The Tiguan is the perfect vehicle for the confident and intelligent car owner who does not need (or want) a flashy headturner to reaffirm his status on the road. Who cares about the razzle-dazzle? A Tiguan driver knows that what really matters is long-term value.
- Timeless look
- German engineering
- User-configurable options
- Good price point
- Acceleration lag
- No rear camera for parking assist
- Side mirrors are not power-folding
I have always been partial to SUVs mainly because my everyday commute requires me to go wheel-to-wheel against buses and trucks on EDSA, and sitting tall behind a solidly-built SUV makes me feel safer and less intimidated. So, when Volkswagen sent over a Tiguan test drive unit, I was eager to see how this German newcomer stacked up.
DESIGN – 4.0 / 5.0
No matter how you spin it, the Tiguan is, let’s face it, conservative and sedate, particularly when compared to the flamboyant styling of its Korean and Japanese competitors. Apparently, this minimalist styling is deliberate, and rooted in Volkswagen’s design philosophy to produce vehicles that are timeless and, therefore, retain their brand worth longer for higher resale value.
“It [design] can’t be only for one or two seasons. There is a certain security in our designs. When you know that it keeps it resale value, it’s important for a family. That’s our intention,” VW global design chief Walter de Silva explained in a 2012 interview. He also noted that the fad for overdesign was growing stale.
So, there. Despite the initial impression, I get the style rationale and agree that this is a vehicle that will keep its looks five, ten years down the road. Given this framework, the Tiguan deserves high marks for its clean, classic appeal. It’s NEVER going to be out of style.
HARDWARE – 4.0 / 5.0
While the Tiguan is outwardly simple, the engineers at Volkswagen packed quite a lot of technology in this compact SUV, enough to make my techie heart beat faster.
It is powered by a 2.0-liter TDI (turbo direct injection) diesel engine that has a maximum output of 140Ps@4200rpm and torque of up to 320Nm@1750rpm, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and VW’s 4Motion permanent four-wheel drivetrain. When revving from a full stop, I noticed a bit of an acceleration lag, and it seemed to me that I needed to have a heavier foot on the pedal to get the Tiguan up to speed. I wonder if a DSG gearbox would have made a difference?
Also, while overall NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) were minimal in the Tiguan, the engine has a distinctive growl, both while idling and at speed. In comparison, the Touran, which is fitted with a similar 2.0 TDI engine but with DSG transmission, had virtually no engine noise. Is the Tiguan tuned to be deliberately noisier for a more sporty feel?
In any case, the overall driving experience is excellent in the Tiguan, with very minimal body roll and vibration, thanks to stabilizer bars on both the front strut and rear multi-link suspensions. Speed-sensing power steering gives it the agility to weave through traffic or make tight U-turns, while providing solid grip at highway speeds.
Safety features abound, starting with an electronic stabilization program (ESP) that helps “keep the vehicle on course in critical driving situations,” 6 airbags, an alarm system, as well as electronic parking brake with hill hold.
The infotainment system is the standard RCD310 head unit with a multi-device interface and 8 speakers. While the RCD310 is adequate, I wish VW would offer an upgrade option to a large screen display with rear camera/parking assist integration.
USER EXPERIENCE – 4.0 / 5.0
One of the things that caught my eye about the Tiguan is the extra strip of rubber on its doors—a small, insignificant detail, but such an important indicator of its build quality. This strip ensures that there is no metal-to-metal contact, so you hear a solid thud instead of a clang when you pull the door shut. It guards against annoying body squeaks and rattles when in motion, particularly over rough patches. It insulates against road noise, and helps with climate control.
I thoroughly enjoyed the keyless Push-Start system, as it allowed me to get in, drive, park, and lock the Tiguan, without having to dive into my purse for the car keys. I also appreciated the convenience of having auto-headlights on, daytime running lights, static cornering lights, and leaving/coming home lights. There are a host of settings that you can configure on the multi-function display according to your personal preferences, all easily accessible via the integrated steering wheel controls.
I like being in a cool car, but I hate having cold gusts hitting my face or my hands so I relished the Tiguan’s round aircon vents that are 360o-adjustable, which means you can set the vents to your desired direction/angle. Again, another small detail that matters when you are behind the wheel.
The Tiguan has storage spaces all over, including drawers under the front seats and an overhead storage compartment. The glove box is lockable and can be cooled. The luggage compartment has a folding cover and the rear seats can be folded for additional cargo space.
VALUE – 4.5 / 5.0
Considering its niche, I personally feel the Tiguan could be spec’d up a bit more, with a corresponding price adjustment, without sacrificing its value for money proposition. In fact, at that price level, there are certain extras that one expects to come as standard and, therefore, become as source of disappointment when they are not. A couple of things I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for would be power folding side mirrors and a rear-camera optical parking system.
At first glance, the PHP 2,109,000 sticker price for the Tiguan 2.0 TDI AT Sport & Style variant may be a bit steep as there are other, more affordable, and better-looking compact SUVs in the market. But when matched against competitors like the Audi Q3 (PHP3.39M) with which it shares basically the same engine and platform, or the BMW X1 (PHP2.99M to PHP3.89M), the Tiguan definitely wins the price war.
First published in GADGETS Magazine, April 2014.