Driven: All-new Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

Say hello to the Tiguan, Volkswagen’s (VW) only SUV on sale in India and also, VWs flagship car for the Indian market till the Passat comes along. The vehicle was first showcased at the 2016 Delhi Auto Expo post which the company has finally introduced it here. We spent sometime driving it to see what the all-new Tiguan is all about.

First, the looks.

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The Tiguan is a smart looking vehicle. At 4.48 meters, the Tiguan is not massive, but it does have good street presence due to its aggressive styling. The LED headlamps up front with the LED DRLs make the SUV look menacing. The headlamps are standard across the range and do a good job of illuminating the road ahead. The top of the line is equipped with LED tail lamps as well.

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The vehicle gets plastic cladding all around, to give it the rugged SUV feel. On the alloys front, the base trim gets 17 inch ones while the top-end variant gets 18 inchers. The side profile has a strong character line and the mirrors now rise out of the door, rather than the A-pillar which gives the vehicle a sportier look.

There is a decent amount of chrome that can be seen around the vehicle, be it in the front bumper, doors or the rear bumper, and this is something the Indian customers would like. Overall, the styling is very understated, like in all VWs. It is more elegant than in your face’, something that buyers seeking a classy SUV will appreciate.

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Let’s move inside, shall we?

Step inside the Tiguan and you are greeted by an interior that is typically VW. The dashboard is un-cluttered, and houses an 8″ touch screen infotainment system with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink. The major thing missing though is navigation, especially given the price point at which the vehicle sits.

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The dash also houses the dual zone climate control for the front, with a third zone for the rear which is controlled from the back. The steering wheel is a 3-spoke unit with a flat bottom. It gets paddle shifters. audio controls, cruise control as well as phone controls for the Bluetooth. Sadly, the instrument cluster isn’t the virtual cockpit you see on the global model. India has to make do with the analogue dials with the MFD (multi-function display) at the center, similar to how it is on the Octavia.

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VW has opted for all-black interiors on the Tiguan, an interesting choice given most companies opt for beige. This does give the cabin a sporty look. The cabin has ambient lighting (only single colour, white) which is extended to the panoramic sunroof as well. It gets keyless go, front and rear parking sensors along with rear parking camera. It also gets an e-park brake and the Auto Hold function.

In terms of safety, the Tiguan is equipped with front and curtain airbags as standard. The vehicle also gets an active bonnet, which will protect pedestrians in the event of a crash.  The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable with 3 memory functions where as the front passenger seat is manually adjustable. The rear seats are also manually adjustable, both for incline as well as reach. The seat-backs of the front seats have fold-out tables.

Roomy?

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The vehicle is quite roomy. The front seats are nice and supportive and offer lumbar support too, something that is useful during long journeys. The back seat is quite comfortable offering good amounts of head and leg room as long as there are only two people on it. While there is enough room at the back, fitting 3 large people will be little tough due to the thick transmission tunnel.

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The thing that really makes the difference though is the massive glass area that the Tiguan has. It has huge side windows and a panoramic sunroof. Not only does it make the cabin a nicer place to be in, it also adds to the feeling of space in the cabin. The boot can be electronically opened and has the sensor below the bumper which requires you to wave your leg under it to open the boot.

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Boot space is a decent 615 liter which can be extended to 1655 liters with the rear seats down. The car has a low loading lip, that will be helpful to put heavy things into the vehicle. The car comes equipped with a space saver, something which may not be needed on the top of the line variant. Why? The company says that the tyres are self healing, which means there is a gel that is present that seals the puncture in case it happens on the move. For the time being, if you need to get your tyres changed, you will have to go to VW itself, at least until these self healing tyres are offered in the aftermarket.

Let’s go for a spin now!

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The Tiguan can only be had in one engine gearbox combination in the Indian market. The engine in question is the 2.0 liter TDI unit which we have been used to seeing on all the other models from the group. The engine produces 141 Bhp and 340 Nm. This engine is mated to a 7-speed DSG, unlike the other diesel vehicles which are mated to a 6-speed DSG.

And no, this is not the same DQ200 box that is on offer on the petrol variants, this is an all-new DQ500 gearbox. There is no manual transmission on offer currently. The power is put down through all four wheels courtesy the 4Motion all-wheel drive unit, which uses the latest generation of Haldex AWD system to transmit power between the front and rear wheels, based on requirement.

The ARAI claimed mileage figure for the Tiguan is 17.06 kmpl. Now that we are done with the facts and figures, let us get to how it feels on the open road.

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The first thing that you do notice when you start the car up is the fact that the vehicle is very refined for a diesel. Yes, there is the mild clatter on cold start, but that remains only for a short while. Put the car into drive and the vehicle has adequate grunt. Mid range is strong but the top end is lacking, as on most diesel vehicles.

The vehicle is adequately fast, but the 1720 kgs kerb weight does make it feel a little strained, as compared to the Jetta and Octavia. For most people, the power on offer will be good enough, but we would have loved the more powerful 180 Bhp state of tune to be offered.

The DSG does a great job of keeping the car in the powerband under normal driving, however if you do need to do a sudden overtake, the gearbox could take some additional time to shift you down. You do have paddle shifters on offer in that case, if you wish to pull that quick overtake.

The car comes with driving modes, which can be selected from the knob behind the gear lever. You can choose between sport, eco and normal. The drive modes alter responses from the steering, the gearbox as well as the climate control (mainly for the eco mode). In sport, the steering does become a tad bit heavier and the shifts are held longer. Down shifts also happen faster.

Ride and handling

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We put the Tiguan through city roads, highways, off-road as well as on some twisties. One thing that became clear is the fact that the Tiguan feels very planted and stable, especially while cruising out on the highway. There is a tad bit of body roll while cornering, but the steering is very precise and gives a lot of feedback.

VW has set the suspension keeping comfort in mind, which means the vehicle glides over most of the rough stuff without much hassle. It is only over the larger pot holes that you will hear the one-off thud from the suspension. While it is on the softer side, the SUV doesn’t have a boat-like feel to it, which means it is fun to drive too.

We took the car on a mild off-road track and found the vehicle coping well. We didn’t get to check out the full capability of the system though. The Tiguan has a ground clearance of 149 mm. Yes, you read it right, 149 mm. Now you maybe scratching your head as to how it is so low. The reason behind that is that ARAI is now using a fully loaded vehicle to test ground clearance, which means the 149 mm is the minimum ground clearance the vehicle has. This is something that has come into effect recently and hence takes people by surprise when they hear it. However, real world ground clearance is more like 200 mm. Brakes are very sharp, which is something very reassuring, especially for a SUV.

Should you get one?

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The Tiguan can be had in two variants – Comfortline priced at Rs 27.98 lakh and 31.38 lakh for the Highline, ex-showroom Delhi. So what makes the Tiguan special? If you are in the market for a 5-seat soft roader, the Tiguan makes a lot of sense. Yes, it is a little over-priced when compared to the Tucson, which would technically be its main rival, however VW is aiming the Tiguan at the BMW X1 and the Mercedes GLA.

The advantage the Tiguan has is that it is understated, feels premium and is practical too. People who want the luxury and creature comforts of a high end vehicle, yet don’t want the snob value of the other German marques, the Tiguan makes a lot of sense for them. It also comes equipped with AWD on both variants, something that is not on offer in any other model in the similar price bracket.

The company claims that there maybe a price cut post the implementation of GST, which means the prices will go down. To sum up, if you want a premium 5-seat SUV which is spacious and well loaded, and yet you don’t want to spend the extra for the other brands, this makes perfect sense. We advise you to wait for GST to kick in though.

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