Comparison: Tucson vs. Tiguan

Do you need a new SUV with fancy tech and a punchy Diesel engine for about half a bar? We compare the surprising Hyundai Tucson with one of the industry’s new pin-up posters, the Volkswagen Tiguan.


Both these cars have a wow-factor, no doubt. The Korean’s flowing “Fluidic Sculpture” design is almost perfectly contrasted by the German’s angular sharpness. It’s beautiful chaos versus cool precision. If we would have to choose between the two, we’d go for the Tiguan at this moment because it’s a little newer and less common than the rental-fleet Tucson.

It must be noted that this Volkswagen’s biggest drawcard is the chunky “R-Line” body kit, an optional extra worth around N$20,000. Some people state that the standard car (sans R-Line kit) looks drab and dull – we think it looks a little more rough and ready – for a plaaspad!


Although we found almost identical measurements for these two, there are a few surprises. Every single occupant thought the Tucson had superior seating space – which it does. The boot also looked bigger than in the Tiguan – but it isn’t. The VW has 520 / 1,655* litres and a Marie-biscuit spare versus the Hyundai’s 488 / 1,478* litres and a full-size spare wheel.

Tucson Tiguan
 Boot space  488L 520L
 Maximum space  1,478L* 1,655L*
 Spare wheel  Full-size Emergency
 Grnd clearance  172mm 189mm

*cargo capacity with rear seats folded down

Crucially, the Tiguan offers maximum ground clearance of 189mm while the Tucson already capitulates at 172. The 4Motion version of the VW goes up to 200mm and offers a choice of turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel engines; Tucson is only available as a 4WD with 1.6 turbo-petrol power and unchanged ground clearance of 172mm.

A Tucson’s curb weight is 1,596kg with a maximum of 2,170kg. It can tow 750kg or 1,900 (braked), the VW does 750kg and 2,200kg (with brakes). Unfortunately we could not source weight specifications for the local Tiguan.


We thoroughly tested the 2.0CRDi Elite Tucson and believe this will be the most popular model – turbo-diesel, automatic and front wheel drive. Maximum outputs are 131kW or 400Nm with six smooth automatic gears alleging a 0-100km/h time of 9.3 seconds and 201km/h top whack.

As a testament to this engine’s linear and lively power delivery, we measured a very impressive 8.78 seconds to 100 at sea level. The motor picks up pace from as low as 1,500rpm and overtaking is no problem except at very high speeds. Hyundai claims 7.9L/100km from the 62L tank… which is easily doable! We even dipped under seven on a careful cruise.

Volkswagen counters with their well-honed TDi engine available in two litres and three states of tune – 81kW, 105kW or 130kW. A bad mark against the Germans is that only the weakest engine is available with two-wheel-drive (but manual gears), the other two necessitate 4Motion; which most owners may not need or want.

Tucson Tiguan
 kw / Nm  131 / 400 130 / 380
 0-100km/h  9.3 (8.78*)  8.3 (8.32*)
 v-max  201  207
 Avg. L/100km  7.9 6.4
 Tank size 62 60

* Tested with Racelogic Performance Box, best of four runs without passengers at sea level 

Our test of the top-spec 130kW 2.0TDi 4Motion Highline R-Line model showed that the VW need not fear its Korean competitor. The motor feels equally punchy and strong with an extra gear and launch control in its DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox helping us to hit the claimed 100km/h time of 8.3 seconds (we recorded 8.32 at sea level).

VW alleges an average diesel use of 6.4L/100km from the Tiguan’s 60L tank which we easily beat to just below six on a slow ‘n steady cruise. If you want to get somewhere though, expect around eight and make sure that the soothingly-smooth and super-fast DSG ‘box is not trapped in its lethargic Eco mode. Typing of which…

Ride and Quality

The Hyundai offers three drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport – and the Volksie puts a customisable “Individual” setting on top of that. Both cars offer the desired drive train responses from these modes but we felt that the Tiguan’s were a little more pronounced.

Ride quality and passenger comfort were good in both SUV’s with the big 20-inch R-Line wheels lending a slight harshness to the VW’s low-speed damping. Get the normal Tiguan or a Tucson for more sensible 18-inch rims and 55-profile rubber.

With both vehicle cabins trimmed in black leather, we weren’t surprised to find the VW’s material feel and fit to be better than the Hyundai’s. However. They’re not worlds apart, nor are leather grain and chrome finesse a selling point for every SUV buyer – some may transport messy kids and animals, in which case your heart will bleed less in the Tucson.

Steering and Brakes

Steering feel and cornering ability of the two rivals are on today’s levels with those big R-Line wheels offering exceptional grip and better tyres. Our Tucson press car wore Korean “Nexen” shoes while the VW obviously rides on German “Continental” rubber.

Our once-off emergency brake test from 100km/h resulted in the following:

  • Tucson stopped in 3.17 seconds at 40.60 meters on dry tarmac
  • Tiguan stopped in 2.89 seconds at 41.64 meters on WET tarmac

Safety and Technology

Both cars pack six airbags and a raft of driver aids with fairly similar EuroNCAP crash test results. Tiguan got 5/5 stars with 96% adult and 84% child occupant protection, Hyundai’s Tucson also achieved 5/5 with 86% adult and 85% child protection. Safety assist scores are 68 and 71% respectively.

Tucson  Tiguan
 EuroNCAP stars  5 of 5  5 of 5
 Adult protection   86%  96%
 Child protection  85%  84%
 Safety assist  71%  68%

Unfortunately, Volkswagen charges extra for some of the gadgets we found in our test car. Its huge infotainment screen was easier to use and more comprehensive (e.g. with vehicle settings and read-outs). Both touch-screen systems managed all popular media, the Hyundai’s more basic one still swallows CD’s but felt a bit… China.

Bluetooth connection to an Android ‘phone was easy in both softroaders but setting up media streaming was a complete nightmare in the Tiguan, as was USB music playback in the Tucson. The optional DynAudio speakers in the VW had more finesse but the Hyundai offered plenty of oomph.

Tucson has a traditional handbrake, Tiguan features an electronic knoppie. Our VW test car had shift paddles on the steering wheel, Hyundai owners need to operate the tip-function on their gear levers for that. Both cars offer hill descent control and comprehensive trip computers.

Price and value

This is where it gets tricky. The Hyundai is “a finished car” at N$550,000 while the VW only starts at N$560,000 with a myriad of optional extras which potentially price it out of this comparison.  Add every available gadget to this Tiguan model and (compatibility allowing) it will add another N$143,750…

The Tucson is your best bet if you want niceties like keyless entry and start, a gigantic sunroof and power seats included in the price. Get the Tiguan if you want all-wheel-drive and space-age goodies like fully digital instruments, heads-up display, power tailgate, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control – at extra cost, of course.

Price is king though and that makes the Tucson our winner in this round of city SUV’s. Both cars are sold with a five-year warranty, the Hyundai’s 150,000 or 200,000km trump the Volkswagen’s 120,000km but be sure to read the fine print! Service plans are identical at five years and 90,000km.

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