2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Review Photo:
Ian Crawford | Oct, 12 2011 | 14 Comments


Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price Range: $28,490 - $42,990
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.7 l/100km



When you study the menu of cars on the Australian market, the booming compact SUV segment offers a smorgasbord of choice.

Just consider the alphabetical list of players: Chery, Ford Escape, Great Wall, Holden Captiva, Honda CR-V, Hyundai ix35, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi’s ASX and Outlander, Nissan’s Dualis and X-Trail, Renault Koleos, Skoda Octavia Scout, Ssangyong’s Korando and Actyon, Subaru’s Forester and Outback, Suzuki’s Jimny and Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4, and last but not least, Volkswagen’s Tiguan.


Although a relatively recent entrant into this highly-competitive segment, the big VW Touareg’s little brother, the Golf-based Tiguan, has already built a reputation as a quality soft-roader. In fact, the Tiguan is VW Australia’s third biggest-selling model after the Golf and Polo.

The just-released 2012 version will do nothing to diminish its standing and sales success.

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While the 2012 model has been annointed with Volkswagen’s frontal grille and headlight treatment and new-look tail-lights, there is a new front-wheel-drive model, upgraded engines, clever new technology and fuel-consumption and emissions reductions of up to 7.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively.

There is new seat trim and Volkswagen's new steering wheel style, but the already-classy Tiguan interior has otherwise remained the same as the outgoing models.

Four engines are on offer - three petrol engines and a turbo-diesel - and prices range from $28,490 to $42,990.


Interior and features

All the new Tiguan SUVs now come standard with daytime driving lights, six airbags (front, front side and curtain airbags), safety-optimised front head restraints ABS brakes, an auto-hold function, brake-assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Also on the safety-kit menu are anti-slip regulation, an electronic differential lock, electronic stability program and engine braking control.

With the exception of the top-spec petrol-powered 155TSl, all Tiguan models ride on 16-inch alloy wheels and come equipped with air conditioning, an AM/FM security-coded radio) with an MP3-compatible CD player, Bluetooth phone connectivity as well as a centre-console-mounted media device interface that comes with a USB connection cable.

The 155TSI adds sporty 17-inch alloys, dual-zone automatic climate control, a fancier touch-screen audio system with MP3, automatic rain-s sensing wipers and rear parking- distance system with optical parking sensors as standard.

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The range-topper also adds extra chrome highlights, tinted glass from the B-pillar back, sports seats, front fog lights and sports suspension.

For buyers who want one with the lot, they can add options such as VW’s “park-assist 2", an excellent adaptive chassis-control system and the RNS510 satellite-navigation system.

There’s also a $4000 leather package that adds to the luxury as well as price.

The five-door, five-seat Tiguan has a 60:40 split-fold rear bench seat that can be adjusted forwards and backwards by up to 16cm and also reclined. Cargo capacity ranges from 395 to 1510litres.


The drive

The new Tiguan’s petrol engines are the sensational twin-charged 118kW/240Nm 1.4litre TSI, a 132kW two-litre TSI and the top-spec 155kW two-litre TSI that boasts 280Nm of torque.

The two-litre TDI engine is good for 103kW of peak power and a combined fuel- consumption figure of just 6.0litres/100 km when mated with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Initially the front-wheel-drive 1.4litre TSI is a six-speed-manual-only model but a DSG transmission will become available next year.

The rest of the pack – the 103TDI, 132TSI and the 155TSI – run Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.

Buyers of the 103TDI can choose between a six-speed manual or the seven-speed DSG, the 132TSI gives buyers the same transmission choices, while the 155TSI is a seven-speed DSG-only model.

To enhance their fuel efficiency and exhaust cleanliness, both the front-wheel-drive 103TDI and the 118TSI versions use VW’s BlueMotion technology that includes a start/stop system and brake-energy recuperation.

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The 103TDI DSG model also comes with a new coasting function that kicks in when you lift your foot on the throttle while driving. The engine is declutched instantly; the result is less fuel use and reduced emissions.

As with all the latest Volkswagen offerings, being behind the wheel of a Tiguan is a rewarding driving experience. It's a very well-rounded and versatile performer.

The seats and ergonomics are just right. Even for larger-framed drivers, the seat adjustment and height- and reach-adjustable steering combine beautifully for the perfect driving position.

The suspension settings work a treat with the electro-mechanical power steering. Even when pushed hard through corners, the Tiguan sits flatter and without the body roll found in some of its competitors.

The smallest Tiguan engine – the twin-charge 1.4 litre petrol unit – continues to amaze with its performance, but the two-litre turbo-diesel with its wonderful torque delivery and fuel efficiency is the pick of the bunch.

That said, it’s also hard to overlook the top-spec 155kW petrol engine and the 7.3 seconds sprint time to 100km/h it delivers.

Both on-road, and for lighter off-road forays (where it's not half-bad), the Tiguan has more than its share of capability for a compact SUV. The space-saver spare however is a bit of a letdown for Australian conditions.


TMR Verdict | Overall

In summary, VW’s compact SUV - the updated Tiguan – is competitively priced, drives exceptionally well, and is a capable and enjoyable all-rounder.

It is certainly one of the better buys in the compact segment. Its big brother, the new Touareg, will be proud to have the little fella in the family.



2012 Tiguan 118TSI - 6-Speed Manual - $28,490
2012 Tiguan 132TSI - 6-Speed Manual - $33,490
2012 Tiguan 132TSI - 7-Speed DSG - $35,990
2012 Tiguan 103TDI - 6-Speed Manual - $35,990
2012 Tiguan 103TDI - 7-Speed DSG - $38,490
2012 Tiguan 155TSI - 7-Speed DSG - $42,990

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

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