Volkswagen Tiguan review: Plush and capable SUV, but is it worth the money?

VW’s new SUV for India is plush and capable. But should you spend so much for one?

autos Updated: Jul 03, 2017 12:18 IST
Gavin D’Souza
Gavin D’Souza
Autocar India
Autocar India review,Volkswagen Tiguan review,Volkswagen Tiguan
The new Volkswagen Tiguan is a powerfulSUV but ditches muscular aggression for some straight-line styling. The price it comes at, you might have second thoughts.(Autocar India photo)

Say hello to the Tiguan. It’s Volkswagen’s entry-ticket into the booming Indian SUV market, but priced at Rs 27.98 - 31.38 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi, pre-GST), it’s not cheap. In fact, it costs as much as big, burly, seven-seat 4x4s like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. However, it’s closer in size to the Hyundai Tucson, but unlike the Korean, it gets all-wheel drive as standard. VW, meanwhile, positions it as a cheaper alternative to compact luxury SUVs like the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA!

So the Tiguan’s positioning is a little ambiguous, but VW cars’ appeal generally lies in their solid build quality, the latest technology and typically restrained German styling. The latter is immediately apparent. Save for the wheel arches, the Tiguan’s exterior design is made up entirely of straight lines, the most notable one being the deep shoulder crease that flows into the LED tail-lamps. The grille with the big VW logo at the front is standard VW fare, but at least the large LED headlamps do stand out a bit. Even the 18-inch alloy wheels on this Highline variant look good, but the Tiguan looks more like a hunkered down crossover than that a rugged SUV. The design should age well, but it just doesn’t have the flamboyance of the Hyundai nor is it as imposing as a Fortuner.

The interior is where VW’s solid build and high tech come into play, and boy, have they done a stellar job here. The dash design, like the exterior, is restrained, and a few coloured plastic bits would have livened-up the all-black themed interior. Mind you, the ambience improves drastically at night when the subtle LED ambient lighting comes on.

Fit and finish is just outstanding, with rich soft-touch plastics on the dash top, and near perfect panel fitment. Yes, many switches are carried over from other VW cars but they all work crisply. And then there’s the equipment list which is properly vast and good enough to rival a proper luxury SUV. It gets automatic LED headlamps, automatic wipers, cruise control, an electric driver’s seat with memory settings, an electronic parking brake with hill hold, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, three-zone automatic climate control, paddle shifters, push-button start, heated front seats, tyre pressure monitoring, a big touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, a powered tailgate, two separate sets of driving modes for on and off-road, and a massive panoramic sunroof. On the safety front, there are six airbags, ABS, ESC and even a bonnet that rises up in a frontal crash to reduce the impact on a pedestrian, should you accidentally hit one.

Then there’s the seating. There’s black Vienna leather all around with elegant grey piping around the edges. The front seats might feel a little slim for larger frames, but the driving position is quite good. Even the passenger seat gets height adjustment. The second row offers loads of legroom and headroom, although the rear bench set a little higher would have given a better view out and more thigh support. The seat splits 60:40 and can be slid back and forth, and reclined. However, this function is more to increase the already copious 615-litre boot. And so, it’s best to leave the seat pushed fully back and reclined as far as it goes. You also get a space-saver spare tyre, but VW says you’ll rarely need to use it as the tyres are self-sealing; a gel inside them will automatically seal up small cuts and punctures as they happen.

The only engine on offer is a 2.0-litre diesel unit mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic and 4Motion all-wheel drive. This engine even gets some fuel-saving tech wherein it decouples itself from the gearbox in Eco mode when you’re coasting to reduce fuel consumption.

It produces 143hp and 340Nm, which feels quite adequate for this 1.7-tonne SUV. After a slight grumble at startup, the motor settles into a decently quiet idle, and when you do hear it again at about 2,000rpm, it’s still impressively contained.

The gearbox is great at getting the Tiguan off the line smoothly and provided you maintain a constant rate of acceleration, it will continue smoothly all the way to sixth and seventh gears. It’s only when you are a bit erratic with your accelerator inputs that it fumbles, sometimes showing a reluctance to upshift or downshift. The solution - press on with a little more authority. You get a nice surge of power around 2,000rpm, and in ‘Sport’ mode, it revs freely all the way to 5000rpm.

From behind the wheel, it feels like you’re driving a taller Jetta, and that’s a quite impressive. The steering feels decently quick and sharp, and for a car this tall, the Tiguan doesn’t wallow or sway much around bends either. But the highlight is the ride quality. Thanks to the tall, 55-profile tyres, it rounds off bumps really well, with only the nastiest of them thudding into the cabin. This allows it to cruise smoothly at high speeds on highways.

Volkswagen Tiguan factfile
  • Engine: 1968cc, 4-cyls, turbocharged Diesel
  • Power: 143hp @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 340Nm @ 1750-2750rpm
  • Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Price: Rs 27.98 - 31.38 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi (pre-GST)

On paper, the VW Tiguan is a bit of a hard sell. It’s priced against big, premium SUVs but is a size that’s a segment lower. Plus, it doesn’t have that imposing stance that you expect of an SUV, nor does it have a posh luxury badge, like BMW, Audi or Mercedes. However, its Volkswagen-typical traits will allow it to appeal to a very specific customer. The interior quality and the equipment levels are good enough to belong in a proper luxury SUV, there’s loads of space for five and their luggage, and the ride quality is just superb.

Now, the Tiguan is unlikely to become a sales sensation, but there’s undoubtedly a small pocket of people that will appreciate premium German engineering at a slightly lower price than what luxury brands offer.

First Published: Jul 03, 2017 11:23 IST