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Road test: Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.

Road test: Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line
The Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line is certainly not cheap, but just look at it...

 



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Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: stunning appearance, high-class interior, driving manners, practicality.

Not so good: this sort of quality is not inexpensive...

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 2.0 TDI SCR 4Motion 190 DSG
Price: from 23,140; R-Line 2.0 TDI 190 DSG from 36,375; car as tested 42,670
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, seven-speed DSG automatic
Body style: five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 149g/km (Band F, 145 VED annually, if registered before April 1, 2017; 510 first 12 months, 450 per annum for next four years, then 140 per annum thereafter, if registered after April 1, 2017)
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,900- to 3,300rpm

Our view:

It's not often we here at Car Enthusiast, despite our enthusiast leanings, would advise you to head straight for the top end of a particular range, but boy, this second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan certainly invites such counsel. There are five trim grades (S, SE, SE Navigation, SEL and R-Line) and seven engine power trims spread across 1.4- and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol options and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel. And we reckon the peak spec of R-Line, teamed to the second-most powerful motor in the form of the 190hp TDI, is the way to go.

Which is the car we have here. And, if you take our advice, and then go and add a few options as well, you're going to have to wrap your head around the fact that your Tiguan - despite the sharp-suited Volkswagen ostensibly starting from a very reasonable 23,140 - will in fact cost you the best part of 43 grand. For a compact SUV, mind, and not the full-sized Touareg. Wow.

However... it's no exaggeration for us to say we think an R-Line Tiguan MkII in Pure White like this looks abso-bloody-lutely fantastic. Seriously, amazingly fantastic. There are few SUVs, of any price or size, that are as appealing to behold as this Tiguan R-Line. There's just an inherent proportional rightness about the whole thing, with loads of great details to drink in, such as: that mean-as-hell black lower front air intake spread across the full width of the car; the three-bar chrome grille with intricate, scowling headlight clusters either side; the curving, twin-straked bonnet; those flattened-off wheel arches, augmented in R-Line spec by black extensions and housing colossal yet gorgeous 20-inch Suzuka alloys; the meaty side sills and that strident strake through the door handles; cherry-red rear light clusters, of the ilk of the performance Golfs; a twin-chromed exhaust; a roof spoiler...

Can you tell we're infatuated with it? Yes, we're sure you can. Having said all that, we must stress that we believe it is specifically R-Line spec, and particularly in white, where the Tiguan's design works best. Thus equipped, it looks like it should have about 200hp more than it does in this guise and, furthermore, it accomplishes two things: one, it renders the blobby old MkI Tiguan, which was never attractive no matter what its specification, an utterly redundant branch of Volkswagen design; and two, it makes 'lesser' Tiguan MkIIs look precisely that - lesser. We are convinced this is Volkswagen's best-looking car on sale right now, and indeed it might be the sharpest piece of tooling the company has churned out since the Corrado rode off into the sunset in 1995. Some praise, we're sure you'll agree.

The Tiguan's cabin doesn't let the side down either, as it features Volkswagen's typically epic levels of build quality but - crucially - it possesses a bit of visual pizzazz to make sure it's not just another 'sturdy but safe' Volkswagen interior. The switchgear, that DSG gear lever, the buttons surrounding it and the classy trim finishes are all well and good, but the real stars of the show here are the flat-bottomed R-Line multifunction steering wheel and what sits behind it - the 12.3-inch, TFT Active Info Display (AID). It still annoys us that Volkswagen's version of this tech is not quite as configurable as Audi's Virtual Cockpit, but even so it's an instrument cluster that immediately screams 'sheer quality' at the Tiguan's occupants.

As it's an R-Line, you don't want for standard kit, with an XDS electronic diff lock, three-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof with LED ambient lighting, adaptive cruise control with Front Assist and emergency city braking, Lane Assist, Bluetooth, Discover Navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen, sports suspension, Car-Net App Connect, stainless steel pedals and LED headlights all part of a lengthy equipment list. Added to that on this car were keyless entry with a start/stop button on the console (375); an electric tailgate (350); the superb head-up display (495); upgraded Discover Navigation Pro infotainment (1,365); a swivelling tow bar (715), useful as 4Motion Tiguans can haul a mighty 2,500kg of braked trailer; linked to that, Trailer Assist with Park Assist and a rear-view camera (800); progressive steering (195); and Vienna leather, R-branded upholstery with a 12-way electrically adjustable driver's seat (1,475). OK, so tyre-pressure monitoring (130) and the Emergency Assist driver tiredness alert system (395) really ought to be standard specification on such a pricey, upmarket car, but it's not like the Tiguan is sparsely equipped for your considerable outlay.

