Volkswagen Tiguan Driven


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Are you someone who was a fan of Geometry in School/College and that fascination is still alive today? Are you someone who loves clean lines in their cars and are not a fan of fluidic design? Are you someone who loves a SUV which is subtle and yet a head-turner? Are you someone who loves to go occasionally on roads less taken and not worry about getting stuck? And lastly, are you someone who wants a thorough German-bred, but does not want to spend 50+ huge lakhs on a SUV?

If you are that someone, I think we have found a perfect SUV for you, the Volkswagen Tiguan. Why do we say so, read on…

Before we get into the actual review of the Tiguan, let me touch base quickly with the history of the car present with us. The first generation Tiguan was introduced by Volkswagen in 2007, and it then used the PQ46 platform, which also was used by the B6 Generation Passat. The name Tiguan to be pronounced are TEE-gwan, is a portmanteau of the German words Tiger and Leguan. The first generation version sold from 2007 to 2017, with first facelift in 2011.

The second generation Tiguan came along in 2016 and Volkswagen launched the SUV in India in the third quarter of 2017. For the second generation Tiguan, Volkswagen uses the MQB platform, which it shares with the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia, Skoda Kodiaq, Skoda Superb and their own Passat. As of today, the Tiguan is sold in more than 150 countries and with more than 5 million owners worldwide.

Now, lets look at the car shall we.

Design Language - Exteriors

First glance at the Tiguan and you know, you are looking at a German car. Ze Germans like to keep things simple, and that shows with the Tiguan. The design has proportional cuts and creases at various places, but never does it appear particularly busy or cluttered. It is obvious that the sole focus of the designers was understated elegance rather than being funky or standing out from the crowd.

The front is marked by the typical Volkswagen family look, which is in line with the B8 Passat and even the MK 7 Jetta. Unlike the Jetta however, the Tiguan doesn’t get the trapezoidal front grille, Volkswagen has instead ditched it for a simpler twin slat grille with chrome inserts. While the international Tiguan’s get Halogens or LED headlamps depending on the variant chosen, the Indian spec car comes with LED headlamps as standard across the two variants it is offered in. Further lending the front an SUV-ish look is the larger than life air dam and the low placed fog lamps which give the face a subtle squirt. Talking about the fog lamps, they don’t get LED lamps, but have to do with regular bulbs. Another noteworthy aspect is that the use of chrome has been kept to a minimum, which is something we loved.

The side profile is yet again a no nonsense affair with a dash of black cladding running across the sides, further helped by the flared wheel arches and a strong character line that runs across the shoulder of the car before merging with the tail lamps. The 18 inch alloys on the Highline fill up the flared wheel arches quite well. The uniquely styled ORVMs which have been mounted on the doors directly rather than the A-pillar do give it a compact SUV vibe.I particularly loved the way the OVRM’s fold-in once closed. It gives the SUV a classy stance, even when its standstill. The window line has a chrome finishing to it, which gives the SUV the much neededadditional dash of elegance.

The rear end is a mish-mash of several merging lines again, which you might have already guessed it, numerous geometric shapes coming together. The tail lamps are typical Volkswagen-Audi group stuff, with a boomerang like shape and crystal elements incorporated inside. It is noteworthy that only the Highline gets the full LED tail lamps while the Comfortline has to make do with Halogen units.

With 615 litres of boot capacity, the boot is large enough to carry your weekend bags and more. What particularly helps further is the smart trunk which opens automatically by just swaying your leg below the car. It was much easier here as compared to any other SUV that we have tested with this feature in this category.

Build quality is solid inside out. Panel gaps and shut lines are tight and consistent all around as expected at this price point. Nothing feels loosely put together or an afterthought. Even the doors shut and open with a solid thud, that comes as expected from the German cars overall.

All in all, the Tiguan comes across as a typical VAG group car. It has a subtle yet noticeable presence, doesn’t scream for attention and most importantly has a design that will age well over time.

Now let’s step inside the car…

Design Language- Interiors

Getting into the Tiguan is quite easy, you simply get in rather than sitting down. Once inside, you will immediately start to appreciate the simplistic design language. The interiors reciprocate the understated design philosophy of the exteriors, and that might be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. For instance, there is no wow feeling that you get once you sit inside, but spend a bit more time and you will start to appreciate the smaller touches. The way everything is put together for instance, with no ungainly panel gaps or rough edges and the tactile feel of the buttons and knobs is up there with the best.

The seats are well contoured and offer good support for all types of builds. The driver gets a 12 way electrically adjustable seat with all the usual bank of adjustments and a memory function to store both seat and ORVM settings. Both the driver and passenger also get adjustable headrests that can be moved fore and aft. The passenger unfortunately has to make do with manual controls although it does include both height adjustment and lumbar support. However, for the SUV which is touted as their flagship SUV (for India Market) and goes against the likes of its own sibling, the Kodiaq, I think, Volkswagen should consider adding electric seats with memory function for the front co-passenger seats through as and when they update the SUV next.

