Car review: Volkswagen Tiguan

VW has another winner on its hands with the new Tiguan, says Dr Tony Rimmer.

As doctors, we tend to be practically-minded and this is reflected in our choice of personal and family transport.

The medium-sized hatchback has been a popular choice and Volkswagen’s Golf has been a GP favourite for many years. Solid German engineering combined with a slightly upmarket image has allowed the Golf to remain successful through several successive iterations.

However, over the last eighteen months there has been a steady increase in the popularity of the compact SUV and crossover segment of the market.

The rise of the SUV

Buyers are shunning the standard family hatchback and estate car and are attracted by the greater space and versatility of an SUV. All of them have a higher driving position giving a more commanding view of the road and most of them offer four-wheel drive as an option.

One of the first manufacturers to offer a vehicle in this market sector was Volkswagen itself. Back in 2008 it launched the Tiguan which was based on the Golf Mark 5, had roughly the same amount of space and was similarly priced model for model.

This was pretty forward-thinking for VW and despite a static design, sales increased strongly year on year. In 2015, more were sold than in any previous year and it is now the third best selling Volkswagen in the UK after the Golf and Polo.

Improvements in styling and engineering

So after eight years, we now have a new Tiguan that takes advantage of all the advances in automotive technology that have occurred during its lifetime.

Improvements in styling, engineering, space, safety, performance and economy can only mean good news for the buyer. It is VW’s first SUV to sit on their new advanced MQB platform that has been so impressive in the Golf Mark 7 and Passat models. The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is standard on all but the lowest specification models.

Engine choice is wide with the option of three petrol and four diesel units ranging in power from 115 to 240bhp. There are four trim levels; S, SE, SEL and R-line with other options such as leather upholstery available.

Prices range from £22,510 up to £36,375. In other words, there is a model available to suit every kind of GP buyer.

So what is it like, this new Tiguan and what is it like to drive? Well I was lucky enough to be invited to the UK launch and had the opportunity to drive various models to assess and compare.

Modern and classy appearance

The new car certainly looks better. Benefitting from a longer wheelbase the styling is sharper and gives the Tiguan a modern and classy appearance. Its predecessor had a slightly dumpy look that has thankfully been eradicated.

The interior is pure Volkswagen. High quality plastics and clear fascia design make it a pleasant place to be. Passenger room is definitely improved, particularly in the rear and the bootspace is huge and is now on par with SUVs in the class above like the BMW X5.

In top models, the Active Information Display first seen on Audis gives the option of viewing the Sat-Nav screen straight in-front of the driver giving a real high-tech feel to the driving experience.

Punchy and smooth

The engine most suited to the new Tiguan will also be the biggest seller; the 2.0-litre turbodiesel TDI 150bhp model.

I drove versions of this car with both a manual gearbox and the new 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Despite the whole ‘DieselGate’ VW debacle, this is still an excellent choice of power unit.

Punchy, smooth for a four-cylinder diesel and reasonably quiet, it works best with the DSG box  that smooths out the whole powertrain and is just as economical as the manual.

Although the laws of physics do not allow any SUV to handle as well as a saloon or hatchback, the Tiguan does a pretty good job.

Mild body roll on corners is the only price to pay as the steering remains sharp enough to place it accurately on the turns.

Wind noise is nicely suppressed but the ride, very impressive on other cars using the MQB platform, is a bit firm and can get a little unsettled on rough surfaces. Fortunately, adaptive chassis control is available as an extra cost option on many models.

I am in no doubt that VW has another winner on its hands. The up-to-date chunky appearance, modern technology and classless image will appeal to many GPs looking for a quality compact SUV.

It is just the right size of car to tackle urban practice work and rural practitioners will appreciate its potential off-road capabilities.

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 2.0TDI 4MOTION 150PS DSG

Body Five seat SUV, permanent four-wheel drive
Engine 2.0litre four-cylinder twin turbo-diesel
Power 150 bhp
Torque 340 Nm
Top speed 120mph
Acceleration 0-60mph in 8.7 secs
Economy Realistically 40-45 mpg overall
CO2 emissions 149g/km
On-the-road price £ 32,810

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