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VW launches all-new Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

VW launches all-new Tiguan
With sales burgeoning in the compact SUV class, VW has finally let its Freelander competitor out to play.

   



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| First Drive | Budapest, Hungary | VW Tiguan |

Every year, as the language evolves, the Oxford English Dictionary nominates new words and phrases that have become an integral part of everyday life. Recent additions include 'yummy mummy', a phrase I'm sure we're all familiar with at this stage. The new entry should make reference to another relatively new expression: the dreaded school run. No mention of the daily queue outside schools around the country would be complete without bringing up the proliferation of SUVs for the ritual.

Large SUVs do feature - depending on how affluent an area is - but the mainstay of the yummy mummy brigade is of course the more compact SUV typified by the accomplished Land Rover Freelander. Naturally, not all compact SUV buyers use the car solely to transport their offspring to school, but such drivers do account for a significant proportion of sales and it's an expanding market too, with about 600,000 such vehicles predicted to find homes during 2007. That's just taking Europe into account; Americans will buy twice as many, and given the slowly increasing acceptance of smaller cars there, it's likely that sales will increase further over the next few years. Or so VW hopes, as its new Tiguan slots neatly into the segment.

Neat is a good word for the Tiguan's styling. It will offend nobody, yet doesn't really turn heads due to the familiarity of the detailing. The nose is all-new, but other than restraint in the use of chrome it's obviously inspired by the Passat and the Touareg. Indeed, VW made many references to the Tiguan's 'big brother' during the press conference and from certain angles it could be momentarily mistaken for the larger car, thanks mainly to its profile and the shape of the wheelarches. The rear lights are a fresh design, but take the theme found in the Eos and Passat, with an oval shape replacing the perfect circles used in those cars. It must be said that the Tiguan looks a lot better when fitted with the optional roof bars, otherwise barely carrying off the SUV look at all, though that may appeal to some buyers.

Restraint is the design theme on the inside too. Form follows function in most cases; it could best be described as cohesive, though some of the leather colour options brighten things up no end. As with all current VWs, every switch is well damped and sensibly located. Although the Tiguan feels pretty compact from the driver's seat, there is plenty of legroom and headroom, front and rear, and the boot space is good too. The rear seats slide, tilt and split in all manner of permutations and most models will be fitted with a front passenger seat that folds down to allow longer loads to be carried. VW really has tried to capture the versatility usually found in compact MPVs.

A few new features debut on the Tiguan, such as an excellent satnav and infotainment system based around a 30Gb hard drive. Perhaps of less use to most people is the automatic parking feature. It's just a bit too fiddly to use, though obviously the rear-facing parking camera and proximity sensors are a boon. In certain models, the centre console gains a new 'Off-Road' button, which should be thought of as a cut-down version of Land Rover's 'Terrain Response' system. There is just one setting, but several electronic systems are altered to suit off-road driving, including the thresholds for the electronic differential locks and ABS, the throttle map, hill descent and hill climb assistance and even the gearbox calibration for models equipped with the automatic transmission.

However, Off-Road mode will only be available with the Escape trim level, which is also fitted with a completely different front bumper than the regular cars. As well as incorporating underbody protection, this restyle allows a significant increase in the possible approach angle from 18-degrees to 28-degrees. There are other bits and pieces included with the package biased towards users that will venture away from paved roads with their Tiguan.

Volkswagen admitted that it expects the majority of customers to opt for one of the more road-biased trim levels. In the UK, three trim levels are planned: S, SE and Sport with progressively more standard equipment for the price. At the time of writing, the only pricing detail to hand is an entry-level of about £19,500, which would pitch the Tiguan into direct contact with several rivals. Buyers are likely to have the Freelander II, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and maybe even the Mazda CX-7 on their shortlists, though it's possible that current owners of mid-size MPVs will be tempted as well, so long as five seats are enough.

All Tiguan engines will be boosted in some format, with TSI or TDI badges on all cars. Initially, just one of each will be available. The 1.4-litre Twincharger unit puts out 148bhp and 177lb.ft of torque, which should be ample, but despite the torque on tap we found a need to rev this engine to obtain any feeling of decent progress. In contrast, the new 2.0-lire TDI unit is a dream companion. Peak power is only 138bhp, but this unit manages to muster 236lb.ft of torque, which makes it a better car for towing. Not only that, it gives up its performance in a more relaxing manner and of course beats the petrol unit in terms of fuel economy. In the not too distant future VW will release a 168bhp version of the TDI engine, along with 168bhp and 197bhp variants of the Twincharger engine. It's likely that the entry-level TDI model will be the biggest seller.

In comparison to the more obvious competition, the Tiguan drives well. Body control is exemplary and the engineers are particularly proud of the new steering system, though it offers no more feel than any other car of its ilk. Push too hard into a corner and understeer helps scrub off the excess speed, with the 4MOTION system apportioning torque to the wheels it thinks has the most grip. It's not a fun steer exactly, but quite competent. The downside of the Tiguan's solid body control appears to be a fidgety ride. Time was short in Budapest, so we'll reserve judgement on that until we get hold of a proper UK specification car.

British buyers will have to wait until early 2008 to start taking delivery of the Tiguan, though VW dealers will accept orders from November on. If you're wondering where the name comes from, it was voted in by the readers of a German car magazine, reportedly mixing the word 'tiger' with that of 'iguana'. You'll not find it in the dictionary just yet.

Shane O' Donoghue - 27 Sep 2007



  www.volkswagen.co.uk    - Volkswagen road tests
- Volkswagen news
- Tiguan images

2008 Volkswagen Tiguan specifications:
Technical specifications for 2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI 150
Technical specifications for 2008 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 140

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by VW.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by VW.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by VW.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by VW.
 

2008 VW Tiguan. Image by VW.
 






 

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