2019 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 230 review: price, specs and release date
The Volkswagen Tiguan has been given a heart transplant courtesy of the Golf GTI, but does it improve this family SUV?...
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Chocolate and chilli. Chicken and maple syrup. Pineapple and pepperoni. Some things don't seem like an obvious fit, but work together surprisingly well. And we may be able to add one more pairing to that list because the Volkswagen Tiguan is now available with the VW Group's 2.0-litre TSI 230 petrol engine – the same engine that you get in the Golf GTI hot hatch.
In the Tiguan, it can only be combined with range-topping R-Line Tech trim, which looks sporty and is packed with equipment, including four-wheel drive and adaptive suspension with switchable driving modes. Put simply, this model is as all-singing, all dancing as Volkswagen's family SUV gets. So, does it live up to its promise?
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 230 on the road
The Tiguan is a porkier car than the Golf GTI, but with this engine fitted it's still pretty rapid. Once into its stride, it’ll never leave you wanting for more. However, it's short on low-down torque, needing at least 2000rpm on the rev counter before it really wakes up; even the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel Tiguan has a sense of urgency from around 1500rpm.
Exacerbating this problem is the Tiguan's seven-speed automatic gearbox. Flex your right foot in an effort to induce a downshift when approaching a roundabout, joining fast moving traffic or, frankly, anywhere on the public highway, and there’s a long delay before the gear engages. Then when it does, you get a sudden burst of pace, which makes smooth progress tricky.
To make matters worse, when you're slowing, the gearbox downshifts with all the grace of a learner using a clutch for the first time, causing the car to lurch.
Switching to Sport mode doesn't solve these problems, even though it speeds up shifts and makes the accelerator more responsive. So, instead, your best bet is to move the gear lever over to manual and use the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Then the gearbox is much slicker and quicker to respond, although it won’t let you shift until it’s ready to, even when you demand it.
More positively, choosing this petrol Tiguan over a diesel improves refinement. There’s minimal whine from the engine except when you’re exploring the upper reaches of the rev range, and at a steady cruise it's pretty much silent. In fact, our only complaint is that it never sounds particularly sporty.
As you'd expect, the adaptive suspension is at its most forgiving when the car is in Comfort mode, absorbing most of what British roads have to throw at it, although the huge 20in wheels that you get with R-Line Tech trim mean this Tiguan still isn't as relaxing as a Volvo XC40.
Selecting Sport reduces body lean at the expense of some suppleness, but regardless of the driving mode you choose, the Tiguan handles well for a car of its size. The steering plays a big part, having plenty of weight at higher speeds to help you feel in control of this hefty chunk of metal. Then when you slow, it lightens up appropriately, meaning even tight multi-storey car parks are easy to manoeuvre in.
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI 230 interior
In typical SUV style, the Tiguan has a high-set driving position, which combines with slim windscreen pillars to provide good forward visibility. And while your view of what's behind is more compromised, a rear-view camera is included to help with reversing manoeuvres.
The list of standard equipment also includes electrically adjustable seats to make it easy for people of different shapes and sizes to get comfortable. And interior quality is typical Volkswagen, meaning everything feels well screwed together, there are plenty of soft-touch plastics across the dashboard, and scratchy plastics are left for lower down the doors. At the same time, numerous R-Line logos are sprinkled around to remind you of how deeply you’ve dug into your pockets to get this trim.
The infotainment system is one of the best touchscreens currently around, with crisp graphics, easy-to-follow menus and a selection of handy shortcut keys. It responds quickly to inputs, too, and when it senses your hand approaching the 8.0in screen, the menus gets bigger for your convenience. But despite all this, the physical rotary-dial systems you get in the BMW X1 and Mazda CX-5 are still easier to operate on the move.
There’s plenty of space for all passengers, even though a panoramic sunroof is included as standard on R-Line Tech Tiguans. And only the tallest of passengers will have trouble sitting in the back without their knees brushing against the front seats.
Boot space is more than sufficient for weekends away or storing family paraphernalia, but although official figures suggest the Tiguan is one of the best in the class, both the X1 and the Audi Q3 will swallow more carry-on suitcases.
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