Back in 2008 when the original Volkswagen Tiguan was launched in the UK, few predicted the SUV explosion that was to follow.
Now, no sensible car manufacturer can afford NOT to have a Sports Utility Vehicle or crossover in its range.
Such has been the success of this segment that 2015 was the most successful year for the outgoing Tiguan. Nearly 22,000 were sold, meaning more than 100,000 have found homes in the UK since launch (2.8 million worldwide).
The second generation Tiguan is not only VW’s most important new car of 2016, it will have to build on the current model which is the third most popular in the range – after the Golf and Polo.
Volkswagen has done the sensible thing and decided to create an all-new car which is not unlike an evolution of the original.
Longer, lower and wider, it’s now sharper looking than the slightly dumpy Mk1, while the front is dominated by VW’s new signature wraparound grille and headlights.
Things get even better inside where the look and feel bring it bang up to date, it’s more connected than ever and there’s even more space. In fact, it’s almost limo-like in the back, so adults can sit comfortably front and rear.
Add to that the 615 litres of luggage space (1,655 litres with the rear seats folded) and you have a serious load carrier.
There’s more of a premium feel inside too with slick design, premium materials and excellent build quality.
And if you’re going to upgrade, go for the superb leather seats and Active Info Display – VW’s version of the ground-breaking digital dashboard first seen in the Audi TT. Instead of traditional dials and warning lights, AID offers a fluid digital display which can be configured in various ways including the sat nav centre screen so it’s directly in front of the driver. Combine AID with the head-up display and that’s some serious treats for tech-loving drivers.
There are a variety of petrol and diesel engines available, starting with the 1.4-litre TSI petrol, but it’s the 2.0-litre diesel (148bhp/150Ps) that VW expects to be the biggest seller in mid-range SE Navigation trim. In fact, diesel engines are expected to account for some 90% of Tiguan sales.
The new Tiguan has to be good because it’s competing in the most competitive SUV sector, up against the likes of the Ford Kuga, Honda HR- V, Toyota RAV4 and best-selling Nissan Qashqai.
Thankfully for VW, it’s more than up to the task. Starting at £22,510 for the entry-level 1.4 TSI in S trim, the range is topped out by the 2.0- litre 4Motion diesel in R-Line spec. 4 Motion is VW’s four-wheel drive system and gives the car off-road capability. It’s not hardcore, but it should be enough to get you out of trouble in extremes of weather here in the UK. It’s especially important to Tiguan buyers because 75% of buyers opted for AWD in the outgoing version.
A high driving position coupled with plenty of space and light means the Tiguan cabin is a very pleasant place to be.
I tested a few versions, but for me, the pick of the bunch in terms of the package and value for money was the Tiguan SEL TDI 4Motion with seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Priced at £32,010, it was closer to £36,000 with options.
Like many diesels, engine noise is noticeable under harsh acceleration, but soon settles down and, overall, the Tiguan is very refined.
With a top speed of 124mph, it can reach 62mph in a decent 9.3 seconds and it’s capable of 50mpg with CO2 emissions of 149g/km.
The six-speed manual on offer is good, but the slick seven-speed auto suits the car better. For me, the Tiguan is best enjoyed as a cruiser. Hurry it along and its SUV character becomes apparent. Body roll is well controlled, but it’s no hatchback in the handling stakes.
Above all, it’s an easy car to drive with light steering and good visibility. It’s also packed with safety gizmos, earning it a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Finally, if caravans are your thing, the Tiguan is now capable of towing up to 2,500kg. A Trailer Assist package is also available – it allows you to use the door mirror adjustment joystick to control reverse steering.
Verdict: The all-new Tiguan is an excellent, if sensible, package. Stylish, spacious, safe, comfortable and more connected than ever, the mid-size SUV sector just got a whole lot more competitive.