VW Tiguan: Me likie! Butch and rugged with sparkle and bling.

Tiguan 2012 (15)

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VW Tiguan: Me likie!

The good:

Sweet sweet sweet engine, fab gearbox and clutch, quality interior, smooth ride, auto hold (brake)

The bad: Economy, audio system, auto hold (brake-yes I had a love hate relationship with it)

You know, I’m often given SUV’s to drive and frankly most of them are a trifle disappointing. They are as comfortable as a concrete park bench and handle like half set jellies. They drink like drag queens and parking them is like trying to moor the Queen Mary II, single handed. No, only a few SUV’s haven’t felt truly awful and I found myself reminiscing about the BMW X3 which you’ll remember we liked for all its foibles. It drove more like a car, and quite a good one at that. Tiguan was not quite an X3 but then it costs half as much.

Exterior:

The outside has a quality feel. Yes, the design is conservative, but there isn’t that much you can do with 2 boxes and four wheels. The facelift has brought us the Volkswagen corporate makeover which includes LEDs and chrome and smooth rounded corners and a design language leans heavily towards the middle of the road. It’s this approach that has catapulted Volkswagen to the top of the class and it is now the second biggest car maker in the world.

Each brand under the Volkswagen umbrella has its own particular look, but what VW has been very successful at is using platforms across all brands rather than developing a single use platform for each model. This saves a ton of money and gives certain nuances to every models using that platform. VW uses common fittings, switches, engines, gearboxes and technology. You might postulate that there is no reason to buy more expensive models. For example: why buy and Audi when a Golf has the same engine and platform. The canny buyer probably wouldn’t. A quick check on the interweb showed these models share the same platform:

Before we step inside the Tiguan, I thought I’d take a moment to mention the sacrifice panels. These are those not-very-attractive plastic bits long the bottom edge of most SUV’s. Have you ever wondered what they are for? It’s really a rather brilliant idea from those caring and sharing designer. Would you rather replace a bit of plastic or have your precious duco resprayed? I know I would rather spend a few hundred bucks and a couple of hours of work. You can indulge in a spot of light off roading and you won’t tear you hair out when you see a bit of rough track. Sans the plastic bit, the bottom half of your car would look like it has been gotten at by a million crazed knife-wielding chuckies. Although spare parts are expensive, having a car touched up or completely repainted almost never looks quite right, and costs more than the GPD of a small central African nation, so it just makes sense.

I’d describe the looks as verging on plain but tasteful.

Inside:

The interior is similarly sensible and thoroughly German. There is an efficient use of space with quality materials throughout. Things with doors and lids all shut the way they should without flimsy plastic bits coming away in your hand. The joins match up and there are no nasty jagged bits to catch on your new outfit. This is something I feel most strongly about because the interior fittings are those you’ll look at the most. They have to be pretty, or at least not make you feel thoroughly depressed.

The top models get most of the fab inclusions. but our midrange 132kw model was just right in a Goldilocks kind of way. There were enough of the goodies so as not to feel left out, but not so many that the astute buyer might feel they paid too much. The plakky bit around the radio looks a bit on the cheap side to me, but it is a matter of taste and perhaps others will not notice. I was slightly disappointed not to have auto wipers, auto lights and auto air cond as these often appear in much cheaper cars. It’s available as an add-on pack but for this money I’d insist it be included. Such goodies are now standard across the range in other Vee dub models so watch this space.

The Germans have also laid on lots of cubby holes too. It’s one of those things; you get what you pay for. Volkswagens do cost more, but you do get OCD build quality which cheaper cars scan only match in their dreams. In my opinion the real difference lays in how she drives. You might get your cheaper Korean cars fully pimped but the drive is as dead as John Howard’s political career.

