Volkswagen Tiguan review – family SUV with a trusted formula
Volkswagen has stuck to what it knows for the latest Tiguan, building on the old model with improved practicality
- Refined engines
- Improved interior
- Big boot
- Too many touch-sensitive controls
- Quality dependent on trim level
Verdict – is the Volkswagen Tiguan a good car?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a popular mid-size SUV that’s now in its third generation. Such is the Tiguan's importance, the German brand hasn’t wanted to rock the boat too much and its design is as conservative as always. It does look a bit more like its electric ID siblings, though, and there’s now even more space inside with a hugely practical boot to the rear. There’s also more tech inside with bigger screens and fewer buttons, while the engine line-up sticks with petrol, diesel and two plug-in hybrid options. Its price has crept up this time around, so the Tiguan now faces competition from upmarket brands in addition to the many mainstream rivals.
Volkswagen Tiguan models, specs and alternatives
The Volkswagen Tiguan sits in the German brand’s vast SUV lineup slotting in between the T-Roc and the Tiguan Allspace in terms of size. This generation of the Volkswagen Tiguan is likely to be the last powered by petrol and diesel, with the brand announcing that this mid-size SUV will live on into the future as an electric model.
For now, though, Volkswagen has kept the Tiguan fairly conventional under the skin, with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine with either 128bhp or 148bhp, and a sole 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine. There’s no full hybrid or plug-in hybrid version from launch, and the electric alternative is covered by the similarly-sized Volkswagen ID.4.
The latest Volkswagen Tiguan is fairly conservatively styled and looks a lot like its predecessor, although its design language now incorporates some of the styling cues used on the brand’s electric ID. models, such as the front light bar and curved headlights, so it looks like Volkswagen is narrowing the gap to create a little more synergy across its lineup.
On the inside, the Tiguan’s interior is heavily based on that of the Volkswagen Passat. Unfortunately, although Volkswagen has very recently started to reintroduce more physical controls to address criticisms of fiddly touch-sensitive buttons used in its cars, the latest Tiguan has just missed out on this improvement. Many of its controls are touch-sensitive as a result, although they are now backlit (a criticism of those in the outgoing Volkswagen Golf) and those used on the steering wheel are more conventional and easier to use.
As a general rule, the Tiguan feels well built, though the entry-level version (badged simply ‘Tiguan’) feels a bit dreary on the inside. At the time of writing, the Tiguan comes in five trim levels, and we much preferred the interior of our Elegance test model, which sits one step below the top R-Line trim, getting niceties such as chrome and leather trim, plus three-zone climate control, heated and massaging front seats, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera, though it does cost around £5,000 more than the base model.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is now larger and more practical than before. As a result the rear seats feel big enough for tall adults and the entire cabin feels roomy overall with good visibility. There’s a big boot that’s 37 litres larger than that of the old car, and beats the boots of rivals such as the Ford Kuga, Renault Austral and Toyota RAV4.
Volkswagen Tiguan alternatives
Rivals to the Volkswagen Tiguan include mid-size SUVs which serve as the logical next step up in terms of practicality and size from family hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf. The Tiguan’s price puts it in slightly more upmarket territory than many family SUVs, though there are also some premium SUVs with similar dimensions around the same price.
Mid-size family SUVs
There are lots of mainstream mid-size family SUVs on the market these days, so the Tiguan has a long list of rivals in this area. One of the UK’s best-selling cars, the Nissan Qashqai, is one such model, though rivals such as the Peugeot 3008 offer a little more style. The Tiguan’s appeal is in its sturdy build quality and well-known badge, though its Skoda Karoq sister car offers much of the same kit at a more affordable price.
The Volkswagen Tiguan’s price positions it as a slightly more upmarket option in comparison to other mainstream models, putting it on par with premium SUVs such as the Audi Q3 or BMW X1, which are similar in size, too. That means the Tiguan feels overly expensive when you consider what else you can have on that budget.
Should you buy a Volkswagen Tiguan?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a best-seller globally, but in all honesty, there’s much better value for money if you shop around, because the Tiguan’s high asking price starts to put it up against premium options without the clout of a particularly premium badge. It’s very practical, though, having increased in size compared to the last model, and it offers better build quality than some of Volkswagen’s more recent models.
What is the Carbuyer pick of the Volkswagen Tiguan range?
If we had to pick a Tiguan, we’d go for one of the Life or Match models given the extra tech they offer for the price, but would avoid the entry-level model which looks rather dull. If we were to cover lots of motorway miles the 2.0-litre diesel engine would be our choice, but for a mix of town and motorway driving we’d stick to one of the 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol versions.
How we tested the Volkswagen Tiguan
We’ve driven the Volkswagen Tiguan with the 2.0-litre diesel TDI engine in France in Elegance trim. The roads were fairly smooth where we drove it, so the true test will come when we drive the car in the UK.