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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Tiguan
For:Looks like a small SUV, drives like a hatchback. Well-built and very smart
Against:You'll pay for the badge, it's not that good off-road
2.0 TDi BlueMotion Tech Match 5dr [2WD]
Marginally better for a midlife nip and tuck, but still underwhelming
It’s been nearly 15 years since the Toyota RAV4 made its debut, so what on earth has VW been doing all this time? Quick to the party with...
What we say:
The VW Tiguan may look tough but it's not really for off-road use. Remember to keep it on the path
What is it?
A mini SUV based on a Golf. The Tiguan’s chunky styling might lure you into thinking it can rough it. It can’t, but that’s all right because more owners will set foot on the Moon than take it off-road. This was one of the latecomers to the junior SUV game and there’s no specific USP to make it leap out from the opposition. But it’s a Volkswagen, so it just gets on with being safe, dependable, and a little bit posh at the same time.
Essentially a Golf with some extra height and heft, the Tiguan retains enough hatchback-ishness for you to throw it around if the mood takes you. It steers accurately and controls body movements well, and in 4x4 guise – designed more for tarmac than tundra – there’s extra traction to push you through corners whatever the weather. That talent through the bends hasn’t affected the ride too much, and the Tiguan remains one of the smoothest, comfiest cars in its class (though it doesn’t quite have the class of the BMW X3).
There are three engines to pick from: a 1.4 TFSI and 2.0 TDIs with either 140 or 177bhp. The 1.4-litre petrol is great in the smaller, lighter Golf but here it feels a bit tepid despite its 150bhp. So while its clever turbocharger plus supercharger combo has power, economy and emissions advantages, for all-out torque, the middle-power diesel is the way to go, even if the 2.0-litre TDI 140 is slower than the TSI.
On the inside
There’s a familiar VW vibe in here. And while some might find that a bit samey (jump in a Golf and you’ll struggle to spot the difference), the cabin is indisputably lovely – typically well-designed and finished, with VW’s typical high standards of build quality. The Tiguan is longer, wider and taller than VW’s own compact seven-seat MPV, the Touran, which makes it commendably spacious. Leg, head and shoulder room are all excellent, although it’s a bit tight for three people in the back. The boot is generous at 1,510 litres (rear seats folded), and is larger than the Toyota RAV4’s, but smaller than the Land Rover Freelander’s.
There’s nothing shocking here. These engines are available in most other Volkswagens and there’s not a duff one among them. Consumption and CO2 levels are among the best in the class, provided you stick with manual transmission, though they take a slight knock if you opt for all-wheel drive. It falls into the pricier portion of the market, which is what you’d expect given the upmarket badge on the front, so be wise with your option choices and settle for a middling trim. Japanese rivals are generally cheaper to buy, but the Tiguan is likely to have better used value.
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