The steering wheel has the familiar corporate button layout so anyone driving a current Volkswagen will feel completely at home stepping into the Tiguan. We had the fabric seats which we quite comfy even after a few hours behind the wheel. When test driving a car for yourself, you should make sure you don’t get numb buns on those long trips. You don’t want to have to stop because your spine has been ruined do you? As with the outside, the cabin is well laid out. Everything is in easy reach and the seats and steering wheel can be adjusted to feel just right. The less tangible is the feel of the controls. They all have a solid feel which is something I look for. It usually means they’ll last longer than the warranty period. There is nothing worse than when your warranty runs out then your car requiring big hugs every time you perform even the simplest of maneuvers I do like the adjustable armrest on the console. It can be pushed back out of the way when you don’t need it. The glove box is big enough for several pairs of gloves. There are other hidey holes but how annoying is it when the glove box is only big enough for the user manual.

The vehicle will likely be used by well-muscled out-doorsy types with flippers, wetsuits and climbing gear so the midrange models have rugged (possibly quick dry) upholstery which I think is better value than leather. You don’t have to be too precious with it either. I’ve never been a great lover of leather especially on car seats. It’s bound to be worn in particular spots and is devilishly hard to look after. It cracks if you don’t lavish time, money and love on it. Not only that but it’s hellishly hot in 40c summer. Have you ever sat on the ubiquitous black leather seat in summer after 3 hours in an Ikea open-air car park? It isn’t something you soon forget or look back on with undiluted pleasure. For some obscure reason it matters when you come to resell your vehicle though as 2ndhand buyers seem to like it. Whilst it won’t earn you extra dollars, a 2nd hand buyer will often be faced with two or 3 choices and you can bet your last shekel that they’ll go for the example festooned with dead cow.

The rear seats easily fold down in a couple of flicks of the wrist forming a flat-ish floor, so you’ll have no trouble with the accessories for your jet-ski. The Nissan Xtrail, Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 have a similar setups and it’s hard to say which is the easiest to use. Seat fiddling is something you must check on your test drive.

On the centre console is the Auto-Hold button. It sits right behind the electric parking brake button which like the rest of the controls, it is where it can be used without having to reach. After a week with the Tiguan I was nearly driven demented by the car applying the auto hold brakes whenever I stopped. When switched on, the car applies auto hold brakes when you stop and only releases then when you accelerate away. You can see the problem. If you snuff the engine as I did on several occasions, the car applies auto hold brakes. You have the turn the key all the way off then with your foot on the foot brake turn the key back again. As with most Euro-cars, this can get you mighty flustered if you forget what you’re driving. You can’t let the Tiguan roll forward either, because the auto hold brake is on. When you reach your destination and you switch the motor off, the car thoughtfully puts the parking brake on for you but this time stays on. Unlike Volvo and Peugeot, the parking brake doesn’t disengage when you step on the gas. Auto hold makes taking off on hills very easy but the rest of the time it’s like trying to tame a 2 year old. It also had the habit of turning itself off. Whether I hit the button accidentally or the car was having a wobbly we shall never know. The point is you shouldn’t rely on it because you might think it’s on but it isn’t and to find yourself up close and personal with the grill of a Rolls Royce.

The Drive:

I turned out of the drive of VW’s flash new Aussie headquarters at Chullora in Sydney, and was almost immediately impressed. SUV’s, especially the small ones, are so dreary on the road. They feel disconnected and remote and as floaty as a Buddhist monk mid-meditation. Tiguan on the other hand feels planted and sturdy at city speeds. Even the tightest of roundabouts worry it little. Since it’s built on a golf platform it has many of the same driving characteristics of our favourite family hatch. The real surprise is that gorgeous turbo 2L petrol engine. What a pearler. Our test car had the delicious 6 speed manual which made the engine feel even better. One of my pet hates is the lag which hangs like an albatross about the necks most turbo engines, but plant your foot and the 132KW is more than enough hutzpah to get you going until the sweet little turbo gives you a boot in the bum. It’s magic, and the power delivery isn’t in one lump either so you don’t take off like a startled gazelle when you least expect it. As for the fuel figures, try as I might I just couldn’t get anywhere near the claimed consumption, but hey-ho. I have a feeling the tests are done in a vacuum chamber going downhill. The clutch and gearbox are as scrumptious as the engine. The clutch is easy to use after a little practice. The gate is notchy enough to let you know where the gears are at all times but no so notchy that you have to be a truckie to manage an easy change. There is a light-but-not-feelingless touch to it so the shifts are effortless. The steering is a trifle light such is the shift in the 21st century. I like a bit of road feel but you can’t have everything in life.

