IT has been a long eight years since the first edition of the Tiguan arrived in Australia, time in which competitors caught up and then pushed forward adapting to a burgeoning and demanding SUV market that has yet to show any sign of running out of steam.
The executives at Volkswagen admit there may have been a miscalculation on their part in failing to read the growing popularity of SUVs and crossovers of all sizes but they are keen to make up for lost time, with five new vehicles of that ilk scheduled to make their appearance here in the next two years.
This second-generation Tiguan has been chosen to lead the charge. The first SUV to be built on the MQB platform - shared with the Golf 7 and Passat - it is bigger, bolder and blingier than its predecessor. It will need to be all that and more because the race has heated up in the past eight years, with only the most fearless likely to stamp some authority.
Volkswagen says it is concentrating on the one-percenters that make a difference, those little finishing touches or small luxuries that allow them to bring "premium to the people" and give buyers that overall feeling of satisfaction.
In this Tiguan, it's things like the felt-lined box on the top of the dash, the brushed door pockets, the rear air vents, even the storage net in the passenger footwell and the integrated buttons controlling the infotainment system - all features, one might add, that combine seamlessly with the larger more noticeable elements to give the interior of the new Tiguan a more refined and cohesive feel.
The cabin is understated yet highly functional, with the centrally located 8.0-inch touchscreen - standard across the range - not only aesthetically pleasing but also super easy to operate.
Seats are cushioning and comfortable, whether in fabric or leather trim, although the rear bench did seem a tad flatter in the base models.
Wider and longer than its predecessor, this SUV also addresses the old lack of space criticisms by offering up oodles of room for shoulders and heads, knees and feet, both in the front seat and the back.
Boot capacity is impressive too, class-leading VW claims, with a sizeable 615litres growing to 1655 with the second row folded.
Engines and transmissions
With two diesel and two petrol powertrains, this Tiguan range offers a host of options.
The entry-level 1.4-litre 110TSI starts off proceedings, paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG in a Trendline or Comfortline spec and offering up 110kW and 250Nm of torque.
The active cylinder management system allows for two of the four cylinders to remain on standby until needed, lowering fuel consumption and emissions.
The 2.0-litre 132TSI, in Comfortline spec, gets a seven-speed DSG and 4Motion all-wheel drive with outputs of 132kW and 320Nm.
Both diesel variants - the 110TDI Comfortline and 140TDI Highline - share the same 2.0-litre engine, tuned differently of course, and a seven-speed DSG.
Low down torque is a grunty 340Nm for the 110TDI and 400Nm for its more powerful counterpart. The 140TDI is also offered in a R-Line with adaptive chassis and 20-inch alloys, while a third petrol, the 162TSI, will be available early next year.
On the road
We spent time in all offerings except the 110TSI manual, which was unavailable, during the SUV's Australian launch in the beautiful surrounds of the northern NSW hinterland on a mix of rural, urban and highway drives.
There is a lot riding on the success of this Tiguan and certainly from initial impressions, it is doing a lot right. In fact, even the 110TSI - and don't tell VW since they didn't want us taking the front-wheel drives off-road - was accomplished off the bitumen, on the same roads that were once part of the Australian World Rally Championship mind you.
Yes, there was more understeer and use of the stability control but it was a smoother, more cushioning ride. The switch from two to four cylinders was noticeable though, if not on the ear then on the slight hesitation before it composed itself and moved along.
Overall, all variants were more than up to task - flat into the corners, well balanced despite the extra height and rather responsive, with a fairly communicative steering.
The pick for us, though, was the 132TSI, expected to be the volume seller here. It felt more settled for some reason, more willing off the mark, with plenty of zip when needed.
What do you get?
Pleasingly, standard inclusions on the Trendline are noteworthy and stretch to an 8.0-inch touchscreen fronted infotainment system with app-connect USB interface, auto headlights and wipers, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, reverse camera and dual-zone climate control.
The Comfortline adds 4Motion all-wheel drive, sat nav, extended roof storage console, chrome roof rails and window surrounds, tri-zone climate control and folding tables for rear-seat passengers.
For the additional money, the Highline will buy you keyless access, electronically operated tailgate, electrically adjustable driver's seat, steering mounted paddles, Vienna leather upholstery, LED dynamic cornering headlights and power folding door mirrors.
Safety is five star and comprehensive, including standard features like lane assist, front assist with city emergency brake, multi-collision brake, driver fatigue detection and park assist. The Driver Assistance package ($2000) also brings adaptive cruise control, side assist with rear cross traffic alert.
The Tiguan range is covered by VW's three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with a capped-price servicing program. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km.
VW has moved the Tiguan into the medium SUV market, a segment with more than a rich handful of competitors. The Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Renault Koleos, Ford Kuga, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail for starters, with the R-Line coming up against the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
With its improved space and list of features and safety inclusions, the Tiguan makes good sense for young and growing families and couples without kids who like a little bit of adventure.
We like the large cargo capacity, clever in-cabin storage options and upmarket feel. Having air vents for the second row is welcome too, but it's odd, given the $50,000 price tag, that the 12.3-inch customisable digital dash and sunroof are not standard in the top-of-the range models.
Designers have jazzed up the exterior of the Tiguan to give the impression of power and confidence. With defined lines, a wider stance, higher shoulder line and new integrated grille and light detail, the Tiguan blends style and function.
It may have been a long time coming but this latest Tiguan leaves an impression. Volkswagen needs this SUV to inspire passion and confidence in the brand and strive for the same sort of success as the Golf enjoys.
The price may be a stumbling block but Volkswagen is not worried about being the cheapest in the segment but one that will sit in its own territory and entice the market to respond to quality, engineering and styling. Time will tell.
Driving experience 17/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 17/20
Model: Volkswagen Tiguan.
Details: Five-door, front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive, medium SUV.
Engines: 110TSI: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 110kW @ 5000-6000rpm and peak torque of 250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm. 132TSI: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 132kW @ 3900-6000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm @ 1500-3940rpm. 110TDI: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo- diesel generating maximum power of 110kW @ 3500-4000rpm and peak torque of 340Nm @ 1750-3000rpm. 140TDI: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 140kW @ 3500-4000rpm and peak torque of 400Nm @ 1900-3300rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed DSG and 7-speed DSG.
Consumption: 6-7.5 litres/100km combined for petrol and 5.9l/100km for diesel.
Bottom line plus on-roads: Tiguan 110TSI Trendline 6 Speed Manual $31,990, 110TSI Trendline 6 Speed DSG $34,490, 110TSI Comfortline 6 Speed DSG $36,990, 132TSI Comfortline 7 Speed DSG $41,490, 110TDI Comfortline 7 Speed DSG $42,990, 162TSI Highline 7 Speed DSG $48,490, 140TDI Highline 7 $49,990.
What matters most
What we liked: Comfortable ride and driving dynamics, spacious interior, excellent safety.
What we'd like to see: Driver assistance package for base model, more responsive from standstill.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing program.
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