with the previous generation Tiguan will immediately notice the extra space inside as the new model is larger in every direction and with a 77mm longer wheelbase rear seat space grows from acceptable to accommodating.
That rear seat also slides to make more room for cargo if required, and the front seat backs feature aircraft-style trays that can be positioned at an angle to hold a tablet or horizontally to be used as a table, with a slide-out cup holder integrated as well.
Storage space is a number-one priority as well, with deep door bins, seat-side stowage trays in the rear, under-seat trays up front, driver and passenger gloveboxes, and a large (but somewhat unusual) overhead storage console that’s big enough to store a pair of iPad minis.
The seats themselves may look a little flat and firm, but after a long stint behind the wheel there were little complaints, though less conservative buyers may not find much to like about the drab grey-on-black interior. However, with such a highly functional and well crafted interior that’s easy to forgive.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 110kW/340Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front discs
- Steering: Electro-mechanical power steering, 11.5m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2500 braked, 750kg unbraked
Just as the interior is familiar, so to is the driving experience - but that’s no bad thing. Actually that kind of no-surprises motoring should be hugely appealing to anyone looking for comfort and ease of use from their family SUV.
As far as diesel engines go the 110kW and 340Nm outputs from the Tiguan’s 2.0 litre are about average for the class, but buyers looking for more can upgrade to the 140kW/400Nm variant.
In the real world the engine feels calm, quiet, and although it’s not racey it’s certainly adept at moving the Tiguan about in a timely manner.
Linked to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic, gear changes are almost imperceptible once the Tiguan is underway - another hallmark of the Volkswagen experience - though low-speed finesse still needs work, with jerky movements in crucial manoeuvres like reverse parking and three-point turns.
Open-road refinement is a particular strong suit, with barely-there road and wind noise intrusion and only the occasional murmur from the diesel engine when worked hard or pushed beyond its comfort zone around town.
Road contact is via a set of sensibly-sized 215/65 R17 tyres mounted on alloy rims, and though they may not hold the visual appeal of a larger set of rims, the Tiguan Comfortline rides out Australia’s choppy road conditions with a suppleness often missing from other German cars.
Ride comfort doesn’t come at the expense of handling ability either. Though the Tiguan will push into safe and predictable understeer if hurried, it handles most road conditions neutrally, without excessive body roll.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - The Volkswagen Tiguan range scored the maximum available 5 star rating when tested in 2016.
Safety Features: Standard features include seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain, and driver’s knee), pedestrian protecting active bonnet, ABS brakes with brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and multi-collision brake (to prevent secondary accident after a collision), seatbelt pretensioners on all outboard seats, lane-keep assist, semi-automated parking assist, electronic stability control, rear view camera and front city emergency braking.
The optional Driver Assist Package adds adaptive cruise control, 360 degree view camera, lane change assist, and a rear cross traffic alert.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Service intervals for the Tiguan 110TDI are every 12 months or 15,000km with capped price servicing available priced at $351, $541, $608, $967 and $351 respectively for the first five services.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Australia’s most popular SUV, the Mazda CX-5, is ready to be replaced by a new model, but even at the end of its run the CX-5 provides a good mix of urban-friendly exterior dimensions, useable interior space, user-friendly infotainment, and a strong diesel engine.
While it isn’t as polished on the inside, the Toyota RAV4 is more budget friendly and solid enough to deal with a family battering. In lower grade levels additional safety is just an option pack away and is necessary to match the Tiguan’s level of standard safety kit.
Though it may not be as refined as more modern diesel engines (and only by a small margin) the Tucson diesel undercuts the Tiguan on price, but out guns it for power and torque, while still presenting a fresh and modern interior and exterior.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There’s no doubt the Tiguan is a polished package - it shines in almost every area, but in some ways its accomplished nature makes it its own worst enemy.
With much cheaper petrol models available, and the more powerful, better equipped 140TDI Highline diesel a reasonably close reach (at $49,990) the 110TDI Comfortline seems a little out of place and becomes an odd niche for buyers that can’t live without a diesel engine and all wheel drive.
That doesn’t make it a bad vehicle in the slightest. In fact, thanks to its clever storage, family friendly touches, and high level of standard equipment the Tiguan excels where so many mid-range medium SUVs fail to innovate.
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VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Volkswagen Tiguan - Price, Features, and Specifications