Compared to crossovers and/or SUVs of its generation, the Tiguan has stayed stout and tall, with dimensions that allow it to be spacious inside without looking fat on the outside.
Simple straight slots on the grille and front bumper run perpendicular to the very few lines on the body, which gives its overall design a very minimalist look. In fact, its understated design has somewhat of a throwback to SUVs from the mid-2000s effect. Windows are huge by today’s standards. Even with the rear of the roof tapering off very slightly and the shoulder line rising front to back, it’s still bigger and wider compared to current crossovers. The rear is kept plain, sans any lines on the hatch, save for the badge and trim. It is neat exterior expression and while unexciting, it follows the look of the current crop of Volkswagens in the market.
Inside is one of the places where you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. Leather-bound seats come with very nice white stitching and are very taut and feel premium. There’s some leather on the panels as well but where there is none, it gets high-quality, rubbery material that’s soft and velvety to the touch. And that extends to the entire top and expanse of the dashboard.
The brushed aluminum effect on the vent and infotainment panels, and gear shifter blend very well with the whole black motif of the cabin. It actually looks quite elegant for a Php 1.648 million crossover.
Labels are very clear on every item, which makes everything easy to operate – from pairing devices, changing audio source to basic audio settings. Controls on the steering wheel are very basic as well: audio on the left and the ones for the instrument panel on the right.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth, and ports for AUX-in, USB and SD cards, which are mounted on near the infotainment display.
I love the feel of the cabin. It is spacious, top to bottom and side to side, and it everything is very tastefully done so it looks very chic.
The one thing though is the placement and angle of the air vents, and the power window controls. Vents are too high up and also positioned slightly facing upwards, which makes all the air only cool you from the neck up no matter how much they are adjusted to blow to my torso. Power window controls also are almost at window level, which means you’ll lift your arms up every time to operate it.
As a crossover, it does a great job of downsizing with a 1.4L Turbo Stratified Injection (TSI) engine that uses new aluminum construction. It is light yet does not sacrifice performance. Despite weighing more than one and a half tons, it’s agile thanks to 250 Nm of torque. 148 Hp is fine for the city and even the occasional highway driving, but if you love staying on the pass lane, which means you’re going fast, a few more horses would be better.
There’s a significant turbo lag after throttle input and before the 6-speed direct-shift gearbox sends power to the front wheels when substantial pressure is put on the throttle whether on Drive or just when you shift from D to Sport. But to its credit, it does pick up tremendously after that. This small displacement engine, save for that tiny delay, performs much bigger than its size and makes it feel like you’re driving in a proper SUV instead of a compact crossover.
It is impressively comfortable as well. With McPherson independent suspension in front and multi-link in the rear, it delivers an absolutely sedan-like ride.
Wheel size (17s) is just right and keeps noise and harshness levels down even on rough sections of pavement.
Aided by an Auto Start function, fuel consumption on the highway is 13 kilometers per liter and 8.7 kilometers per liter in the city. Very good numbers for a turbocharged crossover.
Large but not cumbersome, powerful yet efficient, and it even comes with a 220v socket in the cabin, plus 1-year free roadside assistance. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 280 TSI may look and feel a little different but it’s still a crossover that rightfully deserves your consideration.
Text and photos by Eric Tipan