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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The Volkswagen Tiguan is a very typical SUV. It’s got a high driving position, a big boot, chunky-looking styling and a premium badge on its nose – all of which are hallmarks of these incredibly popular family cars.
Alternatives include the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq, with which the Tiguan shares its engines and many of its underpinnings. But despite the similarities beneath the skin, there are some significant differences too. Imagine they’re a trio of school kids: the SEAT is sporty and athletic; the Skoda is smart and pragmatic; and the VW Tiguan is well-dressed and loves its tech.
The Tiguan’s appeal is wide-ranging as a result of its classier image. In high-spec form it could be seen as an alternative to the Volvo XC40, Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3 and BMW X1 small SUVs. In lesser trims, it can be an alternative to a higher-spec Nissan Qashqai or Renault Kadjar.
On the inside, the Tiguan also has a bit of a split personality. High-spec models are smart-looking and have plush seats, yet the cheaper models have more obvious hard and scratchy plastics that seem out of place in an upmarket model like this. It’s really worth paying attention to the spec to get the best out of this VW SUV.
The infotainment screen is packed with features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there are options including digital dials and a large main screen. It’s a bit fiddly to use, though, as there aren’t enough actual buttons – it’s all touch-sensitive panels that aren’t very good 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.
The VW Tiguan is really practical. There’s plenty of room in the back seats and the boot is easily big enough for everything you need, from a weekly shop to a kitted-out camping trip with the whole family. If you need seven seats, there’s a different model called the VW Tiguan Allspace – it’s very similar but comes with extra seats in the back.
The Tiguan isn’t exactly exciting to drive, but it’s comfy, quiet and feels secure and stable on faster roads. It’s relaxing to know that you’re covered by its advanced safety systems too, including standard automatic emergency city braking. That said, it’s much more focused on comfort than enjoyment on a twisty road – if you’re after the latter, you’d be better served by a SEAT Ateca.
There’s a good range of engines, from a 1.5-litre petrol engine with either 130hp or 150hp right up to the Tiguan R performance SUV with its 320hp 2.0-litre motor. There are diesel versions using a 2.0-litre engine, plus automatic gearbox and 4×4 powertrain options.
The four-wheel drive models are useful if you live somewhere that has a lot of dirt tracks and it snows regularly in winter, but for most people it’s best to avoid these because they aren’t as fuel efficient as their two-wheel-drive counterparts.
If you like the sound of this practical and stylish family SUV, take a look at the latest Volkswagen Tiguan deals. You can also watch our video review of the high-performance Tiguan R by tapping on the video below.
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.
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 a Volvo 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. When you don’t need them any longer, you can fold them out of the way to leave a decent cubby for your phone and keys.
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 litres 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.
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 version isn’t quite as fast as the 1.5-litre petrol, but it returns around 55mpg. You can also get a more powerful 200hp model that’ll be ideal if you plan to tow heavy trailers.
You can get the 150hp diesel with two- or four-wheel drive, and with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The higher-powered diesel is automatic, and four-wheel drive only.
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 is also available. 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 touch of a button. With this fitted and in comfort mode, it does a better job of smoothing over bumps.
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 overly 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.
Lane-keep assist is standard, and from the Life trim and above you get adaptive cruise control that keeps you a set distance from the car in front. Then, on Elegance models, the adaptive cruise uses traffic signs and map data to adjust its speed. Meanwhile, R-Line cars have VW’s all-singing-all-dancing Travel Assist, which can bring the car to a halt and then move off again all by itself.
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
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