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First Drive

Road Test: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi S 5dr DSG

£24,100 when new
Published: 16 Aug 2011


  • BHP


  • CO2


  • Insurance


According to Volkswagen, the Tiguan is one of its ‘four pillars' in the UK, alongside the Golf, Polo and Passat. And you'd be forgiven for not noticing. Awareness of the Tiguan is oddly low when compared to its ubiquitous rival, the Land Rover Freelander, perhaps because there is something inconspicuous about it that even this midlife facelift may struggle to rectify.

But that's assuming it actually needs rectifying. VW claims 27,000 Tiguans have been sold on our shores since its launch four years ago, so there must be enough people in the UK for whom the oxymoron of an understated SUV fits the bill just perfectly.

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That said, the first thing you notice about the Tiguan Part II is that it has benefited from a cosmetic overhaul in the vein of the rest of the VW range, and looks far better for it. With a sharper, more contemporary grille treatment and rear-light clusters, this is a classy if still quietly sophisticated-looking thing that has deftly kept in step with its contemporaries.

Much like the visual redesign, what's gone on underneath the revised Tiguan is modest but gently effective. Two new TSI engines and a diesel are on offer, so now you have four of the former and three of the latter to choose from, all apparently bolstered by improved soundproofing.

Despite the new petrol engines, the volume seller here will be diesel, headed up by the 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI. This still sounds fairly rough under acceleration, despite the improved deadening, and has to be worked through the gears so much that the pricey twin-clutch DSG option is sorely tempting.

The Tiguan handles with assurance though, belying its weight and high centre of gravity. It's no Golf, but this is far less cumbersome than larger SUVs and easier to thread around B-roads.

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The second-gen Tiguan is again offered in two versions: one, front-wheel drive, with a heavy road-going bent; the other, 4Motion four-wheel drive, with greater emphasis, for what it's worth, on going off-road. An increased approach angle means an 18° approach is boosted to 28°, and with this range-topping Escape model, you also get a pack that incorporates an off-road mode with things like hill descent, gear pre-selection on DSG and ABS plus to improve braking on loose surfaces. Sounds as impressive as it does unnecessary. This is, after all, a Tiguan. It's not going off-road in the UK unless someone falls asleep at the wheel. Which, all things considered, they might.

The Tiguan remains a very nice car that fails to capture the imagination. Neither as desirable as a Freelander, nor as good as a VW Golf Estate.

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