2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI Highline Review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI Highline Review with pricing, specs, infotainment, performance, ride and handling, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Volkswagen fits a bigger engine to the Tiguan for much more GO, but it isn’t the pick of the range.
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI
Pricing from $48,490+ORC Warranty three-years, unlimited kilometres Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Power 162kW from 4500-6200rpm Torque 350Nm from 1500-4400rpm Transmission seven-speed DSG Drive 4Motion all-wheel drive Dimensions 4486mm (L); 1839mm (W); 1658mm (H); 2681mm (WB) Turning Circle 11.5m Clearance 201mm Boot Space 615L – 1655L Spare space saving spare Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.1L/100km claimed combined; 9.2L/100km on test
THE VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN was launched locally towards the end of last year setting itself apart from key competitors by being roomier, offering better infotainment and a range of engine choices. And then, earlier this year, VW launched a more powerful Tiguan, the 162TSI. It sits at the top of the tree for the range, but is it the best car in the range?
What is it?
If you read the press guff about the VW Tiguan 162TSI, or you’re a bit of an automotive number cruncher, then you’ll realise the Tiguan 162TSI borrows its engine from the Mark 7 Golf GTI (we’re up to 7.5 now which gets a little more grunt). That means there’s 162kW and 350Nm of torque on offer from the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine which is mated to a seven-speed DSG and gets it power to the ground via on-demand 4Motion all-wheel drive.
The Tiguan 162TSI Highline lists from $48,490+ORC with several cost options, including R-Line adornments (pictured throughout this review) from $4000, panoramic glass sunroof from $2000, driver assistance package $2000 or metallic paint from $700.
Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI Interior
The Tiguan 162TSI Highline offers a classy, well-constructed interior that combines comfort with relative practicality.
Volkswagen is well known for the quality of its interiors and the Tiguan 162TSI as the top-spec Tiguan cements that reputation with materials and design that blends class with hard-wearing practicality. Especially in areas like the centre console which will get pummelled by your phone, bottles, keys, coins and whatever other odds and ends you dump into the hidey holes. And the door cards are hard and scratchy plastic but this makes sense and doesn’t detract from the overall feeling of quality; just think how many of us use our feet to push open the doors and so resistance to scuffing is more important than whether they’re soft to the touch.
The sliding rear bench means you can prioritise rear seat legroom or boot space, but can be problematic if you need both… more on this shortly. And the infotainment unit in either native form or via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity is simple to use and feature rich.
What’s the infotainment like?
The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit is nice and clear and can be used either with its native functionality or via VW’s AppConnect which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The touchscreen offers capacitive touch and thus reacts as soon as your finger gets close to the screen to bring up additional functionality options.
The native system is easily laid out and you simply swipe through the menu system until you get to what you want; as we found with the Amarok, the swipe and touch sensitivity takes a little getting used to. But with shortcut buttons on either side of the screen, it’s easy to delve into the system and almost impossible to get lost.
That said, the native sat-nav is not the brightest of systems we’ve used. On a trip to Melbourne while we were testing the Tiguan, we found that despite the ‘correct’ parameters being applied, it would always direct us through back streets; and if you ignored its instructions it would take ages to recalibrate. And the instructions delivered lacked details. We ran this system at the same time as using both Apple Maps and Google Maps, and both those systems were far superior to the Tiguan’s native sat-nav. So, it’s nice that VW has included it, but you’re better off using a smartphone-based mapping app.
Our test car also had the cost-optional Active Assistance Package fitted which meant the analogue dials were replaced with a 12.3-inch instrument display, offering customisable menus from sat-nav to music. The VW Group system is easily the best of its type.
What’s the passenger space like?
Flexible is a good way to describe it. The rear seat bench which is split 40:20:40 can be slid forwards and back (through 180mm), and when the seats are pushed all the way back, the Tiguan’s rear seat legroom is impressive. The seatbacks can also be reclined and there are ISOFIX mounts for the two outboard seats, and three top tether anchors in the middle of the rear seat backs.
The rear seats are set a little higher than the front seats which means those in the back get a good view and access in or out of the back seat isn’t compromised, although younger children using a booster seat will likely require some extra help getting into the back. There are rear air vents in the back with the ability for backseat passengers to set the temperature to suit themselves, and there’s a 12V outlet for charging devices and pouches on the backs of the two front seats. And because there’s only minimal intrusion by the transmission tunnel, the middle seat in the back is usable as a seat. For an adult.
In the front and the seating position is perhaps more upright feeling than some of this car’s competitors. But that does mean you’re afforded a good view of the road ahead and indeed right around the car; the rear three quarters, so often an Achilies heel on SUVs isn’t one on the Tiguan.
