What Car? says...
They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but VW has decided it's time to give us a new version of its best-selling model globally – the Volkswagen Tiguan.
This third-generation Tiguan flaunts a modern exterior design, while its underpinnings are a development of its predecessor’s, making way for new on-board tech to help the popular family SUV deliver a more polished drive than before.
Meanwhile, the overhauled interior offers a little more space, and buyers get lots of trim levels to choose from, plus a range of engines, including two petrol plug-in hybrids.
So, should buyers looking for a car that offers a combination of family-friendly practicality and a relatively upmarket image simply go out and buy a Tiguan? Well, before you do, read on to find out how it compares with the best family SUVs out there.
We'll tell you how we rate the latest VW Tiguan against more value-focused contenders, such as the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. We'll also consider the highly competent Kia Sportage and premium-badged alternatives, including the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine-wise, the VW Tiguan covers most bases. There's a choice of familiar pure-petrol, pure-diesel and mild-hybrid petrol engines from launch, with the option of front or four-wheel drive, depending on the version.
From mid 2024 there will also be a choice of two eHybrid plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, with power outputs of 201bhp and 268bhp. Both can officially cover a competitive 62 miles on electricity alone.
The Tiguan range kicks off with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, which is available with 129bhp (as the eTSI 130) or 148bhp (eTSI 150). Both come with mild-hybrid assistance to bolster performance and fuel economy. The eTSI 130 officially takes 10.6 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, while the eTSI 150 takes 9.1 seconds.
We’ve tried the higher-powered of the two, and while it needs revving fairly hard to get the very best out of it, there's plenty of muscle available in everyday driving. The only slight demerit is the automatic gearbox which can be slow to change down a gear when you need a burst of acceleration – although you can improve its reaction times by twisting the gear selector from D (Drive) to S (Sport) mode.
If you’d prefer to run on diesel, you'll want the 2.0 TDI, which has 148bhp and an official 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds. We've driven it in prototype form and found it to have plenty of grunt at low speed.
Meanwhile, a pair of more powerful 2.0-litre petrol options equipped with four-wheel drive will arrive later, offering 201bhp or 261bhp. A high-performance Tiguan R version has not been confirmed.
All the Tiguans we've tested so far were fitted with the optional adaptive suspension, called DCC Pro, which allows you to soften or firm up the suspension by selecting Comfort or Sport drive modes. There's also an Individual drive mode so you can fine-tune it further, with 15 degrees of firmness to choose from.
In its softest setting, the Tiguan rides serenely and quietly over rough roads with very little float over undulating roads. In its stiffest mode, the ride is more settled and it smothers bumps far better than a BMW X1 with adaptive suspension – even on our test car’s large 20in wheels.
While the X1 is keener to turn into bends, the Tiguan strikes a good balance of comfort with neat body control and plenty of grip. Overall, it feels more polished to drive than a Nissan Qashqai or Vauxhall Grandland.
Refinement is a strong point, too. The 1.5 eTSI petrol engine is smooth and quiet even when worked hard, while wind and road noise are low at motorway speeds.
Strengths Hushed cruising manners; optional adaptive suspension brings a polished ride and handling balance
Weaknesses Composed, rather than dynamic handling
The interior layout, fit and finish
Getting comfortable in the latest VW Tiguan is easy, thanks to plenty of adjustment from the seat and steering wheel. Power adjustable lumbar support for the front seats is standard on Life trim and above, while Elegance trim adds massaging seats and an adjustable seat base for additional thigh support.
The Tiguan gives you a great view out of the front windscreen, but the view over your shoulder isn’t as good, due to the chunky pillars at the rear of the car.
Luckily, to make parking a doddle, all versions come with front and rear parking sensors, as well as a rear-view camera. Elegance trim adds a 360-degree camera.
Automatic LED headlights come as standard across the range while Life trim will automatically switch on high beams for you.
All versions come with a versatile 10.3in digital instrument panel that can clearly show you all sorts of useful information. The optional Infotainment Package Plus adds a head-up display.
The most prominent update is a freestanding central touchscreen that measures 12.9in. A whopping 15.0in screen (that’s as big as in a Tesla Model Y) is available as part of the Infotainment Package Plus.
We’ve tried the larger screen and it’s impressive, with sharp, vibrant graphics, customisable shortcut icons at the top and quick response times. Life trim and above includes wireless phone-charging, sat-nav and a voice control system that recognises natural speech.
The climate control functions are integrated into the touchscreen infotainment system, with the temperature and main settings permanently on display.
Meanwhile, the touch pads below the screen that adjust the temperature can be quite fiddly to use, but at least they light up so you can use them in the dark, unlike in the VW ID 3. Likewise, you get proper buttons on the steering wheel for cruise control and audio settings, rather than fiddly haptic controls like the ID 3's.
