Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We’ve yet to try the latest Volkswagen Tiguan in 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel form, but this engine offered a fine blend of performance and fuel economy in the previous version, providing more than enough punch for town and motorway alike. In fact, it was such a great fit for the Tiguan, whether you’re travelling alone or with the family, that the more expensive, more powerful version seemed unnecessary.
The 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine is predicted to be the most popular engine in the line-up, though, and we can see why; it offers similar pace to the diesel for less money. The only caveat is that you need to work it quite hard to get the most out of it. But that’s easy enough with the unobstructive six-speed manual and, once you get past some initial hesitation, even easier with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The eHybrid runs a similar set-up to that used by the Volkswagen Golf and Passat PHEVs, combining a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. In electric mode, the top speed is 81mph and the battery provides an official range of 31 miles with enough acceleration to keep pace in traffic. When the petrol engine joins in, it brings near-hot hatch performance when you want it (0-62mph takes just 7.5 seconds).
Suspension and ride comfort
By family SUV standards, the Tiguan rides very well indeed. It smooths over bigger imperfections, such as speed bumps, better than the BMW X1 and the unsettled Jaguar E-Pace, yet its suspension is still firm enough to stop the body from bouncing up and down too much along undulating roads.
Patched up roads and broken Tarmac can unsettle the Tiguan a little – especially if you choose a version with big alloy wheels (R-Line cars get massive 20in alloys) – but compared with most key rivals the Tiguan is comfortable – only the Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque feel more plush, although the Skoda Karoq runs it close. If you want a more settled ride, you'll need to choose something with a lower centre of gravity, such as the Golf.
Unfortunately, the plug-in eHybrid models are a little less forgiving along pockmarked roads, because the extra weight of the battery makes bigger demands of the suspension.
The Tiguan handles more like a conventional hatchback than many of its SUV rivals; it's genuinely enjoyable to drive. Some may feel the steering is a little too light, but it’s precise, and helps you feel in control of what is quite a hefty chunk of metal. The wheel lightens up appropriately at lower speeds, too, so it’s no trickier to manoeuvre in tight multi-storey car parks than in a Golf. There isn't too 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.
True, the X1 and Seat Ateca are even more agile through twisty bits, but the Tiguan outshines most other family SUVs, including the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage. The R-Line model is available with sports suspension but this doesn’t really make the Tiguan any more fun, just a bit more tied down round curves. The eHybrid, meanwhile, is the least sporty model in the line up. With the weight of its extra batteries it feels a little wallowy through the bends and its front end is quicker to wash wide in tight corners, but that’s also true of Volvo’s family SUV plug-in hybrid, the XC40 Recharge.
4Motion models add a dial next to the gearlever that allows you to select different driving modes depending on the prevailing terrain, as well as a hill descent system to assist on steep inclines.
Noise and vibration
The 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol 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. Manual models have an easy to modulate clutch pedal and pleasant gearshift, while automatics shift very smoothly on the move, but can occasionally be jerky when manoeuvring.
We’ve yet to sample the diesels in the updated Tiguan, but in the previous model they sounded a bit clattery at tickover and when being revved hard. The plug-in eHybrid, meanwhile, is eerily silent when running on electric power alone. And even when its petrol engine is running, this is the quietest Tiguan you can buy.
At high speeds, you will hear a flutter of wind noise around the Tiguan's door mirrors, but there’s minimal road noise unless you opt for a version with really big alloy wheels.
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