20 Nov 2018

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI R-Line 2018 new car review

A mix of sporty character and family practicality
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Like the caterpillar that transformed into a butterfly, only in the opposite direction, the hot hatch that morphed into an SUV is nothing new.

But rarely has such a conversion extended to a seven-seater, at least until now with the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI R-Line.

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Indeed, the length of its name is about in proportion to its design, which is akin to buying lots of different ingredients and bringing them all together. The Tiguan part denotes a relation to the -seat medium SUV, Allspace signals a third row of seats, 162TSI a Golf GTI engine, and R-Line an (extra cost) bodykit. This is, therefore, the plus-sized model of medium SUVs.

Yet this range flagship is priced to compete with middle model grades of large SUVs. It’s smaller than them, but offers more kit, faster performance and, maybe, hot-hatch dynamics.

For within cooee of its $53K-plus pricetag, it really has few rivals.

Vehicle Style: Medium SUV

Price: $52,990 plus on-road costs

Engine/trans: 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo 4cyl | seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.3 l/100km Tested: 10.5 l/100km

OVERVIEW

This $52,990 plus-on-road-costs Allspace nabs a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder borrowed from the outgoing, pre-facelift Volkswagen Golf GTI, with 350Nm of torque produced between 1600rpm and 4200rpm, then, 100rpm later, 162kW of power made from 4300rpm until 6200rpm. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic-equipped all-wheel drive 162TSI shifts its 1769kg mass – 417kg (!) heavier than the front-drive GTI – from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 6.8 seconds, three-tenths slower than the traction-limited hot hatch.

But what else manages those figures while seating seven in (a yet-to-be-determined degree of) comfort? Well, none of the smaller Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail seven seaters bother with anything beyond average power.

So, then, the closest price-point challengers are petrol V6-powered, including the slightly larger 206kW/336Nm Kia Sorento and much bigger 231kW/367Nm Holden Acadia, the latter of which ousts its Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Kluger rivals for power.

And, finally, taking a left-of-field approach, the 213kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-four Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 213 SE costs a hefty $70,858 (plus orc). But it isn’t available with the optional 5+2 seating of the slower diesels, so five seats will have to do there.

THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5/5

Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry with push-button start and electric-folding door mirrors, automatic on/off wipers and LED headlights, auto-adaptive high-beam, electric tailgate, tri-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats, heated front and outboard-middle seats, and power windows/mirrors.

Infotainment: 9.2-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, USB/SD inputs, 10Gb storage, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, satellite navigation and eight speakers.

Options Fitted: $3000 Sound and Vision Package (12.3in colour driver display, 360-degree camera and 16-speaker/400-watt Dynaudio sound system), and $2900 R-Line Package (sports bodykit, rear tailgate spoiler, 20in alloy wheels, variable-ratio sports steering, sports steering wheel, black rooflining, stainless steel scuff plates and pedals).

Cargo Volume: 230-700 litres.

The Tiguan Allspace kicks off from $40,490 (plus orc) for a slower, but still sweet, front-wheel drive model grade dubbed the 110TSI Comfortline. Yet even for that pricetag there’s still plenty of equipment including keyless auto-entry with push-button start, automatic on/off wipers and LED headlights, an electric tailgate, plus tri-zone climate control air-conditioning.

Beyond the vast extra power and traction delivered by this 162TSI Highline for its hefty $12,500 charge, plus its newly added adaptive suspension, this model grade does feature other extras. These include a blind-spot monitor, auto-adaptive highbeam, adaptive cruise control, 9.2-inch (from 8.0in) touchscreen with 10Gb hard drive and SD input, leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats, and heated front/middle-outboard seats.

That’s pretty decent, and it makes the extra-cost packages fitted to our test car (see above, Options Fitted) seem excessive. For example, $5900 for a Transformers-tough R-Line bodykit, bigger 20-inch (up from 19in) alloy wheels, a colour driver display, premo-audio, and 360-degree camera doesn’t look like value for now-$58,890 (plus orc).

At least the 162TSI R-Line’s beefy exterior is matched by a dark and moody interior that feels a cut above that of the 110TSI Comfortline, brightened significantly by that high-resolution centre screen and driver display. That said, some of the lower trim plastics start to look a bit cheap for this pricetag, while otherwise, about the only thing we could wish for is a digital radio, which is unavailable, and a panoramic sunroof, which costs $2000 extra.

Ah, but the sunroof deletes the multiple overhead storage pockets that extend back to the middle row and prove perfect for kids wanting to store smartphones, if not tablets. But it’s especially important that they’re retained, given the tiny console bin and glovebox up front.

