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Volkswagen Tiguan review

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a spacious, comfortable and good-to-drive SUV. Cheaper versions are dull to look at, though, and the Tiguan is pricier than many of its alternatives. 

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after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Generous rear seat space
  • Large and practical boot
  • Comfy and quiet to drive

What's not so good

  • One of the pricier family SUVs
  • Basic versions look dull inside and out
  • Fiddly touch-sensitive controls

Volkswagen Tiguan: what would you like to read next?

Is the Volkswagen Tiguan a good car?

SUVs are in, traditional cars are out. The thinking these days is that a conventional saloon, hatchback or estate is too low, and the high-up style and practicality of an SUV is just better. If that’s you, which it probably is, the Volkswagen Tiguan should be on your shortlist.

Like sisters from another mister, the VW Tiguan, SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq are all similar underneath but with significant differences. The SEAT is the one that’s great at sport and wears joggers everywhere, while the Skoda is the jacket and briefcase sort. That leaves the Tiguan as the ‘cool’ kid with designer clobber that all the girls fancy.

It is pretty cool, particularly in range-topping R-Line Tech trim, which gives the likes of the Volvo XC40, Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1 small SUVs a run for their money in the style stakes. In lesser trims, not so much – it looks as if it’s been borrowing the Skoda’s clothes.

It’s a similar story on the inside, where things get jazzier the further up the range you go. Still, everything in the VW Tiguan’s interior is laid out logically and the materials feel solid (without being hard and brittle) On the downside, it’s a little unadventurous, with lots of greys and blacks.

That said, the infotainment can be a little too adventurous at times. It’s VW’s latest touchscreen system, and comes in two different screen sizes, but both come with touch-sensitive buttons beside the screen and on the multifunction steering wheel. It’s an easy system to get your head around, but what’s wrong with old fashioned buttons? They’re just easier to use while driving.

Our pick of the range is the 1.5 petrol in R-Line trim. It's a great engine for all types of driving, and R-Line goodies makes the Tiguan look its best.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

You’ll find the VW Tiguan has more than enough space for a week’s groceries in its generous boot and there are numerous useful storage areas throughout the interior. The roomy back seats can be reclined for more comfort or slid forwards to increase the boot’s capacity. That said, a Skoda Kodiaq is bigger still, but unless you’re running a removals firm on the side, the Tiguan is going to be practical enough for most family car duties.

The VW Tiguan is a good car to drive, too. Admittedly, it’s not very exciting, but what really matters is that it’s comfy, quiet and feels secure and stable on faster roads. The Volkswagen Tiguan is also sufficiently agile to zip along a twisty country road with little fuss. And, you can relax knowing you and your family are protected by VW’s latest safety systems, including standard automatic emergency city braking.

If you don’t do many long journeys, then go for the excellent 1.5-litre 150hp petrol engine – it gives a good blend of price, performance and economy. For higher miles (or for towing trailers) you’ll want one of the punchy 2.0-litre diesel units. You can also get it with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, but you’ll be better off with a Land Rover Discovery Sport if you plan to do any serious off-roading.

But, if you don’t need that extra capability, the Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the very best all-round family SUVs you can buy. It pretty much does it all.

If you like the sound of that, take a look at the latest Volkswagen Tiguan deals.

How practical is it?

There’s enough room in the back of a Volkswagen Tiguan for even tall passengers to get comfy – but three adults side by side will feel a bit squashed.

Boot (seats up)
Boot (seats down)

The Volkswagen Tiguan’s roomy cabin has plenty of space for tall passengers. The front seats come with lots of adjustment as standard and you can tweak the steering wheel for height and reach to find your ideal driving position – even if you’re very tall.

Space in the back is very nearly as generous as in the front. There’s enough leg room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver and there’s space to tuck your feet under the front seats.

The seats themselves are soft and supportive and even very tall adults won’t be left wanting for headroom. You can even slide the rear seats forward and backwards slightly and recline the backrests to give your back-seat passengers a little more space to stretch out – at the expense of a little boot space.

The central rear seat isn’t quite as soft as the outer two and there’s a sizeable lump in the floor but there’s still enough space for three adults to sit side-by-side without fighting over foot space. There’s more room than in an XC40’s rear cabin, but not quite as much shoulder or elbow room as you get in the wider Honda CR-V.

All but entry-level cars come with three-zone climate control so your passengers in the back can tweak the temperature themselves – or you can warm things up to send kids off to sleep on a long drive.

It’s a doddle to fit a bulky child seat, too. The Tiguan’s rear doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked. Its raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down to strap in a child – even if you’re very tall.

The Volkswagen Tiguan comes with absolutely loads of handy storage bins and cubby holes to help keep its cabin looking neat and tidy. All four door bins and the glovebox are easily big enough to hold a one-litre bottle each and there’s space under the front armrest to keep a few valuables hidden safely out of sight.

You get a 12V socket for charging your phone as standard but you can get a wireless charging pad as an option if you’d rather not have any messy cables lying around.

There’s even a storage tray under the front passenger seat that’s big enough for an iPad (although this disappears if you pay extra for electrically adjustable seats) and you can tuck a few pairs of sunglasses in the extra cubbies under the dashboard.

The cupholders between the front seats are particularly cool – you press a button and they flip out and are adjustable to any size up. When you don’t need them any longer, you can fold them out the way to leave a decent cubby for throwing your phone and keys into.