The cabin is delightfully quiet, so you might find the audio system a bit of a letdown. The sound is only just OK but I expected more from Vee dub. The interface is easy to use and the menus a snap to navigate, but the base system feels a little too Dick-Smith for my tastes. A decent subwoofer would get it sorted but in this tightly contested market segment, an oversight like this might see a buyer hunt further east for a purchase.

As I’ve said already, the Tiguan is built on the Golf platform. This pedigree elicits certain expectations handling-wise and to a degree you won’t be disappointed. Most of the time you feel like you’re being cradled in the bosom of a sporty Golf hatch. It’s only when pushed very hard that the higher centre of gravity makes itself felt. It isn’t off-putting by any means by it behoves you to keep it in mind when negotiating a particularly ambitious set of bends. At the end of the day you are not in a low slung convertible, but rather a compact semi-off roader. I say “semi” for two reasons: you’ll never take off road, and, if you did you couldn’t manage much more than a slightly middy track without developing a severe case of nerves.

It is here where the safety stuff is normally mentioned but the gizmos, airbags, ABS and other such things have become so universal that it’s far easier to mention what isn’t present. There is nothing to see here so mover on…

There is an acre of room in the back for the dawgs. I can picture it now: 2 mincing poodles, a couple of dawgs and a picnic basket chockers full of champers and nibbles, all trundling down a country lane on route to a grassy dell just slightly off the beaten track singing off-key to Saint Kylie of Minogue. Happy days!

Conclusion:

I felt really at home in the drivers’ seat. It wasn’t a expensive blancmange to drive and had car-like handling. It had easy-fold seats and thoughtful odds-and-sods bins for your bits and pieces. The gorgeous engine was a thing to behold and with the 6 speed gearbox was a real pleasure to drive. Apart from an options list reading like War and Peace, I can’t really fault the Tiguan. It gives the opposition a genuine run for their money.

Not only would I give this my recommendation, but I would buy one myself with my own spondoola.

VW Tiguan: Me likie!

The good:

Sweet sweet sweet engine, fab gearbox and clutch, quality interior, smooth ride, auto hold (brake)

The bad: Economy, audio system, auto hold (brake-yes I had a love hate relationship with it)

You know, I’m often given SUV’s to drive and frankly most of them are a trifle disappointing. They are as comfortable as a concrete park bench and handle like half set jellies. They drink like drag queens and parking them is like trying to moor the Queen Mary II, single handed. No, only a few SUV’s haven’t felt truly awful and I found myself reminiscing about the BMW X3 which you’ll remember we liked for all its foibles. It drove more like a car, and quite a good one at that. Tiguan was not quite an X3 but then it costs half as much.

Exterior:

The outside has a quality feel. Yes, the design is conservative, but there isn’t that much you can do with 2 boxes and four wheels. The facelift has brought us the Volkswagen corporate makeover which includes LEDs, chrome, smooth rounded corners and a design language leans heavily towards the middle of the road. It’s this approach that has catapulted Volkswagen to the top of the class and it is now the second biggest car maker in the world.

