Volkswagen Tiguan R review

Category: Sports SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 rear tracking
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  • Volkswagen Tiguan R front
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  • Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 rear static
  • Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 front tracking
  • Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 left panning
  • Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 rear wide tracking
  • Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 front static
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Volkswagen Tiguan R is a car with two very distinct personalities, and a big part of that comes down to the tried and tested 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet. Select comfort mode from the drive menu (the car defaults to Sport) and the relaxed throttle response and smooth-shifting gearbox makes the R no more difficult to drive than a standard Tiguan. In fact, in some respects it’s more relaxing, due to the fact the engine is so smooth and pulls strongly from as little as 2000rpm all the way past 5000rpm – the gearbox doesn’t even have to shift up or down that often for you to make rapid progress.

Prod the R button on the steering wheel, however, and the car transforms. The engine note takes on a harder edge, the dual-clutch automatic gearbox fires shifts through with proper gusto and the accelerator response is impressively sharp for a turbocharged car. Granted, with an official 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds, it is a couple of tenths slower than the lighter Seat Ateca Cupra and Volkswagen T-Roc R, but from behind the steering wheel it never feels anything other than satisfyingly rapid – certainly quicker than an entry-level Porsche Macan. And with the optional Akrapovic exhaust fitted (a must-have in our book) you’re even treated to the odd pop and crackle when you lift off the accelerator after hard acceleration.

Of course, with a heavier kerb weight than the T-Roc R, the Tiguan doesn’t feel quite as nimble in the bends and exhibits a little more body lean. But those firmer springs and the standard fit adaptive suspension does an impressive job of keeping the car stable through quick direction changes and the variable ratio-steering, while lacking somewhat in feel, is beautifully accurate and nicely weighted. 

Overall though, it feels like the Tiguan R has been designed for perhaps a more mature audience than the T-Roc. For example, its version of Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system delivers outstanding grip and traction regardless of conditions, and that’s never a bad thing. But rather than being programmed to let you slide the rear end on the exit of corners, like you can in say, a T-Roc or Porsche Macan, the Tiguan R is always working to grab as much traction as possible, so that it can propel you out of the corner as quickly as possible. It’s a clinical and confidence inspiring approach, but not all that fun. In this regard, it’s much like the Audi SQ5

And speaking of the SQ5, the Tiguan R also strikes an impressive balance between body control and ride quality. The Dynamic Chassis Control (aka the adaptive suspension) when slackened off in Comfort mode, do a good job of taking the sting out of larger abrasions in the road, while Sport and Race modes just fall on the right side of acceptable for a Sports SUV – even with the 21in alloy wheels fitted to our test car. 

Volkswagen Tiguan R 2020 rear tracking

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