Having R-Line trim, the 190hp engine and a few toys like this affects the Tiguan's road tax under new VED laws due to come into effect from April 1, though. With the price pushed up to 42,670, that means the Volkswagen passes the 40,000 barrier that elicits an additional 310 VED per year in the first five years of ownership, meaning 1,550 extra tax over a slightly cheaper 190hp model. Whether that bothers you or not rather depends on what you think of a 40k+ Tiguan in the first place, as we're willing to bet if you don't mind the list price then you don't mind a bit extra on VED for the ideal-spec car.

The good news is the Volkswagen is definitely worth every penny of its money, because everything the Tiguan R-Line does is sublime. No, really; it has been the case for a few years now that we often reckon a given Volkswagen model is undone by all of its subsidiary, in-house rivals: SEATs and Skodas are invariably cheaper, bigger and better to drive; while Audis feel a considerable step up the aspirational ladder and are never actually much more expensive than the equivalent Volkswagen. Of course, this Tiguan could easily fall into the same trap, particularly with the magnificent SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq now entering the fray. Yet the R-Line convinces us that you really should fork out the extra required over the Spanish/Czech offerings - and you don't need to look at the Audis Q3 or Q5, either, because the Volkswagen is just wonderful.

The ride is exquisite. For something on 20-inch wheels and running fixed-rate sports springs and dampers, the Tiguan is out-of-this-world comfortable. There is a solid feeling of underlying firmness to the way it controls its body over rough surfaces, but at no point does it ever get close to descending to a level we could describe as 'crashy'. To back up our claims, we did 731 miles in it during a week, involving two long motorway return journeys, lots of local rural-roads commuting and plenty of urban work. Not once did we notice it banging and thumping through imperfections, nor did we ever feel tired getting out if it after a trip - be that after burring 168 miles down to Farnborough (45.5mpg at 51mph) or running a series of errands on local routes. In the end, we spent 17 hours and nine minutes at the wheel in a week, getting an overall 42mpg back at a 43mph average speed, and we could very easily have done more miles.

Brilliantly, all of the sporty promise built up by the exterior is not let down by the drive, because the Tiguan has the same enviably sharp road-holding characteristics of any MQB-based machine. It has particularly good steering, some of the best we've sampled on a Volkswagen barring the Golf R, beefy brakes, another faultless DSG transmission (seriously, it didn't put a cog wrong all week, whether being used in full automatic mode or while we were clicking away on the steering wheel paddles in manual) and first-rate body control for an SUV. Indeed, so much fun to drive was it that we'd put it up there with the likes of the Golfs GTI and R for involvement... OK, it's not quite as good as the latter, but as it's an SUV and not a hot hatch, this is fine company to be associated with.

Monster engine, too. We adore this 190hp/400Nm 2.0-litre TDI in all its applications and it didn't struggle in the Tiguan. It's a remarkably chunky car, tipping the scales at 1,925kg, which does blunt the performance and eco-data somewhat, yet the R-Line always felt decently rapid when required. It has both good step-off and roll-on acceleration, aided and abetted by that wonderful transmission, so while there is a fearsome BiTDI at the top of the tree - with another turbo for 240hp - we reckon you'd be more than happy with the 190hp single-blower model.

Not that it'll be a common sight here. In the UK, most Tiguans are going to be 150hp 2.0-litre TDI 4Motion models in SE Navigation trim. An absolutely fine car, we have no doubt, but for us it has to be the R-Line for the ultimate Tiguan MkII experience. Fit it with a big diesel engine like this and you will not be disappointed in the slightest. We weren't; we reckon it's one of the greatest Volkswagen products we've tried for many a year, making its hefty list price rather more understandable than it first appears on paper (although, having said that, we really can't give five stars to a near-43,000 Tiguan... sorry). And it's so blinking good in all departments that it will make you seriously question why you'd compromise on interior space and boot capacity with an Audi Q3, or even why you'd think about the larger, all-new Q5. As long as you fork out top dollar for the Volkswagen Tiguan, you'll have an absolutely top-notch compact SUV as a result - it's a fantastic car.

Alternatives:

Audi Q3: we could make the case that the Tiguan blasts the bigger, plusher Q5 (either MkI or all-new MkII) out of the water, but it is priced nearer the smaller Q3 - which it easily beats.

BMW X1: and it's much the same story for the BMW X1. Munich's smallest SUV was vastly improved by switching to MINI underpinnings, but the Tiguan feels like a classier act.

Honda CR-V: Honda has aspirations of challenging the German elite; it needs to seriously improve on the CR-V, then, which is very expensive and yet nothing like as all-round belting as the Volkswagen.


Matt Robinson - 29 Dec 2016









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2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.2016 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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