Although each brand under the Volkswagen umbrella has its own particular look, VW has been very successful at is using common platforms across all brands rather than developing a single use platform for each model. This saves a ton of money and gives certain nuances to every models using that platform. VW uses common fittings, switches, engines, gearboxes and technology. You might postulate that there is no reason to buy more expensive models. For example: why buy and Audi when a Golf has the same engine and platform. The canny buyer probably wouldn’t. A quick check on the interweb showed these models share the same platform:

Before we step inside the Tiguan, I thought I’d take a moment to mention the sacrifice panels. These are those not-very-attractive plastic stapled to the bottom edge of most SUV’s. Have you ever wondered what they are for? It’s really a rather brilliant idea from those caring and sharing designer. Would you rather replace a bit of plastic or have your precious duco resprayed? I know I would rather spend a few hundred bucks and a couple of hours of work. You can indulge in a spot of light off roading and you won’t tear you hair out when you see a bit of rough track. Sans the plastic bit, the bottom half of your car would look like it has been gotten at by a million crazed knife-wielding chuckies. Although spare parts are expensive, having a car touched up or completely repainted almost never looks quite right, and costs more than the GPD of a small central African nation, so it just makes sense.

I’d describe the looks as verging on plain but tasteful.

Inside:

The interior is similarly sensible and thoroughly German. There is an efficient use of space with quality materials throughout. Things with doors and lids all shut the way they should without flimsy plastic bits coming away in your hand. The joins match up and there are no nasty jagged bits to catch on your new outfit. This is something I feel most strongly about because the interior fittings are those you’ll look at the most. They have to be pretty, or at least not make you feel thoroughly depressed.

The top models get most of the fab inclusions. but our midrange 132kw model was just right in a Goldilocks kind of way. There were enough of the goodies so as not to feel left out, but not so many that the astute buyer might feel they paid too much. The plakky bit around the radio looks a bit on the cheap side to me, but it is a matter of taste and perhaps others will not notice. I was slightly disappointed not to have auto wipers, auto lights and auto air cond as these often appear in much cheaper cars. It’s available as an add-on pack but for this money I’d insist it be included. Such goodies are now standard across the range in other Vee dub models so watch this space.

The Germans have also laid on lots of cubby holes too. It’s one of those things; you get what you pay for. Volkswagens do cost more, but you do get OCD build quality which cheaper cars scan only match in their dreams. In my opinion the real difference lays in how she drives. You might get your cheaper Korean cars fully pimped but the drive is as dead as John Howard’s political career.

The steering wheel has the familiar corporate button layout so anyone driving a current Volkswagen will feel completely at home stepping into the Tiguan. We had the fabric seats which we quite comfy even after a few hours behind the wheel. When test driving a car for yourself, you should make sure you don’t get numb buns on those long trips. You don’t want to have to stop because your spine has been ruined do you? As with the outside, the cabin is well laid out. Everything is in easy reach and the seats and steering wheel can be adjusted to feel just right. The less tangible is the feel of the controls. They all have a solid feel which is something I look for. It usually means they’ll last longer than the warranty period. There is nothing worse than when your warranty runs out then your car requiring big hugs every time you perform even the simplest of maneuvers I do like the adjustable armrest on the console. It can be pushed back out of the way when you don’t need it. The glove box is big enough for several pairs of gloves. There are other hidey holes but how annoying is it when the glove box is only big enough for the user manual.

The vehicle will likely be used by well-muscled out-doorsy types with flippers, wetsuits and climbing gear so the midrange models have rugged (possibly quick dry) upholstery which I think is better value than leather. You don’t have to be too precious with it either. I’ve never been a great lover of leather especially on car seats. It’s bound to be worn in particular spots and is devilishly hard to look after. It cracks if you don’t lavish time, money and love on it. Not only that but it’s hellishly hot in 40c summer. Have you ever sat on the ubiquitous black leather seat in summer after 3 hours in an Ikea open-air car park? It isn’t something you soon forget or look back on with undiluted pleasure. For some obscure reason it matters when you come to resell your vehicle though as 2ndhand buyers seem to like it. Whilst it won’t earn you extra dollars, a 2nd hand buyer will often be faced with two or 3 choices and you can bet your last shekel that they’ll go for the example festooned with dead cow.

The rear seats easily fold down in a couple of flicks of the wrist forming a flat-ish floor, so you’ll have no trouble with the accessories for your jet-ski. The Nissan Xtrail, Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 have a similar setups and it’s hard to say which is the easiest to use. Seat fiddling is something you must check on your test drive.