On the lower centre console, a rotary dial with an integrated OLED display allows you to easily adjust the volume or scroll through the drive modes. It feels tactile to use, too.
In the top-spec R-Line trim we’ve tried, the Tiguan’s smart interior offers plenty of soft-touch, leather-like materials on the doors and dashboard, while gloss black and silver trim finishers add a bit of visual pizazz. The controls and switches operate with reassuring precision.
Strengths Comfortable driving position; good material quality
Weaknesses Fiddly touch-sensitive ventilation controls
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There’s plenty of head and leg room in the front of the VW Tiguan for even the tallest of occupants, and storage space is impressive too.
The front door pockets will each hold a fairly large bottle and there’s a cubby below the centre armrest with two cupholders. There’s also space for a pair of phones on a rubberised tray below the centre air vents.
Leg room is generous in the rear seats, with plenty of space for feet underneath the front seats. There’s plenty of head room for 6ft tall occupant in the back, and there’s still a small amount of clearance from the roof lining with the optional panoramic roof fitted.
If you’re only carrying a couple of rear passengers, they can use the central armrest, which includes two cupholders and somewhere to hold your phone upright for watching video.
A middle rear-seat passenger will be fine on short journeys. The seat base is usefully flat, although their legs will have to straddle a small hump on the floor.
All models come with 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, which are more versatile than the 60/40 split folding seats you’ll find in the Seat Ateca and Volvo XC40, and can also be slid back and forth, and reclined.
The Tiguan has a seriously big boot by class standards, with 652 litres of space in non-PHEV versions.
The load area is a good uniform shape, and Life trim adds an adjustable boot floor. At its highest position, it has a usefully large storage area underneath and creates a flat loading area when the rear seat backs are folded down.
There are handles in the Tiguan's boot that drop the rear backrests so you don't have to open the rear doors to do it.
A powered tailgate is standard on Match and Elegance trims for added convenience and is optional on other trim levels.
Strengths Lots of space for occupants and their luggage; versatile rear seats
Weaknesses None that we’ve seen so far
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Volkswagen Tiguan costs more than the equivalent Kia Sportage, Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq but less than a similarly well-equipped BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
With fuel economy figures of around 45mpg and CO2 output of around 140g/km for the 1.5-litre petrol, it should cost a similar amount to run as its rivals.
Company car drivers will find themselves drawn to the eHybrid plug-in hybrids because its electric-only range and low CO2 emissions place it in a lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket than other Tiguans. The eHybrids have a maximum charging speed of up to 50kW.
There are a total of five trim levels to choose from, kicking off with the entry-level Tiguan. It covers the essentials, with 17in wheels, climate control, the touchscreen infotainment system and some parking aids.
We’d recommend paying a bit more for Life trim, which adds three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, 18in alloy wheels, ambient lighting, wireless phone-charging and sat-nav. Heated rear seats are available as an option on Life trim and above as part of the Winter pack.
Match trim is enticing too, because it adds keyless entry, a powered tailgate and rear privacy glass for a small increase in price.
If you want even more luxuries, Elegance is for you. That trim gives you 19in alloy wheels and adds heated seats, heated windscreen washer jets, a heated steering wheel and the massaging front seats. It’s rather pricey, though, costing slightly more than a top-spec Kia Sportage GT Line S.
R Line sits alongside top-spec Elegance, and trades some luxuries for sportier styling and big 20in wheels.
The Tiguan is too new to have been included in the family SUV class of our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Volkswagen came a slightly disappointing 22nd out of 32 brands in the manufacturer survey, below Seat, Skoda and Volvo.
Volkswagen’s standard warranty runs for two years with unlimited mileage then a further year up to a total of 60,000 miles. That’s par for the course, and doesn’t match the seven years you get from Kia or the 10 years available for Toyotas.
The 2024 Tiguan has yet to be tested for safety by Euro NCAP but all versions come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance, as well as traffic-sign recognition and a system that monitors driver fatigue. You also get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to warn of approaching vehicles behind you.
Strengths Lots of standard kit; PHEV has low monthly payments
Weaknesses Higher trim levels are pricey
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The VW Touareg is bigger than the Tiguan, although both offer loads of interior space.
At the top of the Tiguan tree are the Elegance and R-Line trims. They’re both similarly equipped, although R-Line trades some of the luxury kit found on Elegance for a more sportier appearance.
The VW Tiguan Allspace is being discontinued and is expected to be replaced by the Tayron in 2025.
|RRP price range
|£34,070 - £40,880
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|MPG range across all versions
|43.5 - 52.3
|Available doors options
|3 years / 60000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£2,093 / £2,678
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£4,186 / £5,355