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Is this a sporty Tiguan?

Not far off. It’s the VW Tiguan R-Line, the Golf-esque SUV with a very assertive makeover. It may come with the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive, but this is as urban-minded as cars like this get. Wouldn’t want to get those 20in alloys dirty, would you?

While the Tiguan range begins at £22,510, you’ll need nearly £32,000 to buy the cheapest R-Line. We’ve driven it here with a 148bhp 2.0 TDI engine, 4Motion and a DSG paddleshift gearbox. Thus specced, you’re looking at a £34,325 bill before options. Much money.

Can it possibly be worth that?

Well, you can have a more powerful BMW X3 xDrive20d for less. But it will be a basic SE, whereas this Tiguan R-Line is strewn with goodies.

Outside, there are those ginormous ‘Suzuka’ wheels, LED lights front and back and the really rather bold R-Line body kit. It is, to these eyes, a very smart looking thing.

Beneath the skin, there’s sports suspension, an entirely TFT dial setup – a close relation to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – and plenty of active safety tech and smart phone connectivity. You won’t want for much, apart from perhaps some classier materials. The ergonomics are nailed on, but some of the plastics are a little cheap.

Um, sports suspension?

Yes, it’s an incongruous addition to the spec sheet of what is undoubtedly a family-oriented vehicle, and one with off-road potential, if not intentions. This is a very sharp and tidy car to drive, however.

Much of the praise must go to its chassis architecture, dubbed MQB, which is shared with an abundance of cars across the whole VW Group. Golf, A3, Octavia, TT… they’re all precise, pleasing cars to drive, and the Tiguan is no different.

Its handling is completely car-like, and might even encourage you to have a modicum of fun when the seats and boot aren’t full of kids and all their bumf. The Tiguan is responsive with or without R-Line trim, mind, though its firm-edged ride (doubtless exaggerated by the R’s chunky wheels) is worthy of note. Pot holes and speed bumps are not subtly smothered.

What about when it is full of kids?

This is a refined, easy-going car. The 2.0 TDI diesel of our test car was only notably aural under keen acceleration, and nicely hushed at a motorway cruise. Linked to the DSG gearbox it’s also exceedingly effortless; with the Tiguan weighing 1,673kg, modest by SUV standards, it doesn’t have to battle physics too hard. That also means its claimed 49.6mpg fuel economy is uncommonly attainable, too.

Perhaps the downside of its modest weight is its modest size, and this is certainly closer to a car than a full-size off-roader. But that also means it’s an absolute doddle to park and thread through traffic.

It’ll do the practical stuff, too; VW says most owners go for all-wheel drive, and the system comes with adjustable modes, while the Tiguan will tow up to 2,500kg, aided by an electronic trailer assist system.

Won’t they all end up in urban environments?

A lot of them probably will, and that’s where the appeal of this R-Line kit doubtless comes in to play. We normally don’t comment on styling – it’s an entirely subjective area – but this kit makes a vast difference to the Tiguan’s appearance. It’s how we imagine it looked when it first left the designer’s pencil. It costs a couple of grand more than the next trim level down, but it’s easy to see why it might prove hard to resist.

But ultimately, if you’re not towing stuff around or scrabbling through mud on a regular basis, the Tiguan’s price tag better matches its size further down the range. Get one with the same 148bhp diesel engine in SE Nav trim, with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, and it will cost £28k, saving you almost £4,000.

Whichever way you go, though, the Tiguan remains a feel-good car, and one of the most accomplished that VW currently makes. And its stable mates are hardly shabby…

What do you think?

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