What Car? says...
The Volkswagen Tiguan family SUV is the German brand's best-selling model worldwide, and it's a popular car here in Britain too.
It's not hard to grasp why – the Tiguan combines family-friendly practicality with a relatively upmarket image and for less money than premium-badged alternatives including the BMW X1 and the Volvo XC40 (especially if you get a good discount, which isn't too difficult).
So, should you stop reading here and just go out and buy one? Well, before you do, the Tiguan will need to prove itself against the even more affordable Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq (which are based on the same suspension and engines).
To make sure it stands the best chance, the Tiguan gets lots of trim levels and engine options, including a 1.5-litre petrol with 128bhp and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model, right up to a 316bhp 2.0 petrol that's exclusive to the Tiguan R sports SUV.
So, is this second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan a great buy or would you be better off with another family SUV? Read on to find out...
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We think the best Volkswagen Tiguan engine option for most buyers is the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine in the 1.5 TSI 150. It needs revving fairly hard to get the very best from it, but there's enough pull from low revs.
The 2.0 TDI diesel also suits the car really well and has more low-rev urgency, but we wouldn't bother spending the extra unless you need the four-wheel drive (4Motion) that comes with Black Edition trim.
For slightly less money, you could have a 128bhp version of the same basic 1.5 petrol engine (called the 1.5 TSI 130). However, while it's up to the job in the smaller VW Golf, it struggles more in the heavier Tiguan – and that will be particularly noticeable if you often drive with a full load of passengers.
If efficiency is a priority, the eHybrid is for you. It's a PHEV that combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, producing a total of 242bhp. It's plenty fast enough to get up to motorway speeds promptly, and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds.
When the eHybrid is running on the electric motor alone, it’s strong enough to keep up with traffic around town, but performance quickly tails off at higher speeds. The official electric range is 34 miles, but it's likely to be closer to 25 miles in real use.
To read about the quickest Tiguan – the R version – see our VW Tiguan R review.
Suspension and ride comfort
By family SUV standards, the Tiguan rides very well indeed. It smooths over bigger road imperfections, such as speed bumps, better than the BMW X1 and the unsettled Jaguar E-Pace yet its suspension is firm enough to prevent the body from bouncing up and down too much along undulating roads.
As you’d probably expect, versions with larger wheels are less comfortable, and the eHybrid’s additional weight means it’s not as forgiving over potholes. The X1 xDrive25e PHEV suffers from similar issues.
If ride comfort is a priority for you, we’d suggest a Range Rover Evoque or a Volvo XC40.
The Tiguan handles more like a conventional hatchback than many of its SUV rivals. Some drivers might find the steering a little too light, but it’s precise and helps you feel in control of what is quite a hefty chunk of metal. It’s barely any trickier to manoeuvre in tight multi-storey car parks than a Golf.
There's not much body roll through corners and all versions have plenty of grip, with the four-wheel-drive 4Motion models offering good traction in slippery conditions. The X1 and the Seat Ateca are even more agile through the twisty bits, but the Tiguan outshines plenty of other family SUVs, including the Jeep Compass, the Nissan Qashqai and the Vauxhall Grandland.
The R Line model comes with 10mm lowered sports suspension as standard, but that doesn’t do a lot to make the Tiguan more fun to drive.
Noise and vibration
The Tiguan's 1.5 TSI 150 engine is relatively hushed at low revs, apart from the odd whoosh and whistle from the turbocharger.
It starts to get quite vocal when you rev it harder, but you don't feel much vibration through the controls – both noise and vibrations are more noticeable in the Audi Q3 fitted with the same engine. Manual models have a feelsome clutch pedal and pleasant gearshift, while the DSG automatic versions shift smoothly on the move, but can be jerky during low-speed manoeuvres.
The 2.0 TDI is fairly quiet by diesel standards, although it's more boomy than the petrols when worked hard. The eHybrid, meanwhile, is eerily quiet when running on electric power alone. As long as you don’t rev it hard, it remains fairly quiet even with the petrol engine running – it’s the quietest of the Tiguan range, even when it’s not in EV mode.
At high speeds, you will hear a flutter of wind noise around the door mirrors, but there’s minimal road noise unless you opt for a version with 20in alloy wheels.
Strengths Comfortable ride; strong engines; refined engines
Weaknesses Not as dynamic as some rivals; PHEV’s EV range isn’t overly impressive
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Getting comfortable in the Volkswagen Tiguan is easy, thanks to plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, well-positioned pedals and a handy rest for your clutch foot.
Granted, you don’t sit quite as high up as you do in the Volvo XC40, but you still feel like you’re driving a proper SUV rather than just a jacked-up family car. Adjustable lumbar support for the front seats is standard on all but the entry-level Tiguan trim.
If you’ve spent time in other cars from the Volkswagen stable, you’ll soon find your way around the Tiguan’s dashboard. However, it's disappointing that the designers have decided to do away with almost all the buttons. Replacing physical controls with small, touch-sensitive pads has made even changing the temperature setting more distracting on the move.
R Line models take that even further by replacing physical buttons on the steering with touch controls that are frustratingly easy to activate with a brush of your thumb. All versions come with a versatile 10.25in digital instrument panel, which replaces analogue dials and can clearly show you all sorts of useful information.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Luckily, to make parking a doddle, all versions come as standard with front and rear parking sensors. Elegance trim adds a reversing camera, too, while R-Line and above also get Park Assist, which allows the car to park itself.
Your visibility will be great at night thanks to automatic LED headlights coming as standard across the range.
