Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The best-selling Tiguan is the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel model (badged 2.0 TDI 150) and it's easy to see why; it offers a fine blend of performance and fuel economy, whereas the cheaper 115 version (with 113bhp) feels a little short of puff. There's also a 190 version of the 2.0 TDI engine that delivers plenty of punch but is rather pricey, while the range-topping 240 version brings yet more pace for an even more eyebrow-raising price.
If you’re more interested in petrol power, the entry-level 125 model puts out 123bhp from its turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. However, while it's the most affordable model in the range, it struggles a bit up inclines, especially when loaded up to the gunnels. The 150 version is better, but still lacks the low-rev pulling power of the diesels.
As for the 2.0-litre 180 petrol engine, it feels fast and is quick off the line, thanks to all-wheel drive coming as standard. It doesn’t quite have the in-gear flexibility of the diesels, though, but around town you’ll have little issue with the decent performance it offers and out on the motorway there’s no problem overtaking.
Suspension and ride comfort
By small SUV standards, the Tiguan rides very well indeed. It smooths over bigger imperfections, such as speed bumps, better than the BMW X1, yet the 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 – but compared with its key rivals the Tiguan is comfortable. Even the sporty R-line trim is bearable, if not as good as lesser models. If you want a more settled ride, you'll need to choose something with a lower centre of gravity, such as a VW Golf.
We wouldn't bother with the Tiguan's optional adaptive suspension. It doesn't improve the ride that much and there are more worthwhile extras to spend your money on.
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, making the car easy to place on the road. There isn't too much body roll through corners and all versions have plenty of grip, although the four-wheel-drive 4Motion models unsurprisingly offer better traction in slippery conditions.
True, the X1 and Seat Ateca are even more agile through the twisty bits, but the Tiguan outshines most other small SUVs, including the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage. The R-line model is available with sports suspension but this doesn’t make the Tiguan any more fun.
4Motion models add a dial next to the gearlever that allows you to select different modes depending on the terrain and initiate a hill descent system. A further option is adaptive chassis control – this allows you to stiffen or soften the suspension to prioritise either ride comfort or flatter handling.
Noise and vibration
The petrol engines are especially smooth, even when being worked hard, and while the diesels sound a bit clattery at tickover and when you really put your foot down, they're still muted at a cruise and far from raucous when accelerating. That said, the diesel engines in the rival X1 are slightly quieter.
At high speeds, you will hear a flutter of wind noise around the Tiguan's door mirrors, but virtually no road noise unless you opt for a version with really big alloy wheels.
The manual gearbox is light and easy to use, while the DSG automatic is smooth and soothing the vast majority of the time, with only the occasional jerk at low speeds.