There’s reach and rake on the steering wheel and the driver’s seat offers electric adjustment with three-position memory. The seats are comfortable but not overly supportive; but then, this isn’t a corner carving kind of car, despite what Volkswagen would have you believe.
There are numerous hidey holes (like drawers under the front seats, passenger only in the Highline, an overhead storage container in the back, and more) and the two cup holders in the centre console will carry a medium coffee cup or 500ml water bottle with adjustable ‘holders’, while the doors will hold large 1.5L water bottles. Those in the back will handle a 1L water bottle.
The dashboard layout is nice and neat and the accent strips running horizontally across the dash make it feel larger on the inside than it is. Overall, the interior isn’t particularly exciting but then you’d be hard pressed to call any VW design, exciting, but it is functional and the materials sturdy.
What’s the boot space like?
Over in the boot, there’s 615 litres of space with the seats pushed forwards, pushing them all the way back will obviously reduce the size of the space. Drop the seats and the space grows to more than 1600 litres. The boot offers a double height floor, in its lowest setting it’s a few centimetres below level. The boot is a nice square shape and with the rear seats sitting about half-way through their travel, there was plenty of room for our luggage for five days away and all the other bits and bobs you’ve got to carry but don’t keep in suitcases, like jackets and, in my son’s case, soccer balls. Yes, more than one. Don’t ask.
The auto up and down tailgate is good and quick to respond, although it doesn’t seem to have an auto stop function if it detects an object obstructing its operation as my daughter very nearly discovered the hard way.
One of the features I particularly like about the way VW does its boot floors is that it leaves a little catch that, when you lift the floor will grab and hold the floor on an angle with more than enough room to reach in and remove the spare wheel if needed. There’s a 12V socket in the back and tie-down hooks as well as big levers to drop down the rear seats.
Driving the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI
The VW Tiguan 162TSI packs more punch than its siblings but I’m not so sure that makes it a better vehicle…
The one thing that stands out about the VW Tiguan, no matter the flavour, is just how comfortable and competent it is, and that’s exactly what you want from a family-oriented SUV. In our week with the Tiguan 162TSI we spent plenty of time pounding the highways, in-town and on some twisting country back roads and while Volkswagen’s marketing would have you believe this thing is a hot hatch in SUV’s clothing it isn’t.
Yes, the engine offers plenty of punch, and we’ll detail that in the next section, but the Tiguan 162TSI Highline doesn’t feel any livelier or more dynamic than the rest of the range. And that isn’t a bad thing. This is just a competent and comfortable vehicle to drive; end of story.
The suspension set-up is a little on the stiff side which is great for maintaining composure and controlling body movements in corners, but not so great when you’re crawling across a speed hump or you hit a sharp-edged bump in the road where there’s noticeable thump-through and particularly from the front end. But this low-speed stiffness is a VW trait, as the Passat Alltrack I’m driving now (review online next week) has the same front-end tendency.
But, as I said, the trade-off is that in all other driving situations, the Tiguan feels composed and comfortable. The steering is direct and with enough weight throughout its travel that you feel connected to the front end, but there’s a little bit of lightness in the straight-ahead that I haven’t noticed on other Tiguans I’ve driven. All other controls, like the brakes are nice and progressive in their action.
Now, despite the 4Motion badge, the Tiguan is not an all-wheel drive in the same way that, say, a Subaru Forester is which runs a permanent, symmetrical all-wheel drive set-up. On the contray, the Tiguan is an on-demand system (although you’ll see reference in its marketing materials to it being a permanent all-wheel drive), meaning it’s predominantly a two-wheel drive vehicle (front-drive) to improve fuel consumption, with the rear wheels coming into play when slip is detected at the front.
While some all-wheel drive systems split the drive between front and rear in, say, a 60:40 split front to rear, Volkswagen claims the Tiguan’s 4Motion system offers “no ‘fixed’ distribution of drive forces… if slip still occurs at a wheel, power is redistributed to where it is needed at that time. The system can, if needed, send almost 100% of torque to the rear axle.
The Tiguan also has what’s called 4Motion with Active Control which is a mode selector dial just next to the gear shifter. In a nutshell, activating one of the modes via the 4Motion Active Control will tweak how the throttle pedal feels, how the transmission, steering and adaptive dampers respond, as well as activating hill descent and ascent control and the Off-Road ABS function, as well as both the engine and brake traction controls, which Volkswagen refers to as ASR – engine traction control, and EDL – brake traction control. You’ll see the latter often referred to as a differential lock, but it isn’t. And you can read more about that in this technical review of the Golf GTI which explains everything. The driving situations covered by Active Control are ‘on road’, ‘ice and snow’, ‘off-road’ and ‘off-road.
