by Iñigo Roces
A top choice vehicle for European Police, Emergency Services and regular families alike, the Volkswagen Tiguan is hard not to miss in the west. It has long since replaced our favorite compact SUV, the CR-V and RAV4, as the new favorite in European garages. Earlier this year, Volkswagen has finally brought in the all-new model, and while most Filipinos have yet to warm up to the vehicle, this new iteration hopes to provide more reasons to shift.
The 2017 Tiguan is a clean sheet, all-new model. It has sharp angles where its predecessor had voluptuous curves, square headlights and Lexus-esque LED taillights. It comes in a shorter, wider, more angular body, but also far more commanding in presence.
With the key fob in your pocket, simply grasp the handle to unlock it and step in. Ahead of the driver sits the three spoke steering wheel with stereo and multi-info display readout controls. Headlights are manipulated on a dial to the left while stalks control the signal lamps, flashers and wipers.
The instrument cluster is dominated by two dials: speedo on the left and tach on the right, with fuel and temp gauges at the bottom of each. In the center is the multifunction display, reading out trip details like consumption, range, speed, tire pressure and driving time.
The stereo may seem simply, but it’s incredibly high tech. Simply reach toward the touch screen stereo, and, without even touching it, it will show you context menus on the bottom row. It can connect to iPods, phone and MP3 players via cable or through Bluetooth. Its climate control also features three-zone temperature control.
The rest of the cabin is austere yet subtly elegant. The second row has generous legroom, air con blowers in between the seats, seatback trays, and a 40/20/40 fold rear bench. Behind, the cargo area frees up space by keeping the tools and tire under the cargo floor. Lift the cargo floor and a lock keeps it up for you with little hooks on the side.
Hiding under the bonnet is a 1.4-liter TSI. Despite its size, this four-banger turbo makes 150 PS and is paired to a six-speed DSG automatic. It brings power to the front wheels and can dash to a top speed of 200 km/h over the former’s 195 km/h. It’s all brought to life with the engine start button, located on the center console, just ahead of the automatic stickshift.
This new engine comes with a new feature: Active Cylinder Technology and lets the engine automatically shut off two of the four cylinders for improved fuel economy when cruising at highways speeds or coasting to a stop. Adding to this is the stop-start system already made available in the previous top-of-the-line Tiguan. These features combine to return consumption of 10 km/L in the city and 12.5 km/L in the highway.
Naturally, the smaller engine may not peel off from a stand still, but get it up to speed and it feels more at ease, easily keeping a cruise with little input.
Driving it around is quite enjoyable with luxurious material lining the wheel. The weighting of the steering is light but still firm, and stiffens up at higher speeds. It’s also lighter on its feet than its predecessor, handling quick changes of direction gleefully. And while it stands relatively high off the ground, it still feels like driving a regular sedan.
When it comes time to play, the Tiguan will be happy to oblige. Its 6-speed DSG comes with D and S modes. D is for regular driving while S is for more sporty behavior, with the transmission holding gears longer and downshifting sooner. In either mode, simply flick the stickshift to the right to shift manually.
No need to worry with systems like Electronic Stability Program, Anti-slip Regulation, Electronic Differential Lock, and Engine Drag Torque Control that all work in combination to direct power and traction to the wheels that need it most.
In heavy traffic, the drive is made much easier with features like the electronic handbrake includes an auto hold function. When activated, it automatically applies the handbrake when the vehicle comes to a full stop. No need to shift from D to neutral. Simply press the throttle and the handbrake will release once again.
Automatic headlights and wipers also monitor the environment and switch on and off the lights and wipers when needed, without you having to reach for the stalks. At night, cornering lamps illuminate the path you’re turning into, lighting the way around tight blind corners.
Summed up, the Tiguan is an understated yet very capable package, that is well thought out and can deliver quite admirably be it an out of town drive or for the daily grind. The interior quality is exceptional and, while not flashy, certainly feels luxurious. The only downside is the luxurious pricing, at P2,259,000. Nonetheless, it offers much of the sophistication, tech and luxury of its sister brands, Porsche and Audi, at a fraction of the cost.