Not much has changed but then it didn’t need to…
There is an air of familiarity when driving the upgraded Tiguan 2,0 TSI. Seeing as they are part of the same stable, you could think of this vehicle as a mini-Audi or even a Bentley. It’s all so smooth and refined. Not in an ostentatious way, mind, it merely does everything you expect in a relaxed and eminently comfortable way. We usually receive test cars fully loaded with options and this was no exception. The impressive sunroof, head-up display, Matrix LED headlamps, trailer hitch and adaptive cruise control help versatility. The optional Harmon-Kardon audio system is something worth budgeting for. Also fitted was a set of oversized Suzuka 20-inch wheels. These large wheels are great for looks and handling but almost always negatively affect the ride quality.
In the Tiguan’s case, we were pleasantly surprised at how well the car handled the ever-increasing number of speed bumps or, to use the official title, traffic calming devices. This makes us wonder how much more impressive the ride would be on the standard wheels, a set of 17-inchers. Going up on spec levels, options move on to 18 and then 19-inchers. All of these wheels are driven and part of the 4Motion is the Active Control Drive program that uses a variety of throttle and gear shifting control with the use of the ABS braking to provide a choice of Snow, Freeway, Off-road adventure and Off-road customised options.
The DSG gearbox is among the best and has stood the test of time. There is a brief hesitation on swift pull-away so our sprint times were a touch slower than usual. The stop-start function also takes a short while to crank the engine to life, so best switch this off when negotiating traffic. Ratio swaps are suitably quick for a semi-sporting experience. Coupled with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, it ensures this SUV doubles as a driver’s car. This is all part of the R-Line package. Trust VW to make sure you won’t be left up the creek without a paddle-shifter. NVH levels are very low and the Tiguan 2,0 TSI runs whisper quiet on all but the worst of surfaces. Steering is rather light, as we also find on Audis but the general feel is fine.
Haptic touch buttons are used for controls such as temperature adjustment and audio volume. These are never as easy to use as rotary knobs but work well enough. To adjust the volume control on the steering wheel, slide a finger left or right and it works impressively well. A common problem in right-hand drive countries is that the physical screen buttons are positioned on the left of the screen, requiring a stretch of your left arm.
The rear space is fine and the boot is large enough for most families although the sill is rather high. The rear seat is split 60:40 and does slide to adjust the balance between legroom and luggage space. The travel is small, however, and rear legroom is cramped in the forward position. Rear backrest rake is also adjustable. Apart from a fold-down armrest, a ski-flap enables stowage of lengthier items without collapsing the seatback. Rear passengers have temperature adjustment on the central air vent and a 12V socket. In front, dual USB-C charging points are supplied. Another 12 V outlet is located in the boot for running a cooler box or the like and the backrests can be flattened by pulling levers. Our test unit had the optional tow hitch with a combination mechanical/electronic foldaway function and costs R9 300.
A significant challenge in enjoying a sunroof and having a large central touch screen is that the sun can reflect into your eyes. Can’t have everything. A full-length screen is retractable for the panoramic glass roof section plus the opening part. The full sunroof package is R16 000, which is well worth the price. On a 275 km round trip in the countryside, we noticed the fuel consumption fell steadily, eventually to well below 9L/100 km. This shows that the four-wheel-drive setup adds drag to the powertrain in the usual commuting role but once on the go with limited slowing and accelerating, the Tiguan’s efficiency is impressive, making it a great vehicle for longer trips. Whether you need the 4Motion in this country remains debatable as we have little snow and ice on our roads and not many would venture on mountainous areas in their Tiguan 2,0 TSI. Just two matters disappoint: the radio reception on AM was variably poor and the air-conditioning took too long to cool the interior down. Definitely not a car manufactured in a hot climate country.
The Tiguan has been a Top 12 winner and deservedly so. It is an all-round SUV that does nearly everything extremely well. It looks great, has an impressive powertrain with the torque of the turbo engine and slick DSG gearbox, resulting in a proper driver’s car. If the budget is constrained, the 1,4 TSI will do nicely and save around R100 000 or more. Low NVH levels and lots of comfort options lead us to question why anyone would need to spend more on anything fancier?
Model: Volkswagen Tiguan 2,0 TSI 4Motion DSG
Price: R710 000
0-100 km/h: 7,47 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Power: 162 kW
Torque: 350 N.m
CAR Fuel index: 9,96 L/100km
CO₂: 189 g/km
Service Plan: 5 years/90 000 km
Warranty: 3 years/120 000 km
USED OPTION (<2 yrs)
Audi Q5 Quattro. A step up, this car offers even more refinement. Mileages should be below 30 000 km and almost all available have the 2,0 TDI engine.
VW Tiguan 2,0 TSI 4Motion DSG
A variation on an already good theme, the Tiguan is sportier in nature than the others, an intoxicating blend of class and fun.
Toyota RAV4 2,5 AWD VX
Much more refined than previous RAVs, this one impresses with its quality. The conventional auto ‘box may not be as much fun as VW’s DSG but it will need less maintenance.
Kia Sportage 2,0 CRDi EX AWD
The Sportage has a fairly lengthy heritage, starting its model life with even a low-range transfer case. It, too, is a good seller with quality and comfort.