Sat nav and infotainment
The screen is rather small by modern standards and is mounted quite low on the dashboard, but it's sharp and quick to respond to prods.
We’ve also tried the optional 9.2in Discover Pro system, which adds gesture and voice control functions that, frankly, don't work very well. It's relatively keenly priced, but is best avoided. The infotainment system in the BMW X1 is much more user-friendly.
The Tiguan doesn't have the most exciting interior in the business, but it's typically Volkswagen. That means plenty of soft-touch plastics and controls that operate with a reassuring precision.
You'll find some hard, scratchy plastics lower down on the dashboard, but it's kept away from the areas you regularly touch. Even so, premium-badged alternatives in this class, including the Range Rover Evoque and the Volvo XC40 all have much classier interiors.
Strengths Comfortable driving position; good material quality; great digital driver display
Weaknesses Fiddly touch-sensitive controls
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There’s plenty of room in the front of the Volkswagen 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, two cupholders and a cooled glovebox.
All models get handy drawers under the driver and front passenger seats – perfect for hiding valuables if you need to leave them in the car.
If you try to squeeze three adults into the back of the Tiguan, the person in the middle is likely to feel a bit pinched, but leg room will only be an issue if you're particularly tall. The panoramic roof on Elegance models (optional on other trims) eats up a bit of head room, though.
If you’re only carrying a couple of rear passengers, they can use the central armrest, which includes two cupholders. Heated rear seats are available as an option, and Isofix child-seat mounts are standard on the outer rear seats.
Seat folding and flexibility
All models come with a fold-flat front passenger seat to help when carrying extra long loads. They also have 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 the Volvo XC40 – plus they can be slid back and forth or reclined.
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.
The Tiguan has a seriously big boot by class standards, with 615 litres of space in non-PHEV versions. You'll fit more in it than you would in the BMW X1 or the Nissan Qashqai (which can swallow seven carry-on suitcases).
There's only a tiny lip to lift luggage over when the standard height-adjustable floor is set to its highest position. The Tiguan eHybrid PHEV is down on space compared with the regular models, by 139 litres, but there’s still a usable amount of space available.
The boot is a useful square shape and comes with net partitions. If you want to raid the options list, you can add dog guards, boot trays and a range of other practical accessories. A powered tailgate is standard on Elegance for added convenience and is optional on other trim levels.
As you might expect, sliding the rear seats all the way forward increases luggage space substantially at the expense of rear leg room. If you want even more boot space, you could consider the larger VW Tiguan Allspace.
Strengths Lots of front space; versatile rear seats; large boot
Weaknesses Tight for three rear passengers
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Volkswagen Tiguan costs more than the equivalent Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq but less than a similarly well-equipped BMW X1 or Volvo XC40. It’s a similar story with PCP deals, with slightly higher interest rates and lower deposit contributions meaning there’s a premium monthly cost. Have a look at our New Car Deals pages to see the latest offers.
If you're buying outright, it's particularly important to get a good discount, because depreciation is likely to be slightly heavier than in premium-badged alternatives. While the Tiguan compares well with the XC40 and the Range Rover Evoque when it comes to fuel economy and CO2 emissions, it can't match the Peugeot 3008.
Company car drivers who are looking to keep their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax payments low will find themselves drawn to the eHybrid, as its electric-only range and low CO2 emissions place it in a lower tax bracket than other Tiguans.
Equipment, options and extras
There are a total of five trim levels to choose from, kicking off with the entry-level Life trim. It gets 18in wheels, adaptive cruise control, three-zone climate control, wireless phone-charging and the sat-nav and parking aids.
If you want more luxuries, Elegance is for you. That trim gives you bigger 19in alloy wheels and adds heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-view camera, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof. It’s rather pricey, but if you've got the cash for it, we'd also look at the XC40.
R Line trades a few of the Elegance’s luxuries for sportier styling and big 20in wheels, plus it's even more expensive, so it's objectively hard to recommend. On top of that, you can also have R Line Edition and Black Edition, which add extra styling elements. Buyers looking for maximum performance will want to read our VW Tiguan R review.
The petrol Tiguan placed mid-table in the family SUV class of the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, while the diesel was further down the table, placing in the bottom third.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen as a manufacturer performed rather disappointingly, placing 22nd out of 32 brands and finishing below key rivals Volvo, Skoda and Seat.
Volkswagen’s standard warranty runs for two years with unlimited mileage then a further year up to 60,000 miles. That’s pretty par for the course, and doesn’t match the seven years that you get from Kia or 10 years offered by Toyota.
Safety and security
The Tiguan scored five stars out of five for safety when it was tested by Euro NCAP, with no major concerns identified. That was back in 2016 though, and the rating has now expired, due to the tests getting more stringent every year.
It's hard to compare the result with newer car models, but the Volvo XC40 and some others are likely to protect you and your family even better in an accident.
All versions of the Tiguan come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance, while upgrading to Life trim adds traffic-sign recognition and a system that monitors driver fatigue. If you want blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert, you'll need to pay extra or go for Elegance or R-Line trim.
Strengths Lots of standard kit; PHEV has low monthly payments
Weaknesses So-so warranty and reliability record; higher trim levels are expensive
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No. While the current Tiguan will be off-sale fairly soon, that’s only to make way for the new 2024 VW Tiguan.
|RRP price range||£30,995 - £37,870|
|Number of trims (see all)||1|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, hybrid, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||176.6 - 54.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£832 / £2,352|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,664 / £4,704|