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Volkswagen Tiguan review (2011 onwards)
What: Volkswagen Tiguan
Where: Germany - Austria
Date: June 2011
Price: £21,000 - £27,500 approx (tbc)
Available: On sale end of June, first deliveries September
Key rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V, Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Toyota RAV4
Summary: The Volkswagen Tiguan gets the latest family looks, new tech and new engines - but continues to be quietly competent rather than invigorating
We like: new looks work well, new toys bring premium appeal and extra safety, more efficient than before, usual VW build quality
We don't like: still not exciting, diesel refinement gruff, drivability sacrificed for efficiency?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is one of those cars that's almost exactly how you would expect it to be. Which is to say, a highly competent compact SUV with that safe and secure VW image, but not necessarily terribly exhilarating.
On the other hand, perhaps that's exactly why Volkswagen has now sold nearly 700,000 of them. In just four years, too.
There will be no resting on laurels in Wolfsburg, however, so in line with every other VW product under the sun, the Tiguan has been facelifted with the full 'horizontal lines' family makeover.
As a result it now looks much more like a junior Touareg. Of greater significance to the new version, however, is a comprehensive suite of high technology toys - including adaptive damping, Lane Assist and Fatigue Detection - and an upgraded selection of engines.
Plus it remains the only SUV in the compact class that's available in a specific off-road body configuration, all the better for tackling more challenging countryside obstacles. And pavements.
Six engines will be available to UK Tiguan buyers, neatly split between three diesel and three petrol - we sampled the top spec version of the former and the entry-level version of the latter.
In max-money mode, the 2.0-litre TDI produces 170hp and 258lb ft of torque, so you'd expect it to tickle the 1.7-tonne Tiguan along with hardly any effort at all. This isn't entirely the case.
It's ok on the motorway - although the gruff engine refinement is a touch surprising - but point the diesel at a set of mildly challenging gradients and you'll find yourself doing a lot of gearchanging.
Never mind the quoted 8.9-second 0-62mph time, low speed responses are laggy and revs drop away quickly between shifts - likely due to lengthy ratios, employed to massage the fuel economy and CO2 figures. Shame.
The base petrol is a 160hp version of VW's 1.4-litre TSI twincharger, boosted by both turbo and supercharging. It achieves a modest 177lb ft of pulling power, but the drivetrain delivers the goods in a much more willing fashion.
Which makes it much more pleasant to drive - especially with the notable improvement in refinement that comes with the change in fuel. Uses more of it, of course, and on paper the performance figures say its 0.3 seconds slower to 62mph.
Ride and handling
Volkswagen is offering front-wheel drive and 4Motion four-wheel drive versions of the revised Tiguan - with the two-wheel drive variants labelled Blue Motion Technology models thanks to the inclusion of start-stop and battery regeneration.
The Tiguan has never been the most engaging car to drive - nothing wrong with it, especially, it's just doesn't gel with you in the way a Qashqai, 3008, ix35 or Kuga can - and that's not about to change here.
However, there are a couple of notable differences for the new model. Firstly, Lane Assist appears on the options list; initially seen on the VW Passat CC, this acts to keep the Tiguan between the white lines automatically.
Handy for anyone with a low attention threshold. We suppose. But because it actually acts on the steering - physically pointing the car back towards the centre of the lane - it occasionally generates some really strange sensations when turning corners in a normal fashion.
Since this makes it quite clear you, the driver, aren't entirely in control here we switched it off - which had the immediate impact of improving both the steering feel and the weighting, reducing resistance that otherwise feels too heavy.
Better news is the adaptive damping system. Familiar from VWs such as the Scirocco, this gives you a choice of Comfort, Normal and Sport settings - improving the ride quality or the body control as required.
It works well, but at the time of writing Volkswagen UK was unable to say whether it will be offered as standard on any particular model, or remain optional only.
The Tiguan also gains VW's 'XDS' electronic front diff lock as an option for the first time. Acting like a limited slip differential, and already available on the Golf GTI and other sporty Dubs, this helps cornering in high speed or low grip situations.
Not many changes here - but that's because they were hardly necessary. You still get an unusually large number of vents for the standard air conditioning system and the usual VW high quality of fit and finish.
Some of the materials and details are different, but the key features remain - including a 60:40 slit-fold rear bench that can also slide 16cm forward to increase luggage room (on all models except the entry level S).
Economy and safety
The available two-wheel drive diesels achieve the best CO2 results, emitting just 139g/km with a choice of either 140hp or new entry-level 110hp. That means as much as 53.3mpg combined, VW claims.
The 170hp diesel tested here emits 158g/km while returning 47.1mpg according to EU testing figures; the 160hp twincharger emits 178g/km with four-wheel drive, or 156g/km in Blue Motion Technology two-wheel drive guise.
Two versions of a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol are also available to UK buyers, offering 180hp and 210hp - both emit 199g/km CO2.
Safety upgrades for the new model include the aforementioned Lane Assist option, but you can also have a street sign reading camera and Light Assist, which controls the activation of main beam to avoid dazzling other traffic.
All new Tiguans bar the entry-level S specification also feature Fatigue Detection as standard; introduced on the latest Passat, this monitors the driver for changes in behaviour that suggest falling attention levels, and advises them to stop - for coffee.
The MSN Cars verdict
So, the revised Volkswagen Tiguan features new looks, extra technology and an engine range that offers increased efficiency. Since this kind of thing is unlikely to damage sales we're sure it will continue to be a success.
However, we do feel it's unfortunate the economy improvements appear to have come at the cost of some driveability. And still wish VW had taken the effort to make the Tiguan just a little bit more stimulating. Ho hum.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.4 TSI 160, 2.0 TSI 180, 2.0 TSI 210|
|Engines, diesel||2.0 TDI 110, 2.0 TDI 140, 2.0 TDI 170|
|Power, hp||110 - 210|
|Torque, lb ft||177 - 258|
|0-62 mph, secs||7.8 - 11.9|
|Top speed, mph||108 - 133|
|Mpg combined||33.2 - 53.3|
|CO2, tax||139 - 199g/km, 17 - 29%|
|Ratings||Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 170 Sport|
|Ride & handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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