JOHANNESBURG – After sampling the 132 kW Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 2,0 TSI Comfortline 4Motion DSG, we head north to drive the more powerful version. The question is, is the extra grunt really necessary?

Behind the wheel

We ended our initial driving impression of the Allspace with the line: "With the departure of the seven-seat Touran and the popularity of the Tiguan, it makes perfect sense for Volkswagen to introduce the seven-seat version".

And there certainly is a section of the market that prefers to have the option of those additional two pews at the rear. But let’s be honest, they're not really meant for adults, are they? And if (small) adults do indeed venture back there, it should be for short distances only. Still, the Allspace's longer wheelbase means that boot space grows from 368 to a claimed 488 litres, while utility space comes in at a very useful 1 376 litres.

The difference between the 132 kW/320 N.m engine and this model's 162 kW/350 N.m unit is is fairly significant on paper. However, driving it both on the highway as well as in and around Gauteng, it quickly became clear that only when you start to push the Allspace hard (and make use of the entire rev range) do you notice the effects of the additional grunt.

While I didn't have the opportunity to fill all seven seats, the Allspace did at one stage carry three adults. And the vehicle's performance was barely affected.

From behind the wheel, I also never had any feeling that I was driving a vehicle that is longer or heavier than the standard Tiguan. Interestingly, a number of people commented that the SUV was attractive (which is certainly important to some buyers), even with its noticeably elongated body.

Summary

Having driven the 132 kW model as well as the new Touareg within the space of a few weeks, I've come to the following conclusion: Volkswagen has developed the Touareg to compete, even more so than before, with luxurious SUVs bearing more premium badges (just look at its pricing versus that of the Audi Q7), and the Tiguan comes across as a mini-Touareg.

It might not offer quite the same level of interior comfort, luxury or sophistication as its larger sibling, but overall the Tiguan is not only a comfortable SUV, but also one boasting a high level of perceived quality. The Allspace, though, adds what some buyers really need – more space.

Ultimately, it might be wise to opt for the Tiguan Allspace TSI 110 kW Trendline DSG (R463 400) over the 132 kW or 162 kW versions, and spend the cash you save doing so on several of the available options. While it's certainly fun to have 162 kW at your disposal (one colleague described this model as the "family man's GTI"), most buyers of this type of vehicle would appreciate improved fuel economy (and lower pricing) over outright oomph.