Volkswagen Tiguan Sport R-Line review

Wolfsburg gives its popular small crossover a much-needed revamp. We drive the second-generation CUV to see if it can take on significantly improved rivals
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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February 11, 2017
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM(1/7)
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM(2/7)
A complete redesign in line with VW’s current styling language means the new Tiguan looks much better than before
A complete redesign in line with VW’s current styling language means the new Tiguan looks much better than before(3/7)
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM(4/7)
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM
Photos: Aiza Castillo-Domingo/ANM(5/7)
The cabin is solidly put together and ergonomically laid out in typical Volkswagen fashion
The cabin is solidly put together and ergonomically laid out in typical Volkswagen fashion(6/7)
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot makes 220bhp and 350Nm, which is more than enough to lug the small crossover around with ease
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot makes 220bhp and 350Nm, which is more than enough to lug the small crossover around with ease(7/7)

The Tiguan has been quite a success story for Volkswagen. Since its launch in 2007, the small crossover has found more than 2.8 million homes across the world. However, it made the same mistake that most success stories make, hung around for a bit too long, and inevitably, ended up looking jaded in the company of its modern rivals. Although a bit late, Volkswagen has finally remedied this by infusing some long-overdue freshness into the second-generation Tiguan, first shown at last year’s Frankfurt show and now available here.

As we’ve seen over the years, Volkswagen has this uncanny ability to design cars that are good-looking and elegant but still seamlessly blend into the landscape. The new Tiguan is no different, although significantly better-looking than its predecessor and not as inconspicuous. The first thing you notice is how the CUV has grown in overall proportions. Built on the brand’s new MQB platform, the Tiguan measures 4,486mm in length, and 1,839mm in width, which makes it a good 60mm longer and 30mm wider than the first-gen model. The wheelbase has also been extended by 77mm to 2,681mm. Add to these the reduction in height, standing at 1,646mm now, and the Tiguan has a much more purposeful and dynamic stance than before. The redesigned radiator grille, the LED projection headlights, sharply creased character lines, a higher waistline and the attention-grabbing LED taillights add to the crossover’s good looks.

The thorough revamp has been carried over to the interior as well, with the driver-oriented cockpit looking distinctly modern and unmistakably Volkswagen in layout and build quality. Most of the areas in the cabin that you’d tend to come in contact with are made of soft-touch plastics, with hard materials hidden away in the lower portions. Buttons and knobs are all ergonomically placed, with the new 4Motion Active Control rotary switch positioned right behind the gear shifter within easy reach of the driver. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the cabin is considerably more spacious than before, being 26mm longer overall, and providing 29mm more knee room for rear passengers. And remarkably, despite the lower overall height, and the raised seat height, there’s ample headroom for adult passengers in the front and the back. And the rear bench can be slid fore and aft by up to 180mm, leaving an impressive 615 litres of boot space behind it, which can be expanded to a generous 1,655 litres if the rear seats are folded away.

All these combine to make the Tiguan one of the most practical crossovers in its class, and I would have had no hesitation in declaring it the best family crossover around either. However, the overall sense of refinement in the cabin isn’t up to what I had expected in a thoroughly updated Volkswagen. Maybe it’s the 20in Suzuka wheels that our top-of-the-line Sport R-Line version rides on, but the Tiguan doesn’t match the level of smoothness and sophistication in ride quality that rivals like the new Ford Edge offer. While this takes away a bit of sheen from its appeal as a family hauler, it is remarkably better to drive than most of its competitors. Thanks to the optimised body structure, reduced weight and torsional rigidity of 28,000Nm/degree for the model without a panoramic roof and 25,000Nm/degree for the model with the panoramic roof, the Tiguan displays very good body control and confidence-inspiring dynamics. The steering is direct and responsive and feels precisely weighted in Normal mode, firming up considerably in Sport. Our tester comes powered by a 220bhp version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, mated to a seven-speed DGS transmission. Although it can sound a bit raspy on acceleration, it provides quick, effortless progress with sharp gear changes and settles down to smooth and even highway speeds.

In addition to standard features, the R-Line trim adds brushed stainless steel pedals, leather-wrapped multifunction three-spoke steering wheel with an ‘R’ logo, shift paddles, R-specific bumper and sill extension, 20in Suzuka alloys, black headliner and front scuff plates in aluminium, with “R-Line” logo among others.

The 4Motion all-wheel drive system comes with Snow, Onroad, Offroad and Offroad Individual modes, which combined with a towing capacity of up to 2,500kg, lend the Tiguan some impressive off-road credentials, but given the ground clearance, it’s better to keep those escapades not too far away from civilisation.

Overall, the new Tiguan represents a substantial upgrade over the previous generation, and priced between Dh89,957 and Dh132,337 across five trims, it offers good value too, especially if you’re looking for a German crossover below Dh150K.

Specs and rating

Model:Tiguan Sport R-Line

Engine:2.0-litre four-cyl turbo

Transmission:Seven-speed auto, AWD

Max power:220bhp @ NA

Max torque:350Nm @ 1,500rpm

Top speed:220kph

0-100kph:6.5sec

Length:4,486mm

Width:1,839mm

Height:1,646mm

Wheelbase:2,681mm

Weight:NA

On sale:Now

Highs:Sharper looks, roomy interior, good to drive

Lows:A bit more refinement would have been nice