What we didn't quite like was the hard plastics used at various places. Mind you, the quality of plastics is not bad at all, its just that you expect soft touch plastics on top of the dashboard at this price point. The top half of the dash is grey in colour while the bottom is a darker jet black. This, combined with the piano black accents thrown in makes the cabin look a bit busy. Additionally, some people might miss beige interiors for the sense of space that they offer, although black is undoubtedly a more practical choice. It helps you keep the car looking cleaner and meaner for a long duration.

Coming to the equipment list, the Tiguan gets an analog instrument cluster flanked with a colour MID in the centre, panoramic sunroof, footwell lighting, ambient lighting, auto headlamps, auto wipers, auto hold, electro-mechanical park brake, three zone climate control, cruise control, rear view camera with park assist sensors and the likes, all of which are a compulsion at this price point. What the Tiguan misses out at this price point is a 360 degree camera, mood lighting, auto park, a virtual display, better sounding audio setup (more on that later) and an in-built navigation, which to someone extend, though not needed in today’s era of Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, however, at places where the network is poor, in-built navigation does come handy.

The centre console houses a 8 inch touch screen system. What I particularly loved about it was it’s positioning which is angled and marginally titled towards the driver, hence giving the driver a comfortable view of what’s on the screen without taking eyes of the road. Also, it helps to navigate through the menu, that much easier. The screen is reminiscent of any other VW group’s screen, with the latter having similar menus as offer on any Volkswagen/Skoda cars. The screen doubles up as an audio unit as well as the cars central command centre, as from here you can control all the functions of the car.

Audio duties are taken care by the 8 speaker set-up, with tweeters next to the door handles and speakers next to the bottle holders. With right tweaking and tuning, the quality of sound is acceptable. However, if you are an audiophile and very particular about how your music library sounds, I am afraid, you will have to look someone else.

Step in the second row, and you are greeted with ample space. What further aids to that space is the sliding and reclining seats. The seats are abreast, offer excellent lumbar and thigh support and one can easily spread out legs and take a quick nap on way back home after a tiring day at work or on those long journeys. Infact, our resident photographer, fell off-sleep after a days work while on our return leg. When asked how did he feel after that power nap, he said- “fresh and raring to go again”

The genesis of the statement largely lies in the way the Tiguan handles and rides. But before we go there, let’s take a sneak peak inside the bonnet to see what’s under the hood.

Performance- Engine, Gearbox& Drivability

Step inside the cabin on the drivers seat, depress the brake pedal, fire the start-stop button, neatly integratedon the central tunnel and the engine comes to life with a mild rumble. Pop open the hood and once again doing its duties here is the Volkswagen’s very own tried and tested, 2.0 TDi. This 1968 cc engine dishes out, 143 hp and 340 nm of torque, which is almost identical to it’s sibling, the Kodiaq from Skoda. Considering its full 80 kgs lighter to the Kodiaq, the Tiguan darts off the line like there’s no tomorrow. While in Kodiaq this engine felt a bit strained with 4 people onboard with some luggage, however over here the engine is at quite ease. What aids further to help make progress is the brilliantly synchronised 7 Speed DSG gearbox. At no times, did the gearbox feel confused. I darted through the traffic gaps, the gearbox chose the right gears, sprinted through the open roads, the gearbox chose right gears, even on winding hills, never did the car feel out of breadth. Again, thanks to the brilliant gearbox choosing the right gears. All in all, Tiguan is capable of cruising all day long doing triple digit speeds without you as a driver feeling strained or tired.

What particularly, is a no go to this combination is the noise level of the engine. SUV of this class, begs to have a cabin which is well insulated from the engine noise. Not that the noise is rough or groany to bother you much, but it does intrude into the cabin. It simply steals the feeling of being calm and serene inside the cabin. Not sure if this was the case with the car we reviewed or a problem in general. If not, probably Volkswagen can look at adding better deadening material to contain the sound. However, on the positive note, the vibration and the harshness from the engine is pretty much non-existent. To help you have some fun behind the wheel there are 4 driving modes on offer, tuned right from economy to individual preference. These are, Eco-Drive-Sport-Individual

The Eco-Mode helps in extracting maximum fuel efficiency by tuning in the gearbox to upshift really early and moment you lift off the accelerator pedal, the gears momentarily disengage and the rpm falls down to idle, letting the car coast. Even the steering wheel becomes the lightest in this mode.

The Drive-Mode is tuned towards your everyday driving mode. The gears upshift at shade of 2000 rpm and the progress is as expected. On highways, with drive mode selected, Tiguan comfortably cruises down the highway, at speeds around 100 kph with the tachometer hovering around 1800 rpm-2000 rpm depending on the load and road gradient.

