Volkswagen Tiguan (2016) First Drive

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The highly-anticipated new Volkswagen Tiguan has landed on South African shores and we attended the compact SUV/crossover's local launch. 

We've waited quite a while for this baby SUV to make its way to South Africa. The first-generation Tiguan proven a roaring success across the globe (with more than 2.8-million units sold) and it's not hard to see why it prospered. It was reasonably practical, fuel efficient, offered a pliant ride quality and featured a variety of premium touches and finishes.

What's new?

The Volkswagen Tiguan is lighter, longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model. The extra 60 mm in length and 30 mm in width result in extra cabin space, while the Tiguan is 53 kg lighter thanks to the adoption of lightweight materials.

From launch there will be just be a single 1.4-litrre 4-cylinder turbopetrol engine availabe in 2 states of tune. You can choose between 92 kW/200 Nm and 110 kW/250 Nm, the latter in combination with a DSG automatic transmission. Fans of diesel engines will be pleased to hear that a 2.0-litre TDI motor with 81 kW, 105 kW and 130 kW will be arriving in early 2017. A flagship Volkswagen Tiguan version with a GTI-sourced 162 kW 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is also scheduled to arrive later in the year. Both manual and DSG transmissions will be available, as is Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

Volkswagen SA kitted out its media launch vehicles with zeal. That's because in standard trim, the standard Tiguan is not particularly visually striking, but the units we evaluated during the event had all been fitted with the optional R Line kit, which, at R18 000, gives the vehicle a much more purposeful look. Courtesy of the R Line's 19-inch alloy wheels and daytime running lights, the Tiguan we drove caused heads to turn and even the occasional cellphone was hurriedly whipped out for a photo. In white and equipped with the R-Line kit, the new Volkswagen Tiguan is a seriously good-looking vehicle.

R-Line package includes a bumper and sill extension with black wheel housing flaring, sports suspension, body-coloured rear spoiler, titanium black headlining and the 19-inch Sebring alloy wheels. 

Check out prices and specifications for the new Volkswagen Tiguan here.

 

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The drive

The launch route took us around the north-west of Pretoria and the fleet of Tiguans traversed a variety of road surfaces... We even had a brief excursion on sand and gravel. Despite the R-Line-equipped Tiguan being fitted with 19-inch alloys with fairly low-profile rubber, the newcomer's ride quality was good, if a tad firm. However, we can only imagine how effective the Tiguan's damping will be when it rides on smaller (17- and 18-inch) wheels. Refinement is one of the VW's strongest suits. 

Our launch vehicle was a 110 kW DSG derivative fitted with a few extra options. The digital instrument (Active Info Display) cluster was fitted and after our pleasant first encounter with the system in the Volkswagen Passat, we were pleased to see that (if specified) it befits the new Tiguan's premium interior ambience. It's reasonably intuitive to use and the screen itself has a high-quality display. The vehicle features Apple Carplay and Android Auto, but we're all waiting on Google to authorise the use of the Android system. It works, but the South African Android devices don't have that functionality yet. 

Despite the small engine that produces a modest 110 kW, the Tiguan doesn't really feel short on power and the DSG transmission does a good job of keeping the engine in a responsive mood. The vehicle comes with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, but we felt it best to leave the powertrain in full auto. We noticed that the engine is impressively insulated and unless you're listening very closely, it's hard to determine if the motor is running. It's only when the motor spins into the upper reaches of its rev range that an engine note of any significance can be discerned.

Rigged for silent running

On good quality roads, cabin refinement (in terms of NVH suppression) is impressive even at the national speed limit. The steering has a reassuring feel to it and the handling even exhibits a touch of sure-footed sportiness. We also had a brief chance to sample the 6-speed manual gearbox and while it does have a light and uncomplicated shift action, turbo lag made its presence felt on the 92 kW; I found myself working the gearbox hard when executing overtaking manoeuvres.

Improved practicality

Apart from the fact that the interior is well-made and trimmed in a plethora of soft-touch premium materials, the Tiguan is also more family friendly than its predecessor. The level of rear legroom afforded, for example, is good and the fold-down rear trays and cupholders (if specified) are a nice to have feature. 

Meanwhile, the luggage compartment has a capacity of more than 500 litres, the split rear seatback can fold forward at the pull of a couple of levers in the boot and the tow hitch, if specified, deploys remotely at the push of a button.

 

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Summary

The new Volkswagen Tiguan exceeds expectations. We knew it was going to be a good product, but this good? No.

It's built exceptionally well, boasts cabin build quality and refinement that is arguably class-leading and offers a ride that's capable of soaking up the worst of South Africa's roads (at least if feels that way). Standard specification is fair for what you're paying for, but you can liberally kit your Tiguan out with further options, of course.

Pricing for the range may look a little high, but this new Tiguan has enough going for it to command a premium. It has moved the segment goalposts significantly and the advantages that Volkswagen's rivals seemed to have made (as the first generation took its time to be replaced) suddenly seem arbitrary.

Expect this product to grab many sales and awards — globally and locally.

New Volkswagen Tiguan Price in South Africa

1.4 TSI 92kW Trendline Manual R378 000
1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline Manual R419 000
1.4 TSI 110kW Comfortline DSG R457 680

The new Volkswagen Tiguan comes standard with a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, 3-year/120 000 km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service intervals are set at 15 000 km.

Related articles:

Check out prices and specifications for the new Volkswagen Tiguan here.
Want to buy an outgoing Volkswagen Tiguan? Now's your chance to grab some run-out specials. 
Read an international first drive of the new Volkswagen Tiguan here.
Is there a bigger Tiguan XL coming? Check out spy photos

Interested in buying a VW Tiguan?

Find one for sale on Cars.co.za

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