Volkswagen Tiguan SUV
Price: £21,520 - £31,590
- Spacious interior
- Quality cabin
- Powerful and quiet engines
- Dull design
- Poor equipment levels
- Limited off-road ability
"The Volkswagen Tiguan is a comfortable five-seat family car that offers plenty of practicality and rugged 4x4-inspired looks."
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV that rivals cars like the Ford Kuga, Hyundai ix35 and Skoda Yeti. It may have the pumped up looks of a 4x4 but it hasn’t been designed for serious off-roading. The Tiguan is more at home in towns and on motorways – as the raised ride height, high driving position and spacious dimensions are mainly for show and to allow for plenty of interior space.
In addition to being practical it's also fun to drive, safe and has a high quality cabin, too. There is a choice of four specification levels: S, Match, Escape and R-Line – all of which can be had with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. All the engines in the line-up are smooth, powerful and efficient – and there's even a BlueMotion version that offers excellent economy.I
The car is quite expensive – rivals like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 have considerably lower entry-level prices. The Tiguan is also relatively poorly equipped, as kit levels on base-spec cars are sparse. Still, the Tiguan offers a far higher quality interior than you’ll find on any of its competitors.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy and efficiency are decent but no match for some rival cars
The most efficient model in the range is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel BlueMotion Tech model, which comes equipped with stop-start, regenerative and brake energy recovery. It will do 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km CO2 – that puts it in tax band E and will cost £125 per year. That's not too bad for what is quite a big vehicle, but it's a long way behind the best in class. The most efficient Skoda Yeti model will do 61.4mpg and 119g/km CO2, for example, and the Mazda CX-5 offers similar figures. Opt for a Tiguan with an automatic gearbox or 4MOTION four-wheel drive system and the figures become considerably worse. The worst performer when it comes to running costs is the 2.0-litre TSI 4MOTION, which does just 33.2mpg and emits 199g/km CO2 – enough to put it in tax band J with an annual cost of £260.
Interior & comfort
Reasonably comfortable, quiet and relaxing on all surfaces
The standard suspension set-up in the Tiguan is reasonably comfortable – although don’t expect limousine levels of comfort. The ride is firmer on higher spec Sport and R-Line models, too, which makes those cars feel a little unsettled over bumpy roads.
The interior is really spacious, and the quality of the materials in the cabin is first class, as is fit and finish. The controls are intuitively laid out, too. The interior is well insulated from engine, road and wind noise and the high driving position and comfortable seat makes the Tiguan a really relaxing car to drive.
Practicality & boot space
Spacious interior and big boot means the Tiguan is very practical
The boot on the Tiguan is a generous 470 litres – which is bigger than the boots on the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Qashqai, although it's a good 33 litres shy of the capacity of the Mazda CX-5's. The rear seats can be slid forward and back to increase legroom or boot space and if you fold the rear seats flat – which you can do easily with one hand – luggage capacity expands to a very useful 1,501 litres. That rivals the capacity on offer from many mid-range estate cars. The only downside to the boot is that it has quite a high load lip, which makes getting heavy objects in a little awkward. The cabin is really spacious, with enough space for five adults and plenty of head and legroom in the front and back.
Reliability & safety
Reliability should be first rate and safety is impeccable
Volkswagen has a great reputation for reliability but hasn’t performed particularly well in customer satisfaction surveys as of late. It was voted 16th out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer rankings – behind brands like Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Kia, Honda and Mazda. The Volkswagen Tiguan came 57th in the Top 100 cars, which is a pretty decent performance but some way behind rivals like the Kia Sportage (49th), Toyota RAV4 (44th), Mazda CX-5 (5th) and Skoda Yeti (1st).
Some diesel versions of the Tiguan were recalled in 2008 over a wiring problem, but there have been no major issues reported since and the car feels high quality and well put together, so we wouldn’t anticipate any reliability issues. It got the maximum five-start safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests, too. All models come with six airbags, traction control, electronic brake assist and ISOFIX points for child seats.
Engines, drive & performance
Handles surprisingly well for a big crossover car
Plenty of crossovers feel a bit unwieldy on the road due to their soft suspension setup and raised ride height – but the Tiguan feels relatively agile. It does lean a little bit in corners but Volkswagen has managed to keep this to a minimum. The steering is responsive and there's plenty of grip – especially with four-wheel drive models, so the Tiguan handles pretty well. There is a choice of three petrol engines and two diesel engines. The 108bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel in the BlueMotion S models is the highlight of the range. It has the least power but still performs pretty well and offers by fat the best economy and efficiency. There's also a 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel, a 158bhp 1.6-litre TSI petrol and a 178bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol. The range-topper is a 208bhp 2.0-litre TSI that some serious pace with the downside of seriously high running costs. The 4MOTION four-wheel drive system offers a limited amount of off-roading ability – which you can improve by opting for an Escape specification model with hill-descent control and a raised front bumper – but the Tiguan will never be a match for a proper off-roader.
Price, value for money & options
High list price and poor equipment levels compared to rivals
The Tiguan is priced between more upmarket premium rivals like the Audi Q3 and mainstream models like the Kia Sportage and Skoda Yeti. It's positioned in a sort of mid-range niche with the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga. The Yeti, Sportage and Hyundai ix35 offer similar levels of space and a whole lot more equipment for less money. But the Tiguan offers a more desirable badge and a higher quality interior – whether you think that's good value or not depends on your priorities as a buyer. We’d argue that the Tiguan looks a bit on the expensive side compared to the superior Mazda CX-5.
What the others say
"Few buyers are likely to use a Tiguan for heavy-duty off-roading but with VW's tried and tested 4MOTION four-wheel drive set-up the SUV is easily capable of light off-road duties. On tarmac the light controls and tall driving position combine with compact proportions to make it easy to drive. It is agile and all three engines provide plenty of performance."
"The cabin is terrific - really well-designed and finished, with VW's typical high standards of build quality. However, it's all starting to look a bit samey - get behind the wheel of a Golf and you struggle to spot the difference."
"VW reliability might not be as legendary as it was. But that Beastie Boy medallion still cuts some sway in snobby Surrey suburbs."
"The Tiguan is great to drive, thanks to responsive engines and a finely balanced chassis. It has a pleasingly smart image, too, with a classy, spacious and flexible cabin."
Last updated: 25 Feb 2014