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Volkswagen Tiguan R review

The Tiguan R is a performance SUV that’s devastatingly quick in a straight line and impressively practical, but don’t expect it to be particularly cheap to run

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Volkswagen Tiguan R: what would you like to read next?

Is the Volkswagen Tiguan R a good car?

Think of the Volkswagen Tiguan R performance SUV like you would your favourite fruity punch drink.

On the one hand, you’ve got your sensible pineapple or orange juice foundation in the form of its practical, spacious SUV body. Appetising, but not especially exciting on its own. On the other hand, however, you’ve got a shedload of rum – which is always good for spicing things up a bit.

Here, that extra kick comes in the form of a high-performance engine that’s been lifted straight out of the new Golf R hot hatch, sportier suspension, and some aggressive new styling tweaks. Sounds like it should make for a pretty delicious concoction, right? In any case, it’s a similar recipe to what we’ve seen in the likes of the Cupra Ateca and pricier Audi SQ5.

But let’s get back to those tweaks. You won’t miss the Tiguan R in a crowd, that’s for sure. Its pumped-up body kit and standard 21-inch alloy wheels really help it to stand out, and its quad exhaust pipes look particularly mean too.

The cabin has also been given a bit of a makeover. There’s cool blue ambient lighting and plenty of R badging. The chunky sports seats are decently supportive and comfortable, but while their blue and grey upholstery looks smart, it feels cheap. The same goes for some of the other interior plastics.

That said, this is still a Tiguan underneath it all. So there’s loads of passenger space, a big boot, and a clear view out of the front and back – which is always handy around town. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is the same as what you’ll find in the standard Tiguan, which is no bad thing.

Under the bonnet you’ll find a 2.0-litre 320hp turbocharged petrol engine, which allows it to accelerate from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds. It’s a fantastically smooth and muscular power plant, but it doesn’t sound as exciting as you might hope it would.

The Tiguan R certainly doesn’t hang about - put your foot down and it just goes. It’s not as fun as a Golf R, but it’s pretty comfortable.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

A seven-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard, and the Tiguan R gets four-wheel drive and torque vectoring too. The latter is a system that helps shift power to the wheels where it’s needed most to maximise grip in tight corners.

They work extremely well together, too; just don’t expect the Tiguan R to be quite as fun and engaging as the smaller Golf R. It’s a big, heavy SUV after all. Still, its steering is nicely weighted and confidence inspiring, which is handy when you’re on your favourite country road.

It’s also pretty comfortable when you’re just driving normally, too. With its adjustable suspension in its softest setting you don’t have to worry about bumps too much, and while those huge 21-inch alloys do make a bit of extra road noise on the motorway, this is far from draining.

And while this might be a Tiguan with a significant amount of extra punch, that doesn’t come at the expense of safety systems and driver aides. You’ll still find adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, parking sensors and a lane-keep assist included as standard.

That performance and tech does come at a price, however. The Tiguan R starts at £45,915, which makes it more expensive than a Cupra Ateca, but cheaper than the posher 7-seat Mercedes-AMG GLB 35. It’s a pretty thirsty beast too – we saw a fuel economy of 25mpg during our time with the car.

There’s also the small issue of the Golf R. If you want a practical family car that’s faster and even more fun than, then that’d be a very good option to consider.

But if the Volkswagen Tiguan R’s cocktail of performance and practicality takes your fancy, head on over to our deals page to see how much money you can save.

How practical is it?

The Tiguan R might be a performance car, but it’s an SUV too. So practicality is exceptionally good. The boot has a sizeable lip, though

Boot (seats up)
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Boot (seats down)
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You get fairly large, chunky sports seats with the Tiguan R. They’re manually-adjustable, which is a wee bit of a pain, but they’re comfortable and supportive, and heated as standard too. A good level of adjustability in the steering column also helps to make finding your ideal driving position that much easier.

Back seat passengers definitely won’t be complaining about a shortage of space, either. There’s acres of legroom and headroom, and the rear seats actually slide backwards and forwards too. That’s handy if you need a bit more boot space, or a bit more passenger space. You can get seat heaters back there as an optional extra, too.

There are a good number of storage compartments dotted throughout the Tiguan’s cabin. The door bins are a good size, as is the glovebox and the cubby beneath the front arm rest. Your phone, keys and wallet should all fit in the compact tray just ahead of the gear lever, too.

With 615 litres of storage capacity, you wouldn’t accuse the Tiguan R of coming up short on boot space. That’s considerably more than you’ll get in a Cupra Ateca and a Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 in five-seat mode.

There are a few niggles that you don’t get in standard versions of the Tiguan, however. You don’t get an adjustable false floor, which means there’s now a sizable lip over which you’d need to lift heavy items. It also means that when you fold the rear seats down, there’s a ledge between the boot floor and the seat backs. That’s a bit annoying.

What's it like to drive?

Tiguan R packs plenty of raw pace and is comfortable, but isn’t as fun as a Golf R

There’s only one engine and gearbox combo available with the Tiguan R, but that’s no bad thing. It shares its 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the Golf R, which here develops a meaty 320hp and 420Nm. Volkswagen says this is enough firepower to see this SUV launch from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, and hit a top speed of 155mph.

So the Volkswagen is certainly no slouch then. This is an impressively smooth engine too, with a lot of easily accessible grunt to help make overtaking slow-moving traffic a breeze – a process that’s helped out by its quick-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission.

Curiously, however, the Tiguan R doesn’t actually feel quite as quick as its performance numbers suggest it should. It’s absolutely rapid, but because you sit much higher up than you do in a Golf R, this sense of speed isn’t quite as in your face. It doesn’t sound particularly amazing either, but you can rectify that somewhat by speccing an optional Akrapovic titanium exhaust. Just know that this costs £3,155, which is a lot.

Bigger performance brakes provide improved stopping power, and four-wheel drive helps to ensure that the Tiguan R has plenty of grip even in slippery conditions. That extra performance does come at a cost, however, as you’ll get through petrol fairly quickly. Volkswagen claims it should be able to do 28mpg during mixed use – we saw 25mpg.

Thanks to a lofty driving position and good visibility out of the cabin, the Tiguan R is a surprisingly easy car to drive around town. The automatic gearbox works smoothly; and despite the fact it rides on those massive 21-inch alloys, its adaptive suspension makes it an impressively comfortable car over bumps too. All-round parking sensors, and a rear-view parking camera come in handy too.

Out on the motorway it’s similarly relaxed, although those big wheels do mean there’s a bit more road noise than you’d experience in a regular, run-of-the-mill Tiguan. It’s far from draining, though. There’s plenty of driver assistance systems, with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring helping to ease some of the strain of long-distance drives.

On a twisty road, the Tiguan R makes for pretty impressive company. Dial it up into Sport or Race mode (there’s a button on the steering wheel that provides quick access to the latter) and you’ll find it’s capable of generating huge grip through fast corners. It’s not quite as agile or entertaining as the smaller Golf R, however.

What's it like inside?

Sporting tweaks help to liven up the standard Tiguan’s slightly dull cabin, but it doesn’t feel quite as plush as some fast SUVs

Volkswagen Tiguan R colours

Special solid - Pure white
Free
Metallic - Dolphin grey
From £635
Metallic - Reflex silver
From £635
Pearl - Deep black
From £635
Special metallic - Lapiz blue
From £770
Signature premium - Oryx white pearl
From £1,060
Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Volkswagen Tiguan R at a price you’ll love
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