The Sport-Mode is more tuned towards the spirited driver in you, progress made is brisk as the gears hold on a higher rpms before upshifting. The steering weighs tad more than it would in Drive-Mode and overall the already agile car, feels more lively.

The Individual- Mode is a combination of multiple factors put together where you can choose from various settings and tailor them to suit your preferred driving style.

The Tiguan does come with a convenient 'auto hold' feature which is an absolute boon in the city. While the vehicle is waiting at a signal, you can lift your foot off the brake pedal and the vehicle will stay in place. No need to keep the brake pedal continuously pressed. When you press the throttle, 'auto hold' immediately disengages. You do feel that small pause when starting off, as the brakes disengage before the car starts moving.

Performance- Ride & Handling

The Highline variant of the Tiguan, which we reviewed, came shod with 18 inch alloys, that coupled with a stiffly set suspensions, theride I would say is certainly not choppy, but you do feel the undulations on the road. Those occasional thuds do filter in the cabin. The 149 mm ground clearance may not be class leading, but thanks to the superbly tuned suspensions, the SUV never scrapped below, even during our off-roading endeavour.

We first thought, that taking this ultra cool, urban SUV in an rustic in-urban environment would be pretty un-cool thing to do. But boy of boy, we did come out mighty impressed with Volkswagen’s 4-Motion technology? Ohhyes we did. Put the car in the right mode, and then it is raring to go to anywhere you want to take it. Mind you, this is no Endeavour or Fortuner to do things which a body on frame SUV’s can do, however show it a mild off roading track, the Tiguan won’t disappoint you.

There are 4 modes to choose from- Snow, probably, won’t be of much use in Indian context. Normal, for your everyday mode, Off-Road Standard, where the car chooses the parameters and automatically transfers power to the wheels stuck, or off Road Individual, where you can choose where you want the power to go, albeit with an interference/help from the system. We did go mild off roading and the car performed flawlessly. Not single time did she scrap anywhere, and nor it felt like an hurricane task to get her out of can get stuck here situations.

All in all, the Tiguan, managed to feel at home, even in her uncharted territory.

Dimensionally, the Tiguan is more squatish as opposed to being longish. This tremendously helps in the way she handles. The SUV is able to hold to its line, most of the time like a car, and infact drives and handles like a car. There is no uneven swaying or wobbling that gets associated with cars with higher centre of gravity owing to higher ground clearance. What I particularly liked was the quick lane change manoeuvres did not unsettle the occupants inside. The steering weighs up pretty nicely, and gives a good feeling of being confident behind the wheelbarrow

Our Tiguan, also came with Volkswagen’s My Connect App, which practically gives insightsabout the vehicle status, your driving pattern, tips to improve your driving style, and trip logsright at your fingertips. All what is needed is the dongle that Volkswagen provides and the Volkswagen Connect app that you need to download and pair the phone once via Bluetooth. Once paired, you will be asked to login using your credentials if you have created or would be asked to create a new account. Once done, voila, all the related information is made available real time to you right on your ph

The Verdict

Volkswagen globally has positioned the Tiguan, as a Compact Utility Vehicle (CUV), and we quite agree with them. The Tiguan is compact on the outside, but spacious on the inside. But should you buy the Tiguan only because of this? We would say No.

However, You must buy the Tiguan, because there are no uneven lines which scream your attention not to influence you but to confuse you. Instead there are lines which are seamless and draw parallels from the world of mathematics, geometry to be precise. You must buy the Tiguan, because it is understated, and subtle, yet makes yours and everybody else’s head turn every time you park it in the garage and walk off. You must buy the Tiguan, because, you can drive her to your power packed boardroom meetings and make a statement while you get down in the office lobby, take her to evening parties with your besties and let them feel mesmerised to the magnificent clear sky views through the massive Panoramic Sunroof and a soothing white ambient light all around oroccasionally go with your friends to roads less taken, without sweating a break as the 4-Motion will ensure, it pulls you out of those mucky situations, without getting stuck.

Lastly, you must buy the Tiguan, as no other SUV in its category comes closer to the German build quality and safety ,2.0 TDi’smotors practicality, Modern Day 7 Speed DSG gearboxes’reliability and an understated elegance that only Volkswagen cars offer, at a price which is almost half of what the big three Germans ask.

Are You That “You” who needs what we said about the Tiguan. Then ladies and gentlemen, we think, we just found your next SUV- The Tiguan.

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About Author
Nilesh Sawant
Nilesh Sawant

With an experience of over 3 lac kms of driving across the continents and with extensive experience of driving on the tracks, and passion for technical things around anything on wheels, reviews written by Nilesh are crisp and to the point.  

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