Practical, capable and very Volkswagen-like

Solid build The Tiguan is based on the MQB platform that the Audi Q3 is built on as well SMURALIDHAR

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Test_drive

Many of you may not have heard of VW’s mid-size crossover. Here is the low-down on the Tiguan

The technical presentation made by a Volkswagen official before I headed out to test drive the German brand’s latest introduction started out with the correct pronunciation of the vehicle’s name. It is “Tee-guan” said the gentleman, helpfully. Yeah, it did seem a bit pointless for me too at first; after all, the name is not much of a tongue-twister is it.

But, the Tiguan is the Volkswagen model that many haven’t heard about, though it has been quite successful selling over 3.5 million units in about 150 countries. The Tiguan is a crossover built on Volkswagen’s versatile MQB platform (the Audi Q3 is built on it too). It features two-row seating and a sizeable 615-litre boot. The vehicle is in its second generation after being first introduced more than ten years ago. VW India launched it officially recently in two trim variants — Comfortline and Highline — and prices range from about ₹27 lakh to ₹31 lakh.

Design

VW calls the 2017 Tiguan a crossover, but it looks more like an upright sports utility vehicle, except for some elements of its front design like the sedan-style curved bonnet slab. Deep creases and straight lines dominate the rest of its exterior design. The previous generation Tiguan built on the PQ35 platform looked more like the Passat CC. The family design lineage continues in the new 2017 Tiguan and the front still looks like the current generation Passat. But thankfully the rest of the Tiguan is very SUV-like. Horizontal lines and crisp, merging accents enhance the sense of width and upright stance of the Tiguan. The front is dominated by the three-slat chrome-finished bonnet grille, which seems to connect the LED tubes in the headlamps and complements the raised stance of the Tiguan. The large airdam in the front fender with more chrome accents and the active cornering fog lamps complete the front design. The side profile has got even more SUV flavour with big wheel arches, a high waistline and deep cut side shoulder line. At the rear, the tail-lamps also feature the VW signature lines in its slim LED tubes (Highline). The Comfortline trim variant gets regular bulbs but a similar configuration, and also 17-inch alloys, instead of the Highline’s 18-inchers. The chunky rear fender is dual-coloured and features a raised loading lip. The tail-gate itself is easy-open type and also features one-touch auto closing. So, wave your feet under the rear fender and the tail-gate opens automatically; walk away or press one button and it closes by itself too.

Cabin

The Tiguan’s cabin is more Volkswagen-like than the exterior. The nearly all-Black interior features typical VW trim with very trendy geometric theme cutting across the elements of the cabin. The flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the twin-pod instrument cluster are perfect and very driver focused. The centre console is differently put together, but seems so familiar that it looks like a lift from another VW model. Of course, there are switches, knobs and features like the touchscreen infotainment, which look like they are from the same parts bin. Three-zone airconditioning with dedicated rear aircon vents is a first in the Tiguan. Depending on the trim variants, there are other options for the dashboard inlays like titanium silver and matt chrome style metal bits. These trim elements break the monotony of the black interior, but only so much. The cabin is still quite dark, with even the seats being clad in black Vienna leather. The driver’s seat gets electrical adjustments in the top trim; and there is also the nice addition of a panoramic sunroof with an elegant LED light strip illuminating the edge. Fit and finish quality is excellent; soft-touch plastic panels on the dashboard also manage to cut out windscreen glare.

But, the cabin still feels too Volkswagen-like and that means while there will be no reason for complaints, it will also not really blow you away. Space in the cabin is more than adequate. It is definitely a five-seater, so three abreast at the rear seat should be just about comfortable. The boot is spacious and can be increased to 1,655 litres with the rear seats folded.

Performance

The Tiguan is being offered with only one powertrain right now. The refined two-litre diesel engine, which we have also seen in the Skoda Superb, is paired with the new generation seven-speed DSG in the Tiguan. The 1,968 cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged unit generates 143 PS of peak power at 4,000 rpm and a peak torque of 340 Nm between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. This engine is not exactly quiet outside, though noise is well contained in the cabin. Low-end torque availability makes this engine very tractable and usable in both city and highway driving conditions. I would have preferred a taller second gear, but overall the mapping is a good balance. The ARAI rating for the powertrain puts its mileage at 17.06 kmpl.

The DSG transmission is a good match and there is more than one way to enjoy it with the option of stick-activated tiptronic or steering-mounted paddles. There is also the option of a sport-mode. Both the variants of the Tiguan are offered with real-time all-wheel drive. Featuring VW’s own 4MOTION AWD, the system constantly monitors wheel slippage and the need for traction and distributes torque between the front and rear wheels. A mode selector on the centre console allows you to choose between four modes – normal, snow, offroad and offroad individual.

The handling of the Tiguan is another very VW feature and that is a big plus. The steering is precise and fairly well-weighted, though it could do with more feedback. With aids like AWD drive and a balanced suspension, the Tiguan is very sure-footed on the road. High-speed stability is excellent and though there is a bit of body roll, it still lets you take on corners with gusto. Suspension is on the firm side, but big potholes and rough patches are not jarring.

Bottomline

The Tiguan is being offered with a raft of safety features including self-sealing tyres, six airbags and an active hood for pedestrian safety. This is in addition to a stability programme, and other electronic aids like hill-hold and hill-descent control. VW has really tried hard to pack in more into the Tiguan and some of the smaller details include features like foldable seat back tables, LED ambient lighting for the cabin, heated exterior mirrors and auto dimming rear view mirror. Except for LED tail-lamps, the panoramic sunroof, auto tail-gate, self-sealing tyres and some small trim elements, the rest of the features are all standard. One feature missing in the cabin was built-in navigation, but with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, pairing your smartphone to the infotainment system should be easy.

The only complaint about the Tiguan would be the pricing. With a potential on-road price of ₹30-35 lakh, this VW is aiming for luxury segment car buyers, and its wares lack that critical bit of oomph. The Tiguan is still one of the best VWs currently available, and as such can be an extremely practical, well-made SUV in your garage.

Published on June 08, 2017
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