Volkswagen's last venture into the SUV arena in India in the form of the Touareg didn't go down very well with the customers. Most people found it better to buy the Audi Q7, which was largely the same vehicle as the Touareg since both shared the same platform. After a long gap, Volkswagen India is finally back into the burgeoning SUV segment with the 2nd-generation Tiguan. Ever since the price of the Tiguan was announced, it has faced a positioning challenge since people can also opt for 7-seater SUVs such as the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour or the new Isuzu MU-X. For a little less money, one can also buy the Hyundai Tucson. So what is the unique offering of the Tiguan? We found out the SUVs worthiness on the road to Chikmagalur from Bengaluru and back.
Volkswagen Tiguan Design
It only takes a gaze at the Tiguan to figure out that it bears the same homogeneous design language of Volkswagen. That, however, doesn't mean that it looks the same as other VW cars. The Tiguan does have its own design identity and looks elegant and well-poised. The trademark restrained design language of Volkswagen means the car has few simple lines, all of which exude sophistication. The LED headlamps with LED DRLs have a three-slat chrome grille with the prominent VW badge.
Moving to the side, the silver-finished 18-inch alloy wheels along with a high-ground clearance of about 200 mm (unladen) give the Tiguan an SUV-ish stance. A strong shoulder line running from the front fender right up to the tail lamp gives the SUV a sense of dynamism. The rear is a bit plain jane, compared to the rest of the design and the only attractive elements here are the LED tail lamps.
Overall, the Tiguan has a premium and upmarket design that remains within the confines of subtlety. While it might not be as aggressive and striking as some other SUVs, three or four years down the line, the Tiguan might be a better car to look at every morning in your driveway. Being timeless then is the Tiguan's strength in the field of design.
Volkswagen Tiguan Interior
The cabin of the Tiguan looks premium and well-appointed from the first look. The all-black interior of the car elevates the premium quotient of the cabin but it does have a small shortcoming. The sleek carbon-fibre-like strips in between the dashboard look expensive but opting for an aluminium finish would've broken the monotony of black more efficiently. The centre console houses a colour touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Interestingly, navigation is relayed onto the screen through the mobile phone but this is possible presently only with an Android device. Apple users will have to wait until the Cupertino-based company permits Volkswagen to use its map.
The seats are good at the front and offer good overall support and the cushioning is brilliant, translating into good comfort over long durations. The material quality too is appreciable throughout the cabin and everything goes well with the luxury positioning of the vehicle. The novelty factors that add a dash of opulence to the cabin are the panoramic sunroof and the ambient lighting, which again has a subtle yet prominent appearance in an occupant's field of vision.
Space at the rear is great in terms of legroom and shoulder room and since the roof doesn't taper much, headroom too is good. The reclining rear seats and the 60:40 split only add more versatility to the luxurious and comfortable cabin. Boot space too is impressive and a foot-gesture based opening means that one can operate the tail lid without using her/ his arms.
Overall, the Tiguan impressed us with its high-quality and comfortable cabin. A smart infotainment system adds to the SUV's appeal for young buyers, except for Apple users who prioritise navigation.
Volkswagen Tiguan Engine and Gearbox
The Tiguan is powered by a 2.0 litre TDI turbocharged diesel engine with a peak power output of about 140 hp and 340 Nm of torque. While the numbers might not sound too exciting, one needs to understand that the Tiguan is based on Volkswagen's MQB modular platform, which makes it lighter than most SUVs in this price-segment. As a result, the Tiguan moves around effortlessly, be in the urban jungle or on the highway. The engine has a bit of lag but most of that is masked by the new-generation 7-speed DSG transmission. The gearbox offers quick upshifts and downshifts and also comes with paddle shifters if you want to take control of the unit manually.
Acceleration is brisk and it's easy to touch 140 km/h of speed at which the Tiguan feels very refined. The well-contained NVH levels add further to a refined and quiet experience inside the cabin. The only unwanted sound that filters in is the wind noise but that only starts creeping in once you're past about 120 km/h.
The Tiguan comes with a full-time four-wheel drive system with four modes – Snow, Normal, Off road and Individual. These modes alter the engine and gearbox response to handle the selected terrain better. While we didn't get a chance to put the Tiguan through a tough off-road test, it did perform well in all of the wet and slushy surfaces.
Volkswagen Tiguan Handling
Owing to the underpinnings of the MQB platform, the Tiguan has got the road manners of a car. As a result, there is very little pitching movement in the cabin at high speeds and body-roll too is significantly less than other SUVs in the same price bracket. The SUV easily holds onto the intended line through a corner and the grip from the Hankook tyres proved to adequate on the winding roads around Chikmagalur.
Ride quality again is impressive and the Tiguan gobbles up small undulations on the road with ease. At low-speeds the ride quality is a bit hard but as velocity builds up, the ride quality gets better. Feedback from the steering is decent, if not impressive and lets you enough about the friction of the front tyres to stay in control in most situations. Brakes too are good and offer impressive bite but the feedback on the brake pedal felt a bit less than ideal.
Volkswagen Tiguan Safety
The Tiguan scores high on safety, not just for the occupants but also for pedestrians with an active hood, which in case of an impact automatically raises by three inches. This prevents the pedestrian from hitting hard parts of the vehicle, minimising injury. For the occupants, the Tiguan comes with six airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent control and Auto Hold, which holds the vehicle for an indefinite period of time until the driver applies the throttle. The reverse parking camera offers clear display but there's only one angle and with much cheaper cars coming with multiple angles to choose from, this might be a small miss for the consumers.
The Tiguan proved to be an impressive vehicle on all parameters we tested it on. In areas such as engine refinement and in-cabin comfort, it's way ahead of most SUVs priced similarly. It's non-imposing design and the lack of aggressiveness might be a downer for some SUV customers but Volkswagen designs have always been inclined more towards elegance than aggression.
In the end, it all boils down to the price and that is one of the very few areas where the Tiguan doesn't impress at Rs 27.98 lakh for the Comfortline and Rs 31.38 lakh, ex-showroom for the Highline variant. This pricing brings the Tiguan right in between the giants such as Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. If you're wondering why the price is high, the only localised part in the Tiguan is its engine and everything else is imported and assembled in India, which means a higher duty payout for Volkswagen.
So who is the Tiguan really for? If you're someone who prefers subtlety over loud and aggressive designs the Tiguan fits in the bill. In addition, those looking for a refined cabin and better comfort along with a pleasurable driving experience presently have no better option than the Tiguan in the market. That it comes with a four-wheel drive system makes things even better for the adventurous lot. However, how many such buyers Volkswagen will be able to find and in what duration of time will be interesting to witness.
Stay tuned for a video review of the Tiguan coming up soon on our YouTube channel 'Express Drives'.