Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 BlueMotion TDI review (2011 onwards)
Model: Volkswagen Tiguan SE BlueMotion Technology TDI 140 4Motion, £25,645
Bodystyle: Five-door compact SUV
Engine: 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel, 140hp @ 4,200rpm, 236lb ft @ 1,750-2,500rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual gearbox, 4Motion four-wheel drive
What is it?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is the closest thing to a VW crossover you can currently buy. Technically a compact SUV, it nonetheless aims to deliver a driving experience that is as car-like as possible while also offering the improved visibility and sense of security that comes with a taller, chunkier vehicle.
To this end it is potentially the archetypal ideal family car for the present times - since it blends so many currently desirable attributes. That combination of easy driving from a higher perspective sets a tone that's only enhanced by the refined Volkswagen image and the quality of finish that comes with it.
Add to that a selection of some of the best turbodiesel and turbo petrol engines available right now and you've got quite the recipe. In fact, it's such a... sensible proposition we actually found the whole thing rather boring when we drove this revised version during its international launch.
But how does the Tiguan fare back home in the UK?
Where does it fit?
This particular example is the ideal real world specification for anyone who isn't planning to do anything more challenging than mount the occasional pavement or cross a slightly damp field: the 2.0-litre TDI 140 with BlueMotion Technology and 4Motion four-wheel drive.
That 140 represents the horsepower, making this the mid-spec diesel version; BlueMotion Technology means it has start-stop and other eco goodies as standard, while the four-wheel drive adds reassurance when the weather turns inhospitable.
Rivals range from the inevitable Nissan Qashqai - even more car-like again - through the smart-driving Ford Kuga and the engorged Honda CR-V to the more premium Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque, though you might also consider the Hyundai ix35 and the Volvo XC60. Or maybe a regular hatchback.
Is it for you?
Volkswagen continues to pull off its most remarkable trick - the ability to appeal to all kinds of people; the image is strong enough to be aspirational without ever coming across as pompous enough to provoke resentment. You could take one of these anywhere, and no one will judge.
Strong enough to be aspirational without appearing pompous
This creates a kind of built-in anonymity, however, so you probably aren't going to pick a Tiguan if you want to stand out. That said, this revised version, with the latest VW family vogue for horizontal lines and sharper definition, certainly looks less amorphous than its predecessor - in our opinion.
Gladly, the almost ephemeral appeal that Volkswagen projects is far from superficial where the Tiguan is concerned. While it is unlikely ever to really get your heart racing, it has enough of a general feel-good factor that it quickly becomes a very satisfying vehicle to spend time with.
What does it do well?
As you can probably tell, the Tiguan has impressed us far more in the UK than it did on the international launch. Poor weather and some tortuous climbs on the test route exposed gaps in the power delivery that you'll never notice in regular driving.
In fact, hacking around the roads of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, the 174hp, all-wheel-drive Tiguan comes across as incredibly well rounded. That image, the way the cabin feels so solid, the performance, the space - it's actually pretty hard to fault.
The standard suspension (as opposed to the £750 optional Adaptive Chassis Control) delivers predictable body control and well-judged steering, giving the VW a chunky SUV feel yet enough feedback that you can hustle it along at quite a lick. It's no sports car, but it goes well. Great engine, decent traction.
What doesn't it do well?
What you can't do with the standard suspension is make the ride softer. Which generally speaking isn't an issue - but occasionally you'll hit a more ragged patch of tarmac, and if you're travelling at speed this can cause an unsettled moment or two.
Take this as a sign that you're approaching the limit - and the occasional reminder is no bad thing in a 1,655kg SUV. It's testament to just how good the Tiguan really is that you're not often dynamically reminded about this or its raised ride height.
Beyond that, we'd argue that the interior is on dull side - it's definitely of the 'inoffensive' school, if not quite the charmless - while the ergonomics left us struggling to find an entirely comfortable driving position. We'll accept the electronic handbrake as a necessary evil these days.
What is it like to live with?
As the above suggests, living with the Tiguan is generally a pleasure. Passengers are unlikely to turn their noses up when they climb onboard, and there's plenty of space front and rear. It seems unlikely you'll spend much time worrying whether you've made the right choice.
A consideration is the relatively high lip
Very little seems to faze this car. With such a responsive engine and a chassis that feels unflinchingly grippy it comes across as an excellent all-weather warrior. That anonymity in its character becomes more like quiet confidence very swiftly - it's as if it knows it has nothing to prove.
It also has all the latest VW safety kit either already fitted or available, giving you the distinct impression it wants to look after you. This includes Driver Alerts as standard, making sure you're still awake, but we're not so keen on the optional Lane Keep Assist, as this does funny things to the steering.
One minor gripe that may be a consideration is the relatively high lip to the boot. Those looking for a more off-road orientated vehicle, meanwhile, can always spec a Tiguan Escape - which features different bodywork for more versatile green laning.
How green is it?
That BlueMotion Technology badge means the Tiguan tries its best; the start-stop system works as flawlessly as you'd expect, and VW has optimised as many other systems as possible to save fuel without compromising the ownership experience.
The biggest compromise would be to do without the four-wheel drive
So, the Tiguan retains a decent level of refinement, for example. But the biggest green compromise you can make is to do without the four-wheel-drive system.
With it, CO2 emissions increase from 139g/km to 150g/km, while claimed fuel economy is reduced from 53.3mpg to 48.7mpg (you can expect to see late 30s or perhaps early 40s from the 4Motion in real life). 0-62mph remains identical at 10.2 seconds; however, top speed drops from 120mph to 116mph.
Would we buy it?
Be in no doubt, the latest Volkswagen Tiguan is a very strong all-round contender that should suit a lot of people. There are perhaps more interesting and more 'individual' choices out there, but the VW ticks so many boxes it's extremely hard to dismiss.