2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The new Tiguan is bigger, better equipped and better to drive.
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline
Pricing From $41,990+ORC Warranty three-years, Unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12-months or 15,000km Safety Five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power/Torque 132kW/320Nm Transmission Seven-speed DSG Body 4486mm (L); 1839mm (W); 1648-1658mm (H) Angles 25.6-degrees approach; 24.7-degrees departure Ground Clearance 201mm Turning circle 11.5m Weight 1691kg Towing capacity 2500kg braked (Effective braked towing capacity: 1000kg based on 10% towball download) Towball download 100kg Spare Space saver Fuel tank 60 litres Thirst 7.5L/100km (combined)
The new Volkswagen Tiguan is bigger than the last model with VW hoping to take the fight directly to segment top-sellers, like Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester. This second-generation model, despite being bigger and better equipped, is also cheaper. Indeed, the base model Tiguan Trendline 110TSI, is a solid $2000 cheaper than the equivalent first-generation model that launched here in 2008.
This new Tiguan represents something of a vanguard for Volkswagen’s SUV march. The German car maker claims, that by the end of this decade it will offer an SUV in every “relevant” segment. Indeed, with more than 2 million Tiguans sold around the world, VW considers the SUV to be one of its brand pillars, alongside Polo, Golf and Passat.
What is it?
The new Volkswagen Tiguan is shaking off its tiny-tot first-generation image with a more spacious cabin and a wide range of specifications, and an impressive list of active safety features. Indeed, the standard safety features include Front Assist, City Emergency Brake, Lane Assist, driver Fatigue Detection, Active Bonnet, Multi-Collision Brake, Park Assist and Rear View Camera (RVC).
The second-generation Tiguan also offers an extensive range of engine variants, three petrol and two diesel options. And it can be had with either a six-speed manual, six and seven-speed DSG. We’re testing the 132TSI and it’s this variant that Volkswagen Australia reckons will be the most popular here.
Like other Volkswagen models, buyers can choose from three model grades: Trendline; Comfortline and Highline. Pricing starts from $31,990+ORC and extends to more than $48,490+ORC.
There are several cost-optional packs, including the Luxury Package ($5000) which is available on Comfortline models and offers Vienna leather, electric adjustable driver’s seat with three-position memory, heated front seats, keyless entry and a powered tail-gate and a panoramic glass sunroof. There’s also a Driver Assistance package for both Comfortline and Highline models (from $2000) which includes adaptive cruise control, side assist with rear traffic alert, active info display and area view. There’s also an R-Line package for Highline models which costs $4000 and offers an R-Line bodykit and tweaked interior, 20-inch alloys, and adaptive chassis control. Adding the panoramic glass sunroof on its own to the Highline variants costs $2000, while metallic paint costs $700.
What about the design?
From model to model cars tend to grow only incrementally and sometimes they shrink but end up offering more room inside because of clever use of lightweight, high strength steels. So, it comes as a bit of a shock to look at the Tiguan’s dimensions and realise how substantially it’s grown compared to the old model.
That said, it’s a staggering 38mm shorter (1648mm) than the old model, but 30mm wider (1839mm) and 60mm longer (4486mm) with a wheelbase that’s 76mm longer (2681mm). Contributing to the dimension changes, is the styling which includes the bold-looking front grille that accentuates the look of width at the front of the Tiguan, while the rising beltline gives the impression of it being squatter than it is. It certainly looks more hunkered down than its predecessor which always looked as if it was standing up on tippy-toes.
Despite being bigger than its predecessor, the new Tiguan is also slipperier with the new design 13% more aerodynamic than the old model. And despite the vehicle being bigger it’s also lighter by up to 53kg with the new body 12kg lighter than the body of the old car.
The new Tiguan sits on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform and is the first outing in an SUV for this platform. Using the new platform alone has improved static torsional rigidity, although VW hasn’t said by how much.
In all, though, the new Tiguan carries a much more sophisticated look than its predecessor and seems to well and truly look like a baby brother to the Touareg. I’d go so far as to suggest it’s possibly the best looking compact SUV on the market, with the exception perhaps of the Hyundai Tucson…
What’s it like on the inside and how practical is it?
The dimension changes have resulted in a lot more room inside the cabin. According to the tap measure there’s an extra 26mm of interior space overall. This doesn’t sound like much, but overall there’s been some big gains with back seat passengers getting an extra 29mm of knee room while the rear seat can be slid 20mm further for a total of 180mm of movement forwards and backwards.
Indeed, it’s the back seat that I think is the standout of the new Tiguan, well, that and the boot. But, if you’re shopping for an SUV and you’ve got a family then it’s the back seat of the Tiguan that’s likely to be one of its most convincing assets.
The back seat is split in a 40:20:40 configuration which makes for a supremely flexible interior storage space. It means that you could easily transport two adults or children in the outboard rear seats and fold the middle back seat for storing longer bits and pieces. There are ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats only and top tether anchors conveniently located on the seat backs.
Big door openings and doors that close with a solid thunk but don’t weigh a tonne to open (I’m looking at you Renault Koleos) make it easy for either kids or adults to climb in and out. And slide the seats all the way back and you’ll get limo rivalling legroom… Indeed, I had enough room to climb into the back and get past my son’s legs and plonk down into the middle seat, and thanks to minimal intrusion from the transmission tunnel, it is a usable seat for an adult.
