Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid long-term test: report 1

This recently refreshed plug-in hybrid SUV can travel up to 30 miles on a charge. We're living with one to see if it should be on your shortlist...

Volkswagen Tiguan front

The car Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 eHybrid Elegance

Why it’s here To show that going green doesn’t mean compromising on longer journeys, even if you can’t charge at home

Needs to Be economical, both around town and on the motorway, offer a comfortable and refined experience, and function as a mobile office when needed

Mileage 1202 List price £39,640 Target Price £39,056 Price as tested £40,695 Test economy 102mpg Official economy 153.2mpg Options Area view £760, Metallic paint £665, Wireless smartphone charging £440, Winter Pack £245

30 April 2022 – The middle ground

In many ways, I’m hoping that my new Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid will turn out to be a bit like Goldilocks’ porridge. No really.

You see, I’ve previously had petrol and diesel-engined cars, and I’ve just recently given back a Skoda Enyaq iV electric SUV. But while I felt slightly guilty running the former while doing mostly urban miles, the spotty state of the UK’s public charging network made covering longer journeys in the latter more of a chore than it should have been. A plug-in hybrid, therefore, could be just right.

And on the face of things, this Tiguan ticks all the right boxes. It has a 1.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, so tackling long motorway journeys – such as the 164-mile drive from my home to my favourite weekend-break spot of Wells Next the Sea in Norfolk – shouldn’t be a chore. But for commuting around town during the week, there’s also an electric motor, which is fed by a 13kWh battery pack and which promises an official range of up to 29 miles. 

Volkswagen Tiguan rear

In theory, then, I can commute for at least half my week without using a drop of fuel. And with petrol prices as high as they are right now, that’s good for both the environment and my bank balance.

The fact that I’ll be saving some money on fuel means I’ve felt better about filling my Tiguan with kit. So while we recommend sensibly-priced Life trim on the Tiguan, I’ve gone a couple of rungs up the ladder to Elegance, which gets me luxuries including 19in alloy wheels, a rear-view camera to help with parking, and digital instrument dials. 

I’ve also added a few choice options – wireless charging for my mobile phone, heated rear seats so my passengers can remain toasty on colder days, and an area view monitor to give me a 360-degree view around the car. My final option is metallic paint, because I think the Tiguan looks brilliant in this Nightshade Blue colour.

All of this means my Tiguan is what I’d call fully loaded, with a price tag which pushes it into competition with more premium family SUVs such as the Volvo XC40. Part of this test, then, will be to see whether the Tiguan can hold its own at the more expensive end of the price spectrum.

First impressions have been positive. When I’ve run fully electric cars previously, I’ve always had half an eye on the range read-out, which in my Skoda Enyaq iV usually meant starting with 200 miles or so and watching it slowly tick down. The sense of calm I felt when seeing more than 400 miles of total range in the Tiguan, then, was palpable.

Volkswagen Tiguan rear seats

I’ve so far enjoyed commuting to the What Car? office using only electric power, but for longer trips I let the Tiguan use both of its power sources optimally. And so far it’s working well; the electric motor offers plenty of shove around town, meaning I can beat slower traffic away from any junctions, but when the petrol engine joins in there’s no great racket to accompany it. 

Despite the extra weight of my car compared with other Tiguans – because of its battery pack – the light steering means it doesn’t feel like an especially heavy car to manoeuvre. And although the ride is firmer than on other Tiguans I’ve tried, it’s certainly not uncomfortable.

My hope is that the new few months of Tiguan ownership will be like a fairy tale – especially if I can find enough opportunities to make the most of the battery using the public charging network, since I can’t currently charge the car at home.

With reduced running costs compared with a regular petrol or diesel car, yet potentially little sacrifice in terms of practicality or comfort, this Tiguan could turn out to be the real hero of this story. Let’s just hope that, unlike the tale of Goldilocks, it isn't just a work of fiction.

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