Launched in 2007 the original Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV claimed 2.8 million sales globally including more than 45,000 in Australia. Now itâ€™s time for the second generation and for once the often over-used phrase â€˜all-newâ€™ is accurate here. Due in SUV-mad Australia in September this shapes as one of the most significant new model launches of 2016.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2016
For a major international metropolis with a population beyond 3.5 million the road system of Berlin works surprisingly well. I know that because Iâ€™ve just spent a day driving a circuitous loop of the German capitalâ€™s byways, highways and autobahns. If I was a tourist out for a cruise it would have been a lovely outing.
But as Iâ€™m here trying to get a feel for what the new second generation Volkswagen Tiguan drives like itâ€™s not so satisfying.
Volkswagenâ€™s roll-out plan for the new Tiguan has been curious to say the least. Journos got their first crack at some pre-production examples on snow in Sweden. This time round itâ€™s Berlin streets with a lap of a lumpy vacant lot masquerading as an off-road course thrown in.
Whatâ€™s missing in all this is a mix of roads, speeds and altitudes so we can get a handle on how this thing actually handles. And rides. And steers. And goes. And stops.
The frustrating thing about all this is Volkswagen almost undoubtedly has nothing to hide here. The new Tiguan is based on the same MQB modular architecture as the Golf VII and some familiar Volkswagen drivetrains. Hell, itâ€™s basically a jacked up Golf, with more storage space and â€“ a premium price and equipment package when it gets to Australia in September.
Not that we can tell you much about that now because VW is keeping the details of the package shuttered.
So we suspect the challenge for the Tiguan wonâ€™t be convincing people how it drives, but whether the likely extra spend against the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Australiaâ€™s most popular SUV in this category, is worth it. And maybe, just maybe, the whole dieselgate fiasco and the trust that Volkswagen has breached will turn some people away as well.
You get a sense of why Volkswagen is using the word â€˜premiumâ€™ in relation to the new Tiguan as you approach it. Itâ€™s a stocky, chunky looking thing, built solid, daubed in chrome and riding on alloy wheels that vary from 17 to 20-inches.
But if the exterior is appealing, the interior is the trump card. The quality of the materials you see and touch are unparalleled in this segment. The presentation is handsome and logical, the perceived quality outstanding.
Thatâ€™s apart from the dash-top storage containerâ€™s sticky lid in two of the four cars sampled and the flimsy-looking clear screen for the head-up display that poked out of the top of instrument panel in front of the driver.
All the cars driven were equipped to the hilt with high-end gear like the colour TFT Active Info Display instrument panel. Itâ€™s a first for the segment and the same concept as seen in the latest B8 Passat and also a range of Audis, where the same fundamental system is dubbed Virtual Cockpit.
You can easily dial through a range of screens to personalise the presentation via buttons on the steering wheel. For instance, you can have a navigation screen between the speedo and tacho dials to minimise time spent with eyes off the road â€“ always an advantage when negotiating unfamiliar city roads!
The only problem is the Active Info Display is only likely to be standard on top-spec Highline Tiguans and there were no examples of the orthodox instrument panel to be sampled on the launch.
While the interiorâ€™s presentation is a headline grabber, itâ€™s the added space and comfort that is just as important if VW is to lure the family buyers that populate this segment.
The newly-designed front seats are deep, nicely bolstered and really comfortable. In the back the 77mm longer wheelbase releases a substantial amount of extra space including as much as 29mm more knee room. Thatâ€™s made possible by the rear seat sliding through an enormous 180mm range. It also tilts and split-folds. You can fit basketballers in the back â€“ or young kids.
Head further back and any one familiar with the first generation Tiguan will discover something handy; a proper boot. The new Tiguan provides up to 145 litres more space than its predecessor with the rear seats forward. Split-fold them down and that grows to a huge 1655 litres.
There are some terrific detail touches around the cabin too. The instrumentation across the dashboard and 8.0-inch touch screen is simple and uncluttered, there is substantial storage space spread across door pockets, a sizeable glovebox, a small lidded centre bin and the aforementioned dash-top box.
The lids are all damped beautifully and secured by really solid hinges.
In the back thereâ€™s visible and adjustable air-con vents and a USB plug. In the boot thereâ€™s two storage bins, a 12-volt outlet (230-volt is available), four shopping hooks, seat-fold levers, a security blind and a lower loading height accessed by an electric tailgate (at least on the cars we drove in Germany). Under the floor Volkswagen Group Australia says there will be a space-saver spare tyre by the time Tiguan hits Australia.
Also headed our way are five drivetrains. There are three turbo-petrol (TSI) four-cylinder units; a 110kW/250NmNm 1.4-litre front-wheel drive, a 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre 4MOTION and a 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre 4MOTION thatâ€™s likely to be mated with R-Line specification including sports suspension.
The two turbo-diesel (TDI) are variations of the EA288 (not the dieselgate EA189) 2.0-litre four-cylinder offering 110kW/340Nm and 140kW/400Nm. The price-leader 110TSI will get the choice of six-speed manual and DSG transmissions, while all the 4MOTIONs get seven-speed DSGs.
Three specification levels â€“ Trendline, Comfortline and Highline â€“ will continue for Tiguan. As per the current Tiguan line-up not all engines will be available in all grades.
We had brief runs in the 110 and 140kW TDIs and spent most time in a 132TSI in mid-spec Comfortline trim. This car is at the heart of the range and will probably be the biggest seller.
The diesels showed similar poise and accelerative strength as the 132TSI. We used a 110TDI to test out the â€˜off-roadâ€™ course and it passed with flying colours with the aid of ground clearance boosted to 200mm and the assistance of the latest 4MOTION Active Control Haldex-based permanent AWD system.
This is another cool bit of gear with a high degree of individualisation available for on and off-road use via a rotary dial. Conquering the snow road or the beach track shouldnâ€™t be a drama.
Weâ€™d like to tell you more about all this driving stuff, but as previously explained, we really canâ€™tâ€¦
The next step in this process is the Australian launch and then, hopefully, we will get a better handle on the, erm, handling of the new Tiguan.
2016 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI 4MOTION pricing and specification:
Price: $38,990 (estimated)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel: 7.4L/100km (NEDC Combined)
CO2: 170g/km (NEDC Combined)
Safety Rating: N/A