The interior layout, fit and finish
To match the aggressive exterior design, the interior of the Tiguan R features a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a plethora of ‘R’ emblems and a pair of figure-hugging front sports seats.
Those seats are more heavily bolstered than the set you’ll find in an Audi SQ5 or base model Porsche Macan, and they hold you in place really well during hard cornering. They’re also very comfortable, even on a long journey, and highly adjustable – you can sit nice and low behind the wheel for that ‘racer’ feel, or perched up high if you want better visibility.
Thin windscreen pillars mean you have a great view of the road ahead, too, and while thick rear pillars restrict your view of what's behind, parking sensors and a rear-view camera minimise the problem. In addition, powerful LED headlights make progress at night a stress-free affair.
Less impressively, Volkswagen has done away with most of the buttons in the interior. Even something simple like adjusting the climate control is done via a fiddly and distracting touch-sensitive panel. Aesthetically, it might be a step forward, but from a functionality perspective, it’s a move in the wrong direction.
On top of that, the ‘touch controls’ on the steering wheel (these replace the physical buttons that you get on the regular Tiguan) are frustratingly easy to activate with an inadvertent brush of your thumb.
At least Volkswagen's range-topping 9.2in Discovery Pro infotainment touchscreen is standard, because it's a sharp-looking system that responds quickly to inputs and features wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. However, it still isn't as easy to operate on the go as the iDrive unit with a physical rotary controller that you get in the BMW X1.
In terms of quality, the materials and fit and finish are decent, with leather, soft plastics and coloured trims abounding, and hard plastics only used low down, where you rarely touch them. It’s certainly a step up from the T-Roc R, but not quite as plush as the Audi SQ5 with its real metal inlays.
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