Right. So it’s another one of those ‘small-engine with a huge hunka-dunka amount of power’ type deals again. They’re out to get me folks, I swear… I’d just gotten over the my misplaced loathsome abhorrence for the amazing little pocket-rocket VW Vento 1.2 a couple of test-drives ago, when ‘lo and behold, along comes the new Tiguan. Does it have a 5.0-litre V8 I asked? No, of course it doesn’t. Sigh, I was missing the VW Toureg 5.0 V10 TDI already…
Instead of the gargantuan engines of yore, you get a 1.4-litre TSI 4-pot with 150Ps and 240Nm of torque in the new Tiguan. Again, like its smaller sibling the Vento, that’s a lot more grunt for a lot less annual road tax than what you’d be paying for a naturally-aspirated 1.8- or even 2.0-litre, but with the same kind of oomph. Did I also mention the added benefit of better fuel-efficiency? 6.7L/100km (claimed) combined to be precise.
The nitty-gritty details of the new Tiguan can all be found in our previous report, so I’ve decided to approach this review as a potential customer. Given what’s available out there, would the Tiguan be a wise choice? And speaking of what’s out there…
From a product standpoint, the Tiguan is going-up against some very, very stiff competition in this category. As far as size and cost is concerned, the Japanese absolutely dominate this market segment with the likes of the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail. Why, even the Koreans, the ones in the South anyway, have a thing or two to say in this segment.
Right-off the bat though, I can honestly say that in terms of interior refinement, the new Tiguan will not disappoint. It reeks of the typical high-quality materials that can be found in all latter-day VW’s. Instrumentation, driving position, interior appointments, tactile feel (this is really hard to get right because it’s all based on feel) as well as fit-and-finish are excellent.
On the move, the Tiguan behaves as it should. It’s quiet, agile (no, really) and possessed of NVH characteristics that define the term ‘German engineering’. Yes, it may be locally-assembled, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less a VW, except maybe in terms of price. The stringent – bordering on obsessive – VW assembly guidelines are strictly adhered to whether the car is being made in Germany or anywhere else on the planet.
Greying the lines between CBU and CKD has always been a challenge for carmakers, and in this instance the lines seem non-existent. Changing the consumer mindset though is a different matter. It’s archaic to still think that a CBU is always better than CKD, but unfortunately many still do and it’s high-time we stopped. The Tiguan looks, feels and drives exactly the same as one would expect a VW to, regardless where it was made.
More spirited driving however, does tend to induce some body-roll in corners, and that’s purely because the Tiguan’s suspension system has been set-up with the comfort of its passengers in mind. The front-wheel drive Tiguan prefers a more gentle-hand insofar as driving is concerned, and while it does have enough steam to push it up to 180kmh quite easily, tail-on-fire type driving is not its forte, nor should it be; there’s an abundance of other cars in VW’s stable for shenanigans like that. As expected an array of active and passive safety systems such as Six-airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) and Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) as well as Hill-Hold Control provide the requisite peace of mind while on the go.
When it comes down to it though, there’s nothing overly spectacular about the Tiguan to be honest, and while it looks very good, being neither too ostentatious nor too boring but somewhere in-between, it’s not the kind of car one would be blown-away driving; and in that respect, I reckon it was never meant to be. Instead, what you get is a very worthy contender in this mid-size SUV / Crossover game. But you know what, that’s all that matters really.
Think of it this way; it’s a chance to own and daily-drive a German engineered car in this segment – from a renown carmaker no less – that’s not Japanese or S.Korean, and for pretty-much the same amount of money. Therein lies the strength and allure of the Volkswagen Tiguan, and VPCM (Volkswagen Passenger Cars M’sia) should be given props for this.
Essentially, what they’ve done is introduce a viable alternative into this segment of the automotive market, which crucially won’t break anyone’s bank account. And as aforementioned, it’s not an easy segment to penetrate. It is a growing market though, and it could be seen as VPCM were just seizing the opportunity to cash-in on this trend of the upwardly-mobile and their SUVs, but it isn’t. The results of a knee-jerk reaction to automotive trends have always proven disastrous. Look how long it took Volvo to produce its first XC90 SUV… and look how well it’s doing today.
Instead, taking into account what was available and also researching customer wants and needs, VPCM has given a great deal of thought to the new Tiguan. It isn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but it most definitely serves its purpose and does what it was created to do very well. With prices starting below RM150k, it’s a chance for many with budget constraints who’d already resigned themselves to buying a Japanese or S.Korean SUV / Crossover in this segment, to go “Hey, wow…I can own a continental instead”.
If you think that sounds trivial, believe me it isn’t. Never underestimate the pulling-power and allure of a well-made, well-engineered and upmarket continental car in the same price bracket. Buyers are always looking for alternatives, and always trying to get the biggest bang for their buck; with the new Tiguan, VW has just given them the option to throw a German engineered car, from a very reputable carmaker, into that consideration mix. If you’re in the market for something like this and priced in this budget range, the Tiguan belongs on your list of choices. – Chris Wee.