Meanwhile, the front seats aren’t changed, and although they are a fraction flat for a sporty model grade, they’re certainly cushy enough. The sliding middle row is of a similar standard to the driver and passenger chairs, as well, and they tip-then-slide forward easily enough to make for good entry and egress to the third row. The exception is that the 40 per cent part of the 60:40 split-fold backrest and bench, which is easier to move, is placed on the driver’s side – perfect for left-hand drive markets, but not here where kids hop in from the passenger side.

This is also not a full-sized seven seater, so the back-row chairs are ideal for pre-teenage kids who haven’t yet hit around 178cm tall – by which stage their heads will be planted against the roof, and legs crimped. There are also no air vents right back there, unlike a Sorento, though curtain airbag coverage extends there, unlike that Kia.

The boot fares better, with its 230-litre 7-seat capacity extending to 700L with the third-row folded. That’s about par with a Sorento, if not some of the larger seven seaters. Think of this more as a ‘5+2’ hot hatch, though, and it fits the brief well.

ON THE ROAD | RATING: 4.0/5

Engine: 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol 4cyl.

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, AWD.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front and independent rear.

Brakes: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes.

Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering.

Having swapped out of a 110TSI Comfortline, all cushy single-setting suspension with sensible 18-inch tyres, and into this 162TSI R-Line, all three-mode adaptive suspension complexity with 20in tyres, instant differences can be drawn.

The pricier and sportier Allspace immediately feels more tense, even in Comfort mode (there’s also Normal or Sport), with the larger alloy rims and lower-profile tyres making their presence felt via extra road noise and a jiggle here, a bobble there. In isolation, ride quality is a top Tiguan strength – it still offers level progress and terrific discipline, just not plushness.

Also obvious, in a positive sense, is the improved steering. Optioning the R-Line package brings with it quicker, sharper steering, but it also tightens up the slightly vacant on-centre patch and vague feel of the entry-level model grade.

It feels nice and tight now, which gels ideally with the 162TSI part of the equation. This Golf GTI engine feels spirited rather than sterling, obviously dulled by the near-half-tonne of extra kerb weight heaved in by a much bigger body and the addition of all-wheel drive. Forget any expectation that this is a big hot hatch, though, and the performance is ultimately more impressive than the larger, V6-powered competition.

Bring the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with paddleshifters into the frame, and thanks to the assured traction of all-wheel drive, a driver can also use up more of what the relatively little engine has to give coming out of corners. Volkswagen’s medium SUV sits flat, it hunkers down, and feels balanced without quite evoking words like ‘agile’ or ‘sharp’.

It’s a mid-SUV seven-seat express, loaded with equipment and a decent amount of space. But it also drinks hard around town, where we saw beyond 12.0 litres per 100 kilometres, and which only lowered to a very credible 10.5L/100km after extended freeway driving.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5 stars – this model scored 36.6 out of 38 possible points when tested by Euro NCAP in 2016.

Safety Features: Seven airbags, ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitor, reverse-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/unlimited km (five years/unlimited km until December 31)

Servicing: With annual or 15,000km intervals, Volkswagen’s capped-price servicing plan can be purchased for an up-front $1304 to three years or 45,000km, or $2246 to five years of 75,000km.

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The Acadia LTZ is big, brash, plush and powerful, but the new kid on the block also doesn’t pretend to be slick or sporty – it is, however, excellent value for around 162TSI money. Choose the Sorento SLi for brisk performance and a low cost of entry – we’re talking $45K-plus – as well as superb interior quality and enjoyable dynamics, but as per the Holden, it obviously feels larger and is harder to park. If you can live without seven seats, and have another $15K-plus to spend, the Discovery Sport is extremely popular and the Si4 213 SE delivers the best engine and strongest performance of the lot – but if you want a third-row, the slower diesel will have to do…

 

  • Holden Acadia LTZ
  • Kia Sorento SLi
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 213 SE

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 4.0/5

The Tiguan Allspace 162TSI R-Line delivers the sort of broad character anticipated by its long name, and expected by its hefty pricetag.

It successfully mixes the sporting (as opposed to properly sporty) driving characteristics of the Tiguan, with the packaging of the Allspace, and some of the Golf GTI’s performance. The standard 162TSI Highline is, however, more impressive than this expensive R-Line pack – if only we could nab its superior steering individually, though.

Arguably, too, the entry-level 110TSI Comfortline remains the pick of the bunch because it combines healthy kit, a lighter body, greater efficiency and sweeter ride comfort, all for less.

Either way, though, either Tiguan Allspace remains a tempting proposition for smaller families who occasionally need a couple of extra chairs. Simply choose your performance…

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