In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Tiguan SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Petrol and diesel engines perform well and the Volkswagen Tiguan is comfortable

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.8 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Tiguan won't set pulses racing, but it's very quiet and smooth, especially when fitted with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control, which allows you to adjust how firm the suspension is. When in Comfort mode, these adaptive dampers can make the Tiguan very smooth, even over poor road surfaces and with the larger 20-inch wheels fitted.

The top-of-the-range R-Line trim turns this on its head. While the model's sports suspension means the Tiguan feels more composed at speed and has more agile steering, it's less comfortable over bumps in the road. Unfortunately, however, this sporty suspension setup doesn't completely resolve the car's propensity to lean under heavy cornering.

The steering has plenty of ‘feel’ so the Tiguan is easy to place accurately and with confidence. In general terms, the VW does a good job of isolating you from wind and road noise and feels very car-like and easy to handle.

Volkswagen Tiguan diesel engines

The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine suits the Tiguan well, easily coping with the car’s weight. Volkswagen's DSG automatic gearbox is also smooth and responsive in most situations, but if you put your foot down in a hurry, it can take its time to think about which gear it needs to select. We preferred this engine over the more potent 187bhp diesel, which had a curiously uneven power delivery that made the Tiguan hard to drive smoothly, and is no longer available. It has been replaced with the same 197bhp diesel engine fitted in the Volkswagen Golf GTD.

The more powerful 237bhp twin-turbo diesel was a surprisingly quick car. The prodigious power available from low revs all the way up the range meant it dealt with overtakes easily.

Petrol engines

For buyers who don’t need four-wheel drive, the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine is arguably the sweet spot of the Tiguan range.

There isn't a huge amount of pulling power to get the Tiguan moving but above 3,000rpm there's a reasonable turn of speed, with 0-62mph taking nine seconds. The six-speed manual is good, with a light and precise action.

A 2.0-litre petrol engine is also available with two power outputs and gets four-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The base 178bhp version is a decent performer, going from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds, which is a healthy increase over the smaller petrol engine. Opt for the 242bhp version and you get the same engine as the latest Golf GTI. This gives the Tiguan a serious performance boost, with 0-62mph taking six seconds.

Volkswagen is also introducing a range-topping Tiguan R that uses the same 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine used in the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R. Power has been increased to 316bhp and it also gets four-wheel drive, an upgraded chassis and larger brakes to cope with the extra power.

Whichever engine you choose, the Tiguan is a quiet car to travel in. Only the wind rushing around the door mirrors disturbs the calm slightly, although this is by no means intrusive. There’s a little noise from the engines when worked hard, but this is true in all but the most luxurious cars.

Hybrid engine

Unlike VW’s GTE models, the Tiguan eHybrid powertrain is available across several trim levels. It has a combined output of 242bhp, and gets from 0-62mph in a nippy 7.5 seconds. The eHybrid may have a GTE badge next to the gear lever, but it isn’t meant to be a hot Tiguan. Acceleration feels fine, but the six-speed automatic gearbox takes too long to kick down when you want a burst of power. The Tiguan eHybrid is far smoother than many plug-in hybrids when it comes to switching between electric and hybrid power. That smoothness sums up how to drive the Tiguan best; it doesn’t reward heavy acceleration, but stay at a relaxed pace and it’s very pleasant.

The hybrid Volkswagen Tiguan isn’t quite as fun to drive as the Ford Kuga PHEV, but body roll is kept in check nicely. A ‘B’ mode lets you increase the level of brake regeneration, which harvests more energy to top the battery up when you come to a stop. Our R-Line test car was firm, like petrol and diesel versions, but versions with smaller wheels should be more comfortable.

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