The all-wheel drive system might only be an on-demand system but it works well and in our week of driving we found it quick to respond ensuring sure-footed progression on wet roads. We did the gutter test (my urban version of Robert’s wash-out test) with it and the system is quick to respond with the EDL, or brake traction control, shuffling torque away from the wheel that had lost touch with the ground and started to spin, across to those wheels that had grip. There was no graunching or clunking, just forward progress was maintained. And I got the same sensation when giving it my full size 11 turning right up a wet hill; that test usually sees front-drive cars judder away as traction control kicks in, but not the Tiguan, there was just progress.
What’s the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI’s engine like?
As Volkswagen has gone to great lengths to explain, the Tiguan 162TSI borrows its engine from the Golf GTI Mark 7, meaning it’s the old car’s tune, rather than the current, slightly more powerful Mark 7.5 variant. That means the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 162kW from 4500-6200rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1500-4400. This is mated to a seven-speed DSG and it matches the old GTI’s 6.5 second sprint from 0-100km/h, which says more about this car than the Golf GTI.
Make no mistake, the engine is a pearler, but it’s not the pick of the range, not for me, anyway. The 350Nm of torque is a decent amount and it’s available across a wide rev range, but on the road, the Tiguan 162TSI comes across as feeling peaky and a little breathless lower in the rev range, which doesn’t seem to tally with the on-paper numbers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of grunt for overtaking or climbing hills and maintain the speed limit, but the 162TSI engine just doesn’t feel as relaxed doing it as do the diesel engines in the Tiguan line-up, indeed the 110TDI gets just 10Nm less while the 140TDI engine offers 50Nm more. Personally, I’d go for the diesel engines.
But there’s more to it than wanting a relaxed drive from a family SUV, it also comes down to the hip pocket and the 162TSI is a thirsty thing, comparatively. It drinks a claimed combined 8.1L/100km, but I couldn’t get it below 9.2L/100km in the whole time I had it. And there was a lot of constant-speed highway driving that should have seen it drink less.
What about the transmission it’s mated to? Well, I’ve never been a fan of VW’s seven-speed DSG as I believe the six-speeder is a superior unit; and that belief holds for the seven-speed DSG in the Tiguan 162TSI. It runs to top gear as fast as possible and can seem a little clumsy at lower speeds in a way the six-speed unit isn’t. If anyone owns a Tiguan 162TSI, I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below.
What about Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI safety features?
Like the rest of the Tiguan range, the Tigaun 162TSI carries a five-star ANCAP rating based on EuroNCAP testing. It scored, and the Euro NCAP testing system notes down data differently to ANCAP, 96% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupant protection, or 41.5 out of 49, and 8.2 out of 13 for its safety assistance systems, and 26.1 out of 42 for pedestrian protection… but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
See, as standard, the Tiguan offers front assist with city emergency braking, active bonnet and lane assist, as well as reversing camera, seven airbags and a multi-collision system as well as driver fatigue measurement. Pedestrian protection is a feature that more and more cars will focus on going forward, and the active bonnet on the Tiguan is a good idea (especially as people spend more time looking at their phone while crossing the road and less at what might potentially collide with them… obviously, I didn’t try it out. When contact is made with the bonnet (there’s no speed mentioned, but you can assume it would have to be more than 10km/h, otherwise bumping the front bumper could set the thing off) the rear edge of the bonnet, at the base of the windscreen, will rise by 50mm to cushion a pedestrian’s impact.
Other safety elements, at least as far as I’m concerned, include, rain-sensing wipers, roll-back function on the one-touch up and down windows for the front and the back (not something all cars get, but should), a reversing camera that offers multi-angle views and dynamic guidelines, as well as all-wheel drive with 4Motion Active Control functionality.
The Drive Assistance Package adds things like Adaptive Cruise Control, and a 360-degree area view when parking, folding wing mirrors with automatic kerb function when reversing, meaning they angle down, and side assist with lane-changing assistant and rear traffic alert.
The Tiguan 162TSI continues Volkswagen’s desire to offer a Tiguan to ever kind of medium SUV buyer. It’s a comfortable car, despite its low speed stiffness, and there’s plenty of room inside the thing thanks to a flexible and practical cabin layout. The 40:20:40 split fold seats than can slide forwards and back and the two-level boot floor make this one of the most versatile medium SUVs on the market.
Would you buy it over the key competitors? Yes. And that’s simply because of the standard safety features, standard kit, cleverness of the infotainment unit and the practicality of the interior; that is a good thing to drive is icing on the cake. But would I buy this 162TSI over another Tiguan variant, particularly either the 110TDI or 140TDI Highline? No, I wouldn’t. And that’s simply because it’s too thirsty and isn’t as relaxed feeling as its two diesel siblings.