By Bill McCarthy
THE translation of Volkswagen into English could well describe the latest version of the firm’s hugely popular SUV.
‘The people’s car’ is very apt, with the VW Tiguan having sold six million worldwide since its introduction in 2007. So popular it took another nine years for the second generation to come along in 2016 and now that model has had a major revamp at the end of last year.
It is Europe’s best selling SUV and gets a new trim line-up and a choice of petrol, diesel and hybrid power units, together with design and technological advances.
Already one of the most stylish and recognisable on the market, it retains its muscular SUV look, sitting high off the ground with stylish 18-inch alloys. However the rugged look is softened with roof rails, rear tinted glass, LED Matrix headlights flanking the slim grille and large air flow ducts below.
The firm’s Y-structure trim allows for two range toppers. It starts with Tiguan, then Life and a choice at the top end of Elegance for luxury, and R-Line, driven here, being the sportier model. This features 20-inch ‘Misano’ alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension, bespoke bumpers and rear roof spoiler, as well as upgraded light clusters.
This model featured the hi-tech 1.5-litre TSI, 150 PS engine, mated with the familiar, slick-shifting 7-speed DSG transmission. The engine features cylinder deactivation, shutting down two cylinders under certain conditions to boost mpg and reduce CO2 emissions.
The interior is much improved with the digital instrument panel ‘cockpit’ and the eight-inch touch screen dominating. The touchscreen controls navigation and sound system which includes DAB radio, and connectivity with streaming and internet capabilities. Smartphones can be hooked to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via screen mirroring.
In typical VW style the interior is solidly built with high quality fixtures and fittings, together with high-end soft touch finish to dash and doors and leather bound steering wheel and gearshift.
It is a comfortable place to be, with 30-colour ambient lighting, heated front seats, sports steering wheel with touch control function, brushed stainless steel pedals and a black headliner and aluminium scuff plates displaying the R-Line logo.
On the road the engine is refined, with plenty of grunt, and whether in full auto mode or having fun with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, is an engaging drive. Acceleration is brisk, hitting 60 in just over nine seconds and on to a top speed of 121 mph, if you fancy it, driving on the German autobahns.
Considering its high-off-the-ground stance, it feels stable, even when cornering at higher speeds, while the steering is nicely weighted and direct. The gearshifts via the dual-clutch box are barely perceptible, particularly around town. On the motorway is a comfortable cruiser with plenty of torque to aid overtaking at higher speeds, with only road noise from the large alloys occasionally intrusive and, if being really picky, some wind noise from the door mirrors.
The cylinder technology helps to deliver impressive real-world economy, with nearly 40mpg possible according to the WLTP figures and CO2 emissions of 143 g/km.
There are multiple space and stowage options via the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats which also slide back and forth. It has a large boot, which comes with the option of ‘kick’ operation for easy remote opening and easy loading, and partitions for keeping items separate.
The generous 615 litres increases to a huge 1,665 with the seats folded flat. In addition a large bin between the front seats offers further stowage space, as do the roof rails.
There is a full complement of airbags, plus features like stability and traction control together with Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Assist and front and rear parking sensors, as well as a Driver Alert System and Dynamic Road Sign Display.
The R-Line also features Emergency Assist and Travel Assist over the Elegance trim model, facilitating Level 2 autonomous driving at speeds of up to 130 mph (where permitted).
The entry-level trim kicks off with a generous raft of equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights and the goodies mount up as you move up through Life and then twin range toppers Elegance and R-Line.
Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 1.5 TSI 150 DSG
Price: £ 32,135
Mechanical: 1498cc, 150PS, four-cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels via seven-speed DSG auto transmission
Maximum speed: 126mph
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds
Economy: 38.8 mpg
Insurance group: 20E
CO2 emissions: 165g/km
BiK rating: 36 per cent
Warranty: three years, 60,000 miles