Volkswagen Tiguan driven

* Update of VW's compact crossover * Price from £21,000-£27,500 (est) * MPG 32.8-53.3 CO2 139-199g/km...

Volkswagen Tiguan driven

What is it?
Volkswagen's compact crossover, the Tiguan, gets a mid-term update.

What's new?

The Tiguan has three new petrol engines a 158bhp turbo- and supercharged 1.4 and 2.0-litre turbos delivering 178bhp or 207bhp and a 109bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Even the two existing engines, 2.0-litre 138 and 168bhp diesels, deliver improved economy with lower emissions.

The front and rear have been restyled to ensure the Tiguan looks like it's part of the latest VW range and to bring it into line with the company's big 4x4, the Touareg. New comfort and safety options include variable suspension control (DCC), self-parking, road sign recognition, automatic headlight beam adjustment, prevention of unintended lane changes and a monitor to detect tired drivers and warn them to take a break.

What's the line-up?

As before, all models are five-door five-seaters, and there's a choice of front- or four-wheel-drive, but not with every engine. Front-wheel-drive versions are designated Bluemotion Technology and have engine stop-start and a brake energy recovery system, while those with four-wheel-drive look a bit sturdier and have more off-roading aids, including greater ground clearance beneath the front bumper. There will be four trim choices.

Is it any good?

Very. The Tiguan has always been one of the better compact crossovers, and this mid-life update should keep it that way until it's time for a replacement. It gives you as much space as a mid-sized five-seat MPV, but with the option of being more adventurous in all-wheel-drive guise.

Refinement and ride comfort (especially with DCC) are outstanding for the class, and the driving position is less up-in-the-air than in many similar cars, although some buyers might not find that a good thing.

What are the downsides?

It's not as adventurously styled as a Ford Kuga or Kia Sportage, or the forthcoming Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.

The 138bhp diesel, which will be far and away the best-seller, is disappointingly short of mid-range torque especially noticeable when trying to find an overtaking spot and even the 168bhp version needs a most un-diesel-like dose of revs before you have the confidence to pull out to pass. It's all down to changes in the gearing to bring about the improvement in economy.

The lane-change prevention system fuzzes the messages coming through the steering (although you can switch it off), while the top-line touch-screen sat-nav dishes out instructions way before you need to turn, which gets confusing in town.

Should I consider one?

If you're in the market for this sort of car, you'd be a fool not to. It makes the switch from more routine compact family car to crossover a seamless process.

What Car? says