Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $44,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 155kW/280Nm 4cyl turbo petrol | 7spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.8 l/100km | tested: 11.0 l/100km
As part of its MY15 Tiguan refresh, Volkswagen Australia added a new flagship to its Tiguan SUV range; one with a healthy dollop of performance.
However, the Tiguan is getting rather long in the tooth these days. The current generation (facelifts notwithstanding) has been around since 2007 and is one of VW’s most antiquated products.
Is a sporty bodykit, more power and a more modern infotainment package enough to revitalise VW’s small SUV, or are the wrinkles getting too deep? We spent a week behind the wheel of the 155TSI R Line to suss it out.
- Dual-zone climate control, powered driver’s seat, heated front seats, power windows, cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps, fatigue detection system, reversing camera, reverse parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers.
- Infotainment: 6.5 inch touchscreen interface with satellite navigation, AM/FM/CD, 30GB onboard music storage drive, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and eight speakers.
- Storage: 395 litres minimum, 1510 litres maximum.
There are no massive changes to things like the dashboard, centre console or the general layout of the Tiguan’s interior, but for 2015 it now comes with a touchscreen infotainment unit standard.
In the 155TSI you also gain satellite navigation along with leather upholstery, four-way adjustable front headrests, aluminium scuff plates with 'R Line' script, heated front seats and a powered driver's seat.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also unique to the 155TSI R Line, and it’s the only model to come equipped with wheel-mounted shift paddles as standard.
It still looks and feels old though. Plastic quality isn’t up to the same standard as the Golf, the nav unit is a generation older than what’s being phased in on new VW models and the circular vents are fiddly and annoying to use.
Accommodation is decent, though it’s not the roomiest in the back. However the front seats are comfortable and the view ahead, to the sides and to the rear is good.
The 155TSI’s standard heated seats and electric driver’s seat are a plus too, and there’s a good range of motion to the tilt/reach adjustable steering column.
The rear bench has adequate leg and foot-room, along with plenty of headroom. The Tiguan isn’t really wide enough for three adults to sit beside each other, but three kids will fit at a pinch.
Face-level air vents on the rear of the centre console will keep backseaters chilled in summer and warm in winter, while a pair of fold-up tray tables give them somewhere to perch their lunch (or colouring books).
Behind is a 395 litre load area, which is on the small side when compared with the Kuga’s 481 load space and the Qashqai’s 430 litre boot.
Folding the 60/40 split rear seatbacks creates a 1510 litre load area, with the rear seats bases neatly articulating down to create a mostly-flat floor. The front passenger seat also folds down to permit long items.
Still got more gear? Roof rails are standard-issue across the Tiguan range.
ON THE ROAD
- 155kW/280Nm 2.0 turbo petrol inline four
- 7-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic, Haldex AWD
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
- Disc brakes, ventilated at front
- Electric power steering
Borrowing its powerplant from the previous Golf GTI and mating it to a Haldex AWD drivetrain means the Tiguan has two things: healthy power and plenty of grip.
And with a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.3 seconds it’s no slouch by SUV standards. It’s two-tenths of a second faster than the Subaru Forester XT, and that car has 22kW more power and 70Nm more torque.
The platform that sits under the Tiguan is quite old by now, but it’s certainly capable around a corner. Not as agile as a GTI by any measure, though turn-in is quite crisp.
As standard, the 155TSI R Line rides on electronically-adjustable dampers, which can be set to one of three modes by the driver: normal, comfort or sport.
Comfort mode is by far the most liveable for daily driving, but even sport mode isn’t too brittle.
The R-Line wears 18-inch alloys clad with Bridgestone Duelers, and ride comfort and road noise are both more than acceptable.
Our only major driveability gripe concerns the DSG gearbox, which, though better than previous iterations of VW’s twin-clutch auto, still suffers from snatchy engagement when crawling through low-speed traffic.
There’s also the issue of its thirst. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the Tiguan 155TSI’s average fuel consumption to dip below 11.0 l/100km.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 34.25 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, electronic differential lock, traction control and stability control come standard on all Tiguans.
Passenger protection is provided by dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags, along with pretensioning front seatbelts. ISOFIX child seat anchorages are provided in each outboard rear seat.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
It’s fractionally smaller than other quasi-performance SUV rivals like the Ford Kuga Titanium 2.0 turbo and Subaru Forester XT, but in terms of price they’re all in the same ballpark.
However, the Tiguan is older than either of them, and it shows once you slip behind the wheel. The R Line goodies help restore some gloss, but there’s no escaping the fact that the Tiguan is a rather old device.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Tiguan 155TSI R Line is a good compromise for SUV buyers who yearn for something a bit more exciting, but require a family wagon with more than a modicum of practicality.
It’s fun to drive, and it’s obvious that it shares a few strands of DNA with the previous-gen Golf GTI.
Set the suspension to 'Sport', pop the DSG into manual mode and go find a challenging road - the Tiguan will entertain you.
But as an SUV, it comes up a little short. It’s a size smaller than similarly-priced rivals and much, much older, plus boot space could stand to be a touch more generous.
Some may be drawn to its sporty looks and features, but those can be had as part of the optional R Line package on the 132TSI and 130TDI if you don’t care about winning the 'stoplight Grand Prix'.
Still, there’s no denying that there’s an element of desirability around the Tiguan 155TSI R Line. There is certainly some appeal in that extra performance.
PRICING (plus on-road costs)
- Tiguan 118TSI - 6-speed manual - $28,990
- Tiguan 118TSI - 6-speed DSG - $31,490
- Tiguan 132TSI - 7-speed DSG - $36,990
- Tiguan 130TDI - 7-speed DSG - $39,990
- Tiguan 155TSI R-Line - 7-speed DSG - $44,990