KWAZULU-NATAL – “The in-laws are coming!” Those may be dreaded words for many reasons of one which is transport. As popular as the midsize SUV market has become as the default family vehicle, most offer only five seats. Therefore, any outing involving the extended family requires two vehicles. This is where the Tiguan Allspace comes in. It adds versatility over the proficient standard Tiguan (which is CAR’s Top 12 Best Buys winner in the midsize SUV segment) without adding much bulk or compromising the agility of the formula. If you want to differentiate your Allspace further, you can opt for two additional styling packages. The Off-road package results in a seven-degree improvement in approach angle and includes an under-body guard; whereas the R-line package involves a lower sport suspension and 20-inch “Suzuka” alloy wheels.

The changes

To add the extra space needed for a useable third row, Volkswagen engineers have stretched the wheelbase by 110 mm and the rear overhang by a further 105 mm, resulting in a 215 mm longer vehicle. Styling-wise, a few touches differentiate the Allspace from its standard sibling, including integrated trapezoidal tailpipes, a more pronounced kick of the shoulder line after the C-pillar, larger windows and a raised bonnet. Overall the larger Tiguan exhibits the same elegant persona that is one of Tiguan’s strongpoints.

The changes to the upmarket interior are mostly focused on the third row. The rearmost seats fold neatly out of the boot floor and provide enough space for kids, but reduce the claimed boot space from 700 L (up 115 L over the standard Tiguan) to 230 L. The second row can slide to offer more legroom if needed. If maximum utility space (1 775 L, according to VW) is required, all the seats bar the driver’s seat can be folded flat. There are tabs in the boot to flip the second row remotely, avoiding the need of walking back and forth around the vehicle. When factoring in the 60:40- and 50:50-split of the last two rows, the Allspace can indeed cater for almost any family transport need.

How does it go?

The driving experience of the Allspace is very similar to that of the standard Tiguan, although you do get the feeling it's a bigger vehicle. I drove the new 132 kW/320 N.m 2,0-litre TSI mated to the slick-shifting seven-speed DSG transmission (the only ‘box option for the Allspace) and the 4Motion all-wheel drive system. It provides smooth and sprightly propulsion without being overly sporty. If this is what you need, rather opt for the 162 kW version. Fuel consumption on the launch in the hills of the Natal Midlands hovered above the 10,0 L/100 km mark which was higher than expected, as the claim is only 7,7 L/100 km. A 110 kW 2,0-litre diesel version is available to lower fuel bills with a claimed consumption of 6,6 L/100 km. The ride over the pot-marked and broken surfaces struck a good balance between pliancy and dynamic ability. In short, the Allspace is still fun to pilot.

Summary

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. It is slightly more expensive than the standard version, but the additional specification plus the versatility of the seating arrangement more than justify the hike in asking price. And it may just help create one happy family on the way to the restaurant with the in-laws…