Until recently, if you wanted a premium family SUV, you either had the choice of something very large like a Fortuner or something very expensive like the GLA, X1 or Q3. As good as these cars are, most people don’t need the bulky four wheel drive system or the strong ladder frame chassis of SUVs like the Fortuner and Endeavour. They are too big for daily use, weigh a lot and consume a lot of fuel. The entry level SUVs from luxury brands aren’t that practical, or loaded with features and are expensive to use as daily drivers. What you need then, is a compact crossover that gets the luxury features of a German, without losing on the practicality front. Enter the Volkswagen Tiguan.
Internationally, the Tiguan competes with the CRV and X trail, but in India, Volkswagen decided to position it a segment higher. You can get a Jeep Compass or Hyundai Tucson cheaper but they don’t carry the same European flair as this one. The styling is understated and mature like most VWs. The front end looks lower by SUV standards, but the overall design is rather proportionate. The LED headlamps and grille form a great fascia which combined with the two step bumper is, pleasing to the eye. The side with its chiselled shoulder-line can almost pass off as an Audi. The rear has three dimensional LED tail lamps that extend from the shoulder-line and complete a rather squared bootlid. It is a design that is staid and will age well.
The interiors don’t quite get you at first. It is a sea of uninspiring grey plastic and everything looks a bit, too functional. But spend some time and you appreciate how well built and practical they are. There is a weight to the controls and everything feels built to last. The large touchscreen unit is intuitive and comes loaded with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. There are plenty of cubby holes and most of them are felt lined to prevent your stuff from getting scratched. The door pockets can hold big water bottles and you get sizeable storage spaces – on top of the AC events, under the centre armrest, below the headlamp switch and under the front seats. There is a three zone climate control, one for each of the front seats and one for the rear. The front seats are nice and hold you well in corners. The front passenger seat doesn’t get electric adjustments, but can be raised for height. The rear seat gets good headroom and legroom and can be reclined for comfort. It can also be slid forward or folded down altogether to maximize boot space which is already impressive at 615litres. There is no shortage of features and you get keyless entry and push button start, electric parking brake, auto hold, heated seats, heated mirrors, automatic boot open/close, full panoramic sunroof, cruise control, automatic headlamps and wipers, six airbags, ABS, ESC etc.
Under the hood, the Tiguan uses the updated EA288 2.0 litre diesel. For the price, you only get 143bhp, instead of the 177bhp state of tune you get in other VW group offerings. Performance is adequate with 340Nm of torque building up from 1750rpm. 0-100kmph comes up in 9.6 seconds which is respective for a crossover that weighs 1720kg. It feels quite comfortable cruising on the highway with the engine barely ticking over at 100kmph in 7th gear. The DQ500 gearbox is a beefed up version of the earlier 7 speed dual clutch gearbox. It keeps the engine in the meat of the powerband, but at times, it was a bit hesitant to throttle inputs. Overall the engine and gearbox combination leaves no complaints in city driving. The Tiguan uses a Haldex all wheel drive system that splits torque between front and rear wheels depending on road conditions. You can select from various driving modes that optimizes grip, throttle responses and takes care of individual wheel braking to get you out of most situations.
The handling is very benign, which isn’t surprising since the Tiguan is built on the Golf/Jetta platform. Although the steering isn’t very feelsome, it feels very composed in the corners. There is minimal body roll and it feels eager to turn into a corner. Ride quality is equally impressive with the suspension soaking up everything you can throw at it. It does thud on its bump stops on sharp ridges, but never to the point where it gets unsettling. The way it is setup, it makes for a great car for city roads as well as the highways. Brakes are reassuringly good and the 235/55 R18 tyres feel well suited for the Tiguan.
The Tiguan range starts at approximately Rs.35 lakhs on the road, and goes all the way to Rs. 40 lakhs for the variant we tested. High price aside, the Tiguan makes a very good case for itself. It does everything well and is a classier alternative to driving a Fortuner or Endeavour. With good space, adequate performance, good fuel efficiency, great ride and handling, it is all the car you will ever need too. It comes loaded with equipments and is practical for everyday use. It doesn’t have the snob appeal of a BMW X1 or Audi Q3, but for some, that is a big part of its charm.