On the centre console is the Auto-Hold button. It sits right behind the electric parking brake button which like the rest of the controls, it is where it can be used without having to reach. After a week with the Tiguan I was nearly driven demented by the car applying the auto hold brakes whenever I stopped. When switched on, the car applies auto hold brakes when you stop and only releases then when you accelerate away. You can see the problem. If you snuff the engine as I did on several occasions, the car applies auto hold brakes. You have the turn the key all the way off then with your foot on the foot brake turn the key back again. As with most Euro-cars, this can get you mighty flustered if you forget what you’re driving. You can’t let the Tiguan roll forward either, because the auto hold brake is on. When you reach your destination and you switch the motor off, the car thoughtfully puts the parking brake on for you but this time stays on. Unlike Volvo and Peugeot, the parking brake doesn’t disengage when you step on the gas. Auto hold makes taking off on hills very easy but the rest of the time it’s like trying to tame a 2 year old. It also had the habit of turning itself off. Whether I hit the button accidentally or the car was having a wobbly we shall never know. The point is you shouldn’t rely on it because you might think it’s on but it isn’t and to find yourself up close and personal with the grill of a Rolls Royce.

The Drive:

I turned out of the drive of VW’s flash new Aussie headquarters at Chullora in Sydney, and was almost immediately impressed. SUV’s, especially the small ones, are so dreary on the road. They feel disconnected and remote and as floaty as a Buddhist monk mid-meditation. Tiguan on the other hand feels planted and sturdy at city speeds. Even the tightest of roundabouts worry it little. Since it’s built on a golf platform it has many of the same driving characteristics of our favourite family hatch. The real surprise is that gorgeous turbo 2L petrol engine. What a pearler. Our test car had the delicious 6 speed manual which made the engine feel even better. One of my pet hates is the lag which hangs like an albatross about the necks most turbo engines, but plant your foot and the 132KW is more than enough hutzpah to get you going until the sweet little turbo gives you a boot in the bum. It’s magic, and the power delivery isn’t in one lump either so you don’t take off like a startled gazelle when you least expect it. As for the fuel figures, try as I might I just couldn’t get anywhere near the claimed consumption, but hey-ho. I have a feeling the tests are done in a vacuum chamber going downhill. The clutch and gearbox are as scrumptious as the engine. The clutch is easy to use after a little practice. The gate is notchy enough to let you know where the gears are at all times but no so notchy that you have to be a truckie to manage an easy change. There is a light-but-not-feelingless touch to it so the shifts are effortless. The steering is a trifle light such is the shift in the 21st century. I like a bit of road feel but you can’t have everything in life.

The cabin is delightfully quiet, so you might find the audio system a bit of a letdown. The sound is only just OK but I expected more from Vee dub. The interface is easy to use and the menus a snap to navigate, but the base system feels a little too Dick-Smith for my tastes. A decent subwoofer would get it sorted but in this tightly contested market segment, an oversight like this might see a buyer hunt further east for a purchase.

As I’ve said already, the Tiguan is built on the Golf platform. This pedigree elicits certain expectations handling-wise and to a degree you won’t be disappointed. Most of the time you feel like you’re being cradled in the bosom of a sporty Golf hatch. It’s only when pushed very hard that the higher centre of gravity makes itself felt. It isn’t off-putting by any means by it behoves you to keep it in mind when negotiating a particularly ambitious set of bends. At the end of the day you are not in a low slung convertible, but rather a compact semi-off roader. I say “semi” for two reasons: you’ll never take off road, and, if you did you couldn’t manage much more than a slightly middy track without developing a severe case of nerves.

It is here where the safety stuff is normally mentioned but the gizmos, airbags, ABS and other such things have become so universal that it’s far easier to mention what isn’t present. There is nothing to see here so mover on…

There is an acre of room in the back for the dawgs. I can picture it now: 2 mincing poodles, a couple of dawgs and a picnic basket chockers full of champers and nibbles, all trundling down a country lane on route to a grassy dell just slightly off the beaten track singing off-key to Saint Kylie of Minogue. Happy days!

