2016 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 150 review
Brand new Tiguan aims to take on premium SUV rivals. It's now larger and more spacious than before, but can it justify its price tag?...
There wasn’t much wrong with the old Volkswagen Tiguan. It was spacious, decent to drive and came with a flexible and practical cabin designed with families in mind.
Next to today’s modern rivals, though, the old Tiguan doesn’t match up. The Nissan Qashqai stands head and shoulders above most cars in this segment, and new players such as the Hyundai Tucson and refreshed Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5 are showing how buyers in this market can expect more car for less money.
Enter the all-new, second-generation Tiguan. It’s longer, wider and lower than the old car, comes with a more premium, spacious cabin, which has more infotainment options, and features more frugal engine choices than before. The new Tiguan will go on sale in the UK this summer, with the majority of buyers expected to opt for the 2.0-litre diesel model we're driving.
What’s the Volkswagen Tiguan like to drive?
The 2.0-litre diesel engine in our front-wheel -drive test car develops 148bhp. It feels more than enough and gives the Tiguan a decent turn of speed from low revs around city streets. It’s connected as standard to a six-speed manual gearbox, which is precise and offers smooth changes. We’d wholeheartedly recommend Volkswagen’s slick seven-speed automatic gearbox, too.
The Tiguan’s steering is particularly light for an SUV. It's ideal for the city but fails to get much heavier on the motorway or when cornering quickly. At all speeds the Tiguan feels stable and planted, and while the ride is a little firm around town, it improves with speed and is more comfortable on the motorway, where it's also impressively quiet.
The front-wheel-drive car we tested is best suited to very light off-roading duties; anything more serious is best left to the four-wheel-drive versions, which make up the vast majority of Tiguan models sold in the UK. These models come with special driving modes which allow the car to control its own speed and braking when ascending or descending hills, and they work well.
What’s the Volkswagen Tiguan like inside?
The old Tiguan felt closely matched to the smaller Golf hatchback inside, and while much of the new car’s interior will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a recent Volkswagen product, there’s still space for the Tiguan to get its own flavour.
The dash is sensibly laid out, but while most materials feel premium to the touch, there are still some hard plastics on display, particularly lower down the cabin and in the rear. The driver sits high up and there’s good visibility both forwards and backwards. Most of the added length of this second-generation Tiguan is in the cabin, where rear-seat passengers will find 3cm of extra legroom. It makes all the difference, and means two adults can sit in the rear in comfort. There are also folding plastic tables in the back with pop-out cup holders.
In the boot, there’s an extra 145 litres of storage space on offer over the old Tiguan, meaning this new model can hold an impressive 615 litres with its rear seats in place. Use the toggles in the boot to drop the rear bench flat and there’s a fairly gargantuan 1655 litres on offer – more than is offered by both the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5.
In the UK, the Tiguan will be offered in five trim levels, but even in mid-range cars the list of equipment is generous. One option worth mentioning is Volkswagen’s digital instrument cluster. It already feaures on the Passat saloon and is in use across other Volkswagen Group brands, particularly Audi. It replaces traditional dials with an interactive display, allowing you to see navigation, audio and connectivity information directly in your field of vision. It’s available as a £585 option on most Tiguan models and is standard on top-end cars. As we’ve found before, it works brilliantly.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after a premium mid-size SUV, then the new Tiguan is worth considering. It’s more spacious inside than the old car, while also offering more equipment and a more economical range of engines.
It’s let down by inconsistent material quality and, ultimately, the price VW is charging for it. The entry-level 1.4-litre car may cost from a headline-grabbing £22,480, but by the time you reach the core 2.0-litre models that price has risen to around £25,500. Rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, one of our favourite SUVs, offer much the same space and a good driving experience for less money. *What Car? says...**