Special edition family cars have come a long way. What once were sticker packs with plastic weathershield add-ons have now become more wholesome and holistic, as the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Adventure demonstrates.
Based on the middle-tier Comfortline, the Tiguan 132TSI Adventure adds a requisite tailgate badge on the outside, but there is otherwise not a tacky decal to be found. Instead a whole 10 meaningful features have been added for $2500 extra.
Buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, or a diesel of the same size and configuration, with all-wheel drive standard on both versions.
Volkswagen is obviously aiming to boost the value equation of its medium SUV with this special model, but can the Adventure also venture beyond the competition?
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $43,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 132kW/320Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo petrol | seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.5 l/100km | Tested: 11.7 l/100km
Priced from $43,990 plus on-road costs, or another $2000 for the diesel, the Adventure can be distinguished over the Comfortline by its 18-inch alloy wheels (over 17s), LED headlights (versus halogens) and black cladding around the body.
There’s also keyless auto-entry with push-button start and an electric tailgate added on the outside, plus ‘comfort sport’ front seats with suede/cloth trim, heated front seats, even a driver’s massage function and electrically adjustable lumbar support.
It’s a hefty helping of goodies for the price, though some luxury and safety equipment still remains optional.
Indeed a sunroof costs $2000 extra on the Tiguan 132TSI, while the same amount goes to a Driver Assistance Package with 12.3-inch colour driver display, active cruise control, lane-keep assistance, rear cross-traffic alert and 360-degree camera.
- Standard Equipment: Multi-function trip computer, tri-zone climate control, power windows and mirrors, leather steering wheel and gearshifter, suede/cloth seats with driver massage and front heating, electric tailgate, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, automatic reverse-park assistance, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto on/off wipers and LED headlights.
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, single USB and twin-SD card inputs, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, 10Gb storage, satellite navigation and eight speakers.
- Options Fitted: $2000 Driver Assistance Package (12.3in colour driver display, active cruise control, 360-degree camera, lane-keep assistance and rear cross-traffic alert).
- Cargo Volume: 615 litres (with rear seat moved most forward).
The first-generation Tiguan arrived in 2008 to high acclaim. There wasn’t a great contender in the class then, and the Volkswagen’s space and refinement stood out.
The exception was its 395-litre boot, so this second Tiguan now mixes still-superb rear legroom with a sliding bench, and an enormous 615L cavity behind it.
It’s fitting to start at the rear of the Tiguan simply because that is where this latest model has improved the most.
Its newfound packaging excellence applies to every model grade, such as the front-wheel drive 110TSI Comfortline auto at $36,490 (plus orc), which further scores both the rear air vents and three-zone climate control air-conditioning standard here.
It’s also apt to quickly bring up this model right now, because if you’re a buyer who doesn’t need the offroad-cladding and all-wheel drive of this 132TSI Adventure, a 110TSI Comfortline can be optioned with leather, sunroof, electric driver’s seat, heated front seats, keyless auto-entry and an electric tailgate for $5000 extra.
A buyer still scores a sweet turbo four-cylinder engine, only with 1.4-litre versus 2.0-litre capacity, but the difference isn’t as great as might be imagined because the 110TSI is lighter than the 132TSI. More on that in the next section, though.
The point is, a luxury-kitted 110TSI Comfortline could work better than a 132TSI Adventure for a particular family’s needs.
Up front there is likewise little difference between them. Volkswagen has clearly set out to make a more spacious and rugged Tiguan, but its cabin quality hasn’t quite kept up with the pace of change between first- and second-generations.
Once a leader for plastics and fit-and-finish, the 132TSI Adventure is now eclipsed by the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 3008. The soft-touch surroundings and high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen are good, but the uneven shutline of the dash-top storage lid grates, as do the harsh lower plastics.
There are excellent roof-mounted storage spots that extend to the rear, which are perfect for kids to store iPhones in, plus airline-style flip-down trays. But they are offset by the tiny centre storage box and crimped glovebox. Unlike in a CX-5, there’s no digital radio and no rear USB ports – only a single input up front.