Conclusion:

I felt really at home in the drivers’ seat. It wasn’t a expensive blancmange to drive and had car-like handling. It had easy-fold seats and thoughtful odds-and-sods bins for your bits and pieces. The gorgeous engine was a thing to behold and with the 6 speed gearbox was a real pleasure to drive. Apart from an options list reading like War and Peace, I can’t really fault the Tiguan. It gives the opposition a genuine run for their money.

Not only would I give this my recommendation, but I would buy one myself with my own spondoola.

Engine

1.4 TSI 118kW

BlueMotion

Technology

2.0 TDI 103kW

BlueMotion

Technology

2.0 TSI 132kW

2.0 TSI 155kW

Type

4 cylinder inline Twincharger direct injection petrol

with engine

Start/Stop system*

4 cylinder inline turbo direct injection diesel

with engine

Start/Stop system*

4 cylinder inline turbo direct injection petrol

4 cylinder inline turbo direct injection petrol

Installation

Front transverse

Front transverse

Front transverse

Front transverse

Cubic capacity, litres/cc

1.4/1390

2.0 / 1968

2.0 / 1984

2.0 / 1984

Bore/stoke, mm

76.5/75.6

81.0 / 95.5

82.5 / 92.8

82.5 / 92.8

Max power, kW @ rpm

118 @ 5800

103 @ 4200

132 @ 4300

155 @ 5300

Max torque, Nm @ rpm

240 @ 1500-4000

320 @ 1750 – 2500

280 @ 1700

280 @ 1700

Compression ratio

10:1

16.5:1

9.6:1

9.6:1

Fuel system

Bosch Motronic direct injection system

Bosch common rail

Bosch Motronic direct injection system

Bosch Motronic direct injection system

Ignition system

Electronic

Compression

Electronic

Electronic

Exhaust emission control

Exhaust gas recirculation, Two 3 way Catalytic Converters with Lambda Probe

Exhaust gas recirculation with oxidising catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter

Exhaust gas recirculation, Two 3 way Catalytic Converters with Lambda Probe

Exhaust gas recirculation, Two 3 way Catalytic Converters with Lambda Probe

Emission level

Euro 5^

Euro 5^

Euro 5^

Euro 5^

Fuel type

(Recommended)

Premium unleaded

95 RON minimum

Diesel

51CZ

Premium unleaded

95 RON minimum

Premium unleaded

95 RON minimum

Transmission

6 Spd Man

6 Spd Man

7 Spd DSG

6 Spd Man

6 Spd Auto

7 Spd DSG

Driven wheels

Front wheel drive

4MOTION

all wheel drive

4MOTION

all wheel drive

4MOTION

all wheel drive

Performance #

0 – 100km/h, seconds

8.9

10.2

10.2

8.3

9.6

7.3

Fuel consumption**

Combined, L / 100km

6.9

6.0

6.2

8.7

8.9

8.8

Urban, L/100km

8.7

7.1

7.1

11.8

11.8

12.0

Extra Urban, L/100km

5.9

5.3

5.7

6.9

7.2

6.9

CO2 emission g/km

162

156

164

204

209

205

Fuel tank capacity, Litres

64

64

64

64

^ Emission level according to European Regulation (EC) No. 715/2007 and Regulation (EC) No. 692/2008.

*The Start/Stop system is designed to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. It achieves this by automatically switching off the engine while the vehicle is stationary and then starting it again automatically when the driver wants to drive off. There are certain operating conditions where the Start/Stop system is deactivated (e.g. during engine warm-up), please refer to the owner’s manual for full operating information.

# Please note figures are sourced from overseas data where equipment levels by model variant may vary.

** Fuel consumption figures according to Australian Design Rule (ADR) 81/02.

The driving style, road and traffic conditions, environmental influences, fitment of accessories and vehicle condition can in practice lead to consumption figures which may differ from those calculated with these standards.

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