The boot, when the back seats are slid forward, and there’s still plenty of legroom in this position for adults, offers 615 litres which grows to 1655 litres with the seats folded down. The boot opening is nice and wide and the floor can be placed into two positions to make a flat floor for loading, with room underneath for storing bits and pieces you want kept hidden from prying eyes. 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.
Over in the front seats, the driver and passenger get more of a people mover-esque seating position rather than a faux-sports-style seating position. This means you get a good view all around the car despite the shortish glasshouse. Big mirrors and blind spot monitoring mean you can see easily down the sides of the vehicle.
The seats themselves are flat but there’s enough support that you won’t feel like you’re driving a commercial vehicle. Head and shoulder room in the front is excellent. And no matter your height, there’s enough adjustment in the seat and steering that you’ll be able to find a comfortable driving position.
One thing that sets the Tiguan apart from its competitors is its 12.3-inch Active Infor Display, which uses the same make-up as that fitted to Audis. There are six different views, including an ‘off-road’ display that reveals steering angle and compass and is, VW says, exclusive to the Tiguan. The same system also features in the Passat. In the centre console is an 8.0-inch touchscreen which offers access to numerous car menu items and is Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible. Check back later for a full review of the infotainment system in the new Tiguan.
The Tiguan offers tri-zone climate control, meaning the driver and front passenger can set the temperature that suits them as well as those in the back being able to make it cooler or warmer to suit. The system also includes a humidity sensor which helps to reduce the incidence of window fogging. It rained while we had the Tiguan on test and one thing that usually causes window fogging is heading from the outside and into an underground carpark, the system managed to keep the car from fogging up when we did exactly that.
Volkswagen is well known for its material quality and practical design and the Tiguan is no exception. It’s not a particularly exciting interior design, but it is functional with clever cup holders that adjust to suit different sized cups or bottles. And the materials used felt sturdy and the finger nail scratch test failed to reveal any marks. All up, the interior is well constructed and practical.
What’s the performance like?
Our test car ran a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 132kW between 3900-6000rpm and 320Nm of torque between 1500-3940rpm. It features stop/start is mated to a seven-speed DSG with 4Motion all-wheel drive and is happy to drink 95RON fuel. Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.9L/100km. The fuel tank holds 60 litres.
Now, at a new car launch it’s possible to drive a range of new vehicles with different engines and form one opinion and then, after driving one for a week, forming a completely different opinion. Now, I’m not saying I was wrong when I suggested the 110TDI might be the pick of engines in the Tiguan, but I have warmed to the 132TSI and that’s because I’ve now been able to drive it across roads I’m familiar with. I also got to put it through its paces on the highway, around town and out in the country, something I wasn’t able to do on my short 40km drive at the local launch last year.
In my drive, I found the 132TSI to be a solid performing engine that worked well with the seven-speed transmission in real-world driving situations. My only issue with the transmission came with standing starts being a little clumsy but that’s a DSG trait and not necessarily a specific criticism of the Tiguan.
With the family loaded up, the Tiguan flattened hills and overtook easily thanks to a solid and easily accessible band of torque from 1500rpm onwards.
What’s the ride and handling like?
One thing that stood out at the launch of the Tiguan and again after my week-long drive was that this is a very competent and comfortable car to drive. And that’s exactly what you want from a family-oriented SUV.
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 individual’.
We’ve detailed how the 4Motion Active Control selector works HERE.
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 the briefest moment of spin as the wheel became light and then forward progress was maintained.
The ride itself is nice and quiet which means you tend to notice a whisper of wind noise at highway speeds and a little bit of induction whine when hard accelerating. There’s minimal road noise intrusion even across poorer surfaces.
The Tiguan offers good body control with minimal roll in corners and next to no front to rear pitching under brakes or acceleration. You tend to hear the bump in the road rather than feel it, although the damping feels a little firmer than that of some competitors which have gone for a squashy ride, but I like it. Indeed, the firm-but-well-controlled damping sensation is the same as just about every other VW product you’re likely to drive.
The steering is nice and direct with a consistent weight through the wheel and good solid feel on centre at highway speeds. It’s not a particularly feelsome steering set-up, but this is a family-oriented SUV and not a sports car, so it’s probably enough that it goes where you point it and doesn’t come off feeling like a video game steering wheel – there’s an element of connectivity.
The brakes are solid with good progression in the pedal. I didn’t get a chance to do it this time, but at the launch I performed several hard stops on dirt with the Off-Road mode enabled which tweaks the ABS to allow a wedge of dirt to build up ahead of the wheels to aid in slowing the thing down. And it works very well, pulling up straight and true. I even tried, it looking back at my notes, across a rutted section of dirt road and reported the same controlled stop as on better-condition dirt.
What about safety features?
The Tiguan was awarded a five-star ANCAP rating and comes well equipped with a range of standard safety features that are still missing on some competitor products. ANCAP’s rating is based on EuroNCAP testing (and applies to front- and all-wheel drive vehicles) which will become the standard for ANCAP testing this year, as such, there’s no score out of 37 like ANCAP records for vehicle it tests, rather there are category scores that are totaled to achieve, or not, a five-star rating. It’s a bit frustrating, but that’s an argument we’ve already started HERE.
Back to the Tiguan’s rating, it was rated by EuroNCAP (recognised by ANCAP) as achieving 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 reads well… 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.
Why would you buy one?
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a big, roomy and well-featured family SUV. There isn’t much not to like. There are sportier SUVs in the segment, but none feel as complete as the Tiguan. In 132TSI trim, as we’ve tested, there’s plenty of power and the all-wheel drive system is pretty clever too.