Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid long-term test

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

LT Volkswagen Tiguan header

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 a motorway, offer a comfortable and refined experience, and function as a mobile office when needed

Mileage 4732 List price £39,640 Target Price £39,056 Price as tested £40,695 Test economy 50.4mpg Official economy 153.2mpg  Dealer price now £37,729 Private price now £33,531 Trade-in price now £33,957 Running costs (excl. depreciation) £530 (petrol), £120 (electricity, public chargers)

5 October 2022 – The duality of man

Whether it’s fish and chips, Torvill and Dean or even bed and breakfast, there are countless examples of strong partnerships that work together. Each may be talented on their own, but put them together and the combination makes something epic. The same, I think, can be said of electric and petrol power, and the last six months of motoring in my Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid have shown that these two can form a team that’s worth writing home about.

When I’ve run purely electric cars such as the Skoda Enyaq and Hyundai Ioniq Electric in the past, I worried about not being able to charge them up at home. It meant I spent more time and had more stress than would have been the case in a petrol or diesel-engined car filling it up, and ultimately, because I was relying on the public charging network, it turned out to be a rather expensive way of running a green car. 

Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid goodbye

Enter the Tiguan plug-in hybrid, which offered me that most beautiful of things – choice. You see, I could plug it in whenever I got the chance, but when I ran out of electric power or didn’t happen to be going anywhere near a charge point, it didn’t leave me in the lurch, since it had the backup of a gutsy 1.4-litre petrol engine.

The result has been a stress-free experience. I kept the Tiguan’s battery topped up as much as I could, primarily by using the public charging points close to where I attend am-dram rehearsals twice a week, but when those charging bays weren’t free, I didn’t stress about running low on electric power. Instead, I’d simply add switching the Tiguan into its hybrid mode to my start procedure – the car starts in electric-only mode by default – allowing me to maximise the efficiency of its two power sources for as long as possible.

On the occasions where the Tiguan’s battery was empty and I knew there was no hope of charging it for a few days, the petrol engine kept me moving well enough, but I did see a decline in my instant fuel economy, since the battery pack began to act as an anchor on the car. 

Volkswagen Tiguan with boot open

My final fuel economy isn’t anywhere close to what the Tiguan is officially capable of, but it is nonetheless better than I was getting from previous purely petrol and diesel-engined cars – plus it’s been better for the planet. If I had a charging point at home (alas, living in a first-floor flat, I cannot), it would have been even better.

While the Tiguan was very good at being a plug-in hybrid, it was also good at being a family SUV. The raised driving position gave me a good view over the road ahead, and the seats were supportive for long journeys. There was never any shortage of room, either, for passengers and their luggage. And even when every seat was filled, my Elegance Tiguan’s panoramic sunroof meant that the interior stayed light and airy, rather than feeling cramped.

It wasn’t all roses, however. I noted in an earlier report that the Tiguan’s safety systems felt a little out of step – the adaptive cruise control, for example, would often re-set its speed to approach corners on roads which I wasn’t on, and more than once the car told me to drive in the middle of my lane, where doing so would cause me to trade paint with the car next to me.

Volkswagen Tiguan charging

The infotainment system, meanwhile, was generally quick to respond to my inputs, but sometimes it had trouble connecting to my mobile phone, meaning that catching up on my favourite podcasts involved pot luck.

Still, these were niggles, because overall I’ve enjoyed my time with the Tiguan. Its plug-in hybrid system allowed me to just get on with my life without worrying if I couldn’t plug in with every journey, and despite carrying around a bulky battery pack, the minor sacrifices made to space didn’t sully the Tiguan’s role as a great all-round family SUV.

For all its fine qualities, though, my Tiguan was never particularly sporty to drive. It satisfied my practicality and comfort needs no end, but it left me wanting something a bit more engaging to drive every day. That’s something I’m hoping to remedy with my next partnership – and more on that soon.

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