The Volkswagen Tiguan’s 520-litre boot is one of the biggest of all small family SUVs. It’s more spacious than the 430-litre Nissan Qashqai, the 491-litre Kia Sportage and the 503-litre Mazda CX-5 and there’s more than enough room for a large baby buggy or four suitcases. You can also slide the rear seats forward to increase the space to 615 litre if needed.

You get an adjustable boot floor to eliminate the awkward load lip and help make it easy to slide in very heavy luggage. There’s even a 12V socket so you can plug in a portable hoover and some handy tie-down hooks to hold smaller items securely.

If you need to carry even more, you can flip the back seats down in a three-way (40:20:40) split using some easy-to-reach levers in the boot rather than awkward catches beside the headrests. Flip just the middle section down and you can carry up to two rear-seat passengers and some very long luggage at once, or fold all three seats out of the way and you’ll open up a 1,655-litre load bay.

With all three seats folded, there’s enough space to carry a bike with its wheels attached. There’s no annoying step in the floor behind the back seats either, so it’s easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.

What's it like to drive?

The Volkswagen Tiguan is easy to drive and has a range of strong and fairly economical engines – but top-spec R-Line models aren’t as comfortable over bumps as the rest of the Tiguan range

You can get the Volkswagen Tiguan with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a manual or automatic gearbox. You can also get diesel versions with four-wheel drive instead of the standard front-wheel-drive setup.

The best all-rounder is the 1.5-litre petrol model with 150hp. It’s smoother and more frugal than the diesel models around town and fast enough to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic – unlike the cheaper 130hp model, which you have to work harder on multi-lane roads.

VW claims the 150hp petrol Tiguan will return 42.8mpg, so you can expect to see mid-30s mpg in real-world conditions, which is on par with similar-spec cars from other manufacturers.

Sadly, you can’t get this engine with four-wheel drive but the Volkswagen Tiguan still has more than enough grip to deal with a slippery country lane. A four-wheel-drive diesel model will be a better bet if you regularly find yourself towing trailers across muddy fields, but for serious off-road work a Land Rover Discovery Sport will be much more suitable.

If you do lots of motorway miles you’ll want to consider one of the 2.0-litre diesel models. The 150hp 2.0-litre version isn’t quite as fast as the 1.5-litre petrol but it returns around 55mpg in real-world conditions. You can also get a more powerful 200hp version of the same engine that’ll be ideal if you plan to tow heavy trailers.

You can get the 150hp diesel version with two- or four-wheel drive and with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, while the higher-powered diesel is auto and four-wheel drive only.

Unfortunately, the manual doesn’t feel particularly smooth and the optional automatic requires a very gentle touch on the accelerator to avoid lurching at slow speeds. It’s still well worth paying extra for, however – It changes gear very smoothly once you’re up to speed and really helps give your left leg a rest on long journeys.

If you do all your driving in town or you plan to run a Tiguan as your company car, a plug-in hybrid model will join the range. It has a 1.4 turbocharged petrol engine plus a battery and electric motor, which give it the ability to drive around 30 miles on electricity alone. That means low CO2 emissions and great company car tax rates, but you’ll need good access to charging.

The Tiguan’s quite a bit larger than a conventional family car but it’s still very easy to drive. Its reasonably high driving position might not lift you above traffic quite as much as a Honda CR-V or Peugeot 3008 but you still get an excellent view out through its large windows. Even the pillars between the doors and the windscreens don’t produce any awkward blind spots.

The large rear windscreen helps make it relatively easy to park and all models in Life trim and above come with front and rear parking sensors as standard. You can even get a 360-degree camera that’ll display a bird’s-eye view of the car’s surroundings on the central display and a system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel spaces.

The Volkswagen Tiguan does a fairly good job ironing out potholes around town – providing you avoid the sportier R-Line models with their larger 20-inch alloy wheels and lower suspension. If you can’t live without the R-Line’s upmarket looks and big wheels you can get special adaptive dampers that let you switch between sporty and more comfortable suspension setups at the flick of a switch. With this fitted and in comfort mode, it does a better job.

Even without this option, the Volkswagen Tiguan makes light work of twisty country roads. It might not feel quite as sporty as a BMW X1, but its body doesn’t lean much in tight corners so kids in the back seats won’t start to feel car sick. Thankfully, you won’t hear much annoying wind and tyre noise in the VW, even at motorway speeds, so long journeys won’t leave you feeling particularly tired.

The VW Tiguan was awarded an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2016 making it one of the safest family SUVs on sale. The automatic emergency braking feature you get as standard across the range helped it earn this impressive result. This system helps stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects a vehicle or pedestrian in the road ahead.

A system that steers to keep you in your lane is standard, and from Life trim you get adaptive cruise control that keeps you a set distance from the car in front included too. Then, on Elegance models, the adaptive cruise uses traffic signs and map data to adjust itself too, while R-Line cars have VW’s all-singing-all-dancing Travel Assist, which does all that, but from standstill right up to higher speeds than you’ll ever go on the road.

What's it like inside?

The Tiguan’s interior is intuitively laid-out and has impressive optional tech. Most of its materials feel fairly plush too, but it doesn’t look particularly exciting…

Volkswagen Tiguan colours

Special solid - Pure white
Solid - Urano grey
Special solid - Moonstone grey
From £380
Metallic - Nightshade blue
From £635
Pearl - Deep black
From £635
Metallic - Ginger brown
From £635
Metallic - Dolphin grey
From £635
Metallic - Reflex silver
From £635
Special metallic - Kings red
From £770
Signature premium - Oryx white pearl
From £1,060
Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Volkswagen Tiguan at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
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