When I first drove the Volkswagen Tiguan from Bengaluru to Chickmaglur, I was thoroughly impressed with its versatility. The SUV not only was able to go over rough patches using its smart all-wheel-drive system, it was able to glide over tarmac pretty much like a luxury sedan. Although. I did feel initially that the Tiguan could have been priced more competitively, its sales success proved that customers loved the overall value-offering. That said, the vehicles we drove were brand new and hence chances of finding any issues were quite less. Hence, we decided to take a lightly old Tiguan to a short and quick trip to Agra and find out what is like to live with over a period of time. This wasn't a trip to visit the Taj Mahal but just to enjoy a quick drive that isn't tiring.
The Drive – First Day
Ever since the Yamuna Expressway connecting Noida to Agra opened, reaching the home city of Taj Mahal became extremely easy. Considering my office is in Noida, getting on to the expressway is a matter of minutes. Not having to go through the traffic hell of Delhi meant I could take it easy and leave for Agra in evening. Having finished work by 5 pm, I set out in the Volkswagen Tiguan from Sector 10, Noida towards the Noida Expressway.
Getting to the expressway took me about 30 minutes as traffic within Noida is chaotic since no one follows traffic rules and the Police too just don't bother. In the traffic, Tiguan's six-speed DSG transmission worked flawlessly in tandem with the 2.0 litre TDI engine. With almost no lag from the start and no sudden power surges, driving in dense traffic was a piece of cake. The fact that the Tiguan isn't humongous on the outside allowing for maneuverability between vehicles and helped save time. The light steering in traffic meant that changing direction required very little effort.
Once I got off the Noida Expressway onto the Yamuna Expressway, the long right-hander loop provided a good opportunity to put the Tiguan's tyres, suspension and chassis under stress. Taking the wide turn at high-speed resulted in a loud tyre squeal but the Tiguan maintained its line through the turn. Despite being an SUV, the vehicle displayed controlled body-roll and the steering constantly provided good feedback.
Thereon, the road to Agra was a boring and straight road and making thing worse was that this was a cemented road. This meant tyres would heat up more and tyre-roll noise also would shoot up in general. Now one can control tyre heating with on any car by taking proper steps such as proper inflation, alignment and driving as per tyre's speed rating. What one cannot do much about is the tyre-roll noise, which is directly proportional to the increase in speed. This is where the Tiguan's impressive NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) came into play as the sound was filtering in much less than many other cars I've driven on the same road.
A short patch of construction work meant speed on the expressway was under 50 kmph for the first few kilometres. Thereon, the 140 hp output with 340 Nm of torque meant all I could easily accelerate to triple digit speed and try to headbutt the darkening horizon as the Sun got ready to set.
Whether accelerating hard or cruising at high speed, the Tiguan's engine behaves in a smooth and refined manner. A few minutes later, with nothing but a straight road, I engaged the cruise control at 100 kmph and relaxed the remaining drive to the hotel.
Talking of relaxation, the seats in Volkswagen Tiguan are excellent and offer great cushioning and shoulder and thigh support. Front seats can be adjusted electronically and the steering too can be adjusted rake and reach so finding the right driving position is fairly easy.
At high-speed, ride quality of the Tiguan is composed and even when going over expansion joints and surface undulations, the occupants aren't exposed much to movement inside the cabin. Occupants at the rear seat too rated the bench quite high for under-thigh and back support. Legroom and headroom are adequate to keep even tall occupants comfortable.
Within a little over two hours from the time I got onto the Agra Expressway, I was at my hotel in Agra and the only issue I could see for my drive back to home next day was the huge number of splashed bugs on the windshield.
Next day, with the windshield cleaned and breakfast over, I quickly set back on the way back to Delhi. Using the bypass road meant I never had to get inside Agra city, which was a big relief! Within minutes, I was onto the Expressway and heading to Delhi. No stops meant I was able to enter Noida within 2 hours 20 minutes of leaving the hotel. Fortunately, entering Noida and subsequently Delhi during noon didn't expose us to dense traffic and within a little over an hour I was at my home in Dwarka.
While I've already talked about the strengths of the Tiguan, there are some areas for improvements too. The infotainment touchscreen is smart and offers a wide range of connectivity options but visibility under direct sunlight can be an issue at times. Then there's the most important thing – the price. At Rs 27.49 lakh, ex-showroom for the Comfortline and Rs 30.87 lakh for the Highline variant the Tiguan does feel expensive. Yes, it's imported and hence attracts the ludicrous category of import duties in our country but a consumer just looks at the final value-proposition.
So how come the Tiguan succeeded with premium pricing when there's Toyota Fortuner available for a similar amount? The answer is quite simple since there's no other SUV in this price-segment that offer such a fine balance between the off-road capabilities of an SUV and the comfort and driving pleasure of a sedan. The design isn't boxy and macho but it's elegant and sophisticated so posers might not like the Tiguan. Overall, the Tiguan was easily able to prove to us that it has no parallel in the Indian market when it comes to versatility.