Volkswagen Tiguan SUV review
“The Volkswagen Tiguan is a premium alternative to models like the Nissan Qashqai, with plenty of space and impressive technology and engines”
- Quiet and smooth on the move
- Large, well shaped boot
- Nicely finished interior
- Top-spec models expensive
- Not as efficient as some rivals
- Sports suspension is uncomfortable
The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan is a car that doesn’t offer any major advancements over the original but its popularity suggests that it didn't really need to; it's now VW's most popular model globally. The latest version is a popular choice in the medium family SUV market, and it gets sharper styling and upgraded technology thanks to an update in 2020, along with additional engine choices.
Its nose and boot came in for a nip and tuck, plus new technology from the latest Golf was added inside, including an upgraded infotainment system. However, the car is still rather conservative in the styling department compared with rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson and Peugeot 3008.
Practicality continues to be an important part of the Tiguan's appeal; it makes for a logical step up from a Volkswagen Golf for a growing family. There are clever sliding rear seats and a generous 615-litre boot, in a bid to keep rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Skoda Karoq and premium models including the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLC at bay.
The standard Tiguan comes with a choice of three petrol and two diesel options. Most petrol buyers are likely to pick a 1.5-litre TSI engine with either 128 or 148bhp. It can return around 40-44mpg, with CO2 emissions starting from around 145g/km for the less powerful of the two. A more powerful 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine was introduced in early 2021 and is available in 187 or 242bhp power outputs. This engine gets VW’s 4MOTION four-wheel drive system as standard and manages fuel economy of around 32mpg.
At this end of the range, you might also be looking at the new Volkswagen Tiguan R range-topper, reviewed separately. It’s easily the most powerful and the fastest, with 316bhp allowing you to get to business meetings or kids’ swimming lessons very quickly. It manages around 28mpg when driven sensibly.
Thanks to their greater fuel economy, diesel engines have traditionally been popular with Tiguan buyers. There have been four to choose from in the past, starting with a good-value 113bhp model, rising to 148bhp and 187bhp, all the way to a twin-turbocharged 237bhp engine that could only be chosen with 4MOTION four-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox. As part of the most recent update, the range has been changed to consist of a new version of the 148bhp diesel with lower CO2 emissions and a 2.0-litre diesel with 197bhp. Given that diesels are losing favour, it’s very unlikely that more powerful diesels will be offered.
Electric cars threatened to outsell diesel cars in 2021, and Volkswagen EV sales doubled. It’s well-placed here, with the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV (with a similar size and focus to the Tiguan) being its best-selling EV. The Tiguan doesn’t offer a fully electric option, but it does offer a plug-in hybrid called eHybrid. It has a petrol engine, electric motor and battery, with an electric range of up to 31 miles.
Trim levels shift for the facelifted car, adopting the same convention as the Golf. For a short while there was an unnamed entry-level version, followed by Life, Elegance and R-Line. In 2021, an Active spec sat between Life and Elegance. Being a Volkswagen, there's an extensive options list, too, and it's easy to take the Tiguan's price tag far higher than where it started.
Importantly for families, the Tiguan achieved a five-star rating in independent Euro NCAP crash-testing, with an impressive 96% score for adult occupant safety and 84% for its protection of younger passengers. The latest Tiguan came 62nd in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
As a good-looking, practical and well equipped family SUV, the Tiguan is a great all-round package, and more than a match for the Peugeot 3008 or Renault Kadjar, so long as you don't mind its conservative looks. Its image is strong too, and you're very unlikely to struggle to find a buyer when it comes time to sell. Our top pick is the quiet 1.5-litre petrol paired with front-wheel drive and a DSG automatic. In Elegance trim, the car comes loaded with all the kit most families should ever need.