Such omissions start to become more noticeable when the pricetag begins with a ‘4’. Yet detail issues aside, the latest Tiguan now excels in the bigger picture, with a big boot, practical rear seat, acres of space, comfortable seating and competitive kit.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 132kW/320Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, AWD
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front and independent rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
Compared with the 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder in the aforementioned 110TSI Comfortline, the 2.0-litre turbo four in this 132TSI Adventure moves power from 110kW to 132kW, and torque from 250Nm to 320Nm.
Owing to the addition of all-wheel drive and a bigger engine, though, kerb weight also moves up by 150kg to 1600kg, with combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres being 1.2L/100km thirstier than that cheaper model grade.
On the flipside, however, this seven-speed dual-clutch automatic-equipped Tiguan delivers a 7.7-second 0-100km/h claim that is a whole 1.5sec faster.
As ever, this Volkswagen turbo petrol engine is zesty yet refined, and an absolute delight to use whether tootling around town or extending it to redline in the country. The dual-clutch auto isn’t perfect, though, with too much slipping and slurring occurring at low speeds, particularly on hills. However at speed it is an adept partner.
The petrol is also good enough to resist the temptation to spend $2000 more on the diesel dubbed 110TDI Adventure, which drops power to 110kW and performance back to entry-level territory, but with 5.9L/100km consumption. We wouldn’t bother.
If competitors have made ground on the Tiguan’s interior standard over the past decade, then the same is true on the road. This second-gen model remains excellent, but it’s no longer the absolute steering and ride quality benchmark.
Both a CX-5 and 3008 deliver tighter and quicker steering than the merely decent system of the 132TSI Adventure. There’s a bit too much lost motion on centre, and some dull weighting just off it, but it’s certainly better at speed where it feels direct.
Despite rolling on sensibly broad tyres, the ride quality can be surprisingly firm particularly at low speeds over sharp-edged potholes. While it lacks the subtlety a Golf, though, it too gets better at speed where it becomes controlled yet compliant.
Where the Volkswagen is perhaps most improved is in terms of handling. Through tight corners a driver starts to understand why the Tiguan feels firm around town, and that’s because it keeps its tall body mostly flat and clings to grip through bends.
It is a fun SUV, and on one particularly tight and wet hillclimb it deployed its all-wheel drive system and turbo torque to such good effect that a front-wheel drive Golf GTI would have struggled to power from bends in the same conditions.
The downside to the fun, and also size and kerb weight, is thirst. We saw 15.0L/100km around town and that only lowered to 11.8L/100km after freeway and country running – although the tank bias remained urban.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars – the Volkswagen Tiguan scored 36.7 out of 38 points when tested by ANCAP in 2016.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, forward collision alert with low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor with lane-departure warning.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres.
Servicing: Annual or 15,000km servicing comes at an above-average capped-price cost of $417/$606/$641/$1016/$417 for the first five scheduled checks respectively.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
A CR-V VTi-L is superb value and offers brilliant interior quality and space – but it isn’t as good to drive. Conversely the 3008 GT-Line lacks value and performance, but it’s otherwise more supple and fun than this Volkswagen.
With the RAV4 being a rugged, roomy but dated contender, the CX-5 GT is the Tiguan’s greatest challenger. And priced from $44,390 (plus orc) with all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, head-up display, leather, power seats, sunroof and Bose audio – but no auto-park and electric tailgate – it bests the 132TSI Adventure for value overall.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Volkswagen Tiguan has become more pragmatic than ever before, but the 132TSI Adventure isn’t necessarily the pick of the range.
It is great value compared with its all-wheel drive petrol and diesel siblings, offering heaps of equipment for not a whole lot extra cost, however those entry front-wheel drive Tiguan model grades look too good to be beaten.
Forget the performance differences, because a buyer still gets a nice turbo engine, as well as all the space and comfort the new Tiguan is now known for. Tick a Luxury Package, and the 110TSI Comfortline is still cheaper than this 132TSI Adventure.
Either way, though, this latest Volkswagen includes virtues that family car buyers want, with or without frippery, but certainly without anything resembling a tacky decal.
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