Tested: Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI

The new line

I don’t get it. Those words may be laced with ignorance but in my case, I plead sheer and utter confusion, your honour. Not since I drove some low-slung quad-pipe monster has a test car garnered this amount of positive attention. Young kids, Moms and Dads, even the grandparents gawk at the new Volkswagen Tiguan.

More than gawk, actually. After a jovial lunch with a retired couple, they spotted my white 1.4 TSI Tiguan test car in the parking lot and fell over it like a pack of wolves on a three-legged cat. Every door and cubby hole was opened, every button pushed and almost every surface gently caressed with soft groans of approval.

It didn’t stop there. Neighbours, friends, half-forgotten family members, ex-colleagues and a few random strangers swiftly made their way to this car with wide and sparkly eyes. What certainly helped here was the optional R-Line package which gives the new Tiguan a broad, butch and bulky presence on the road.

This is especially true when compared to its more mundane predecessor. Although it wasn’t bad looking, this new model certainly turns more heads. On the less emotional front, it’s also slightly bigger in most crucial dimensions and shows the usual trend of optimised, more efficient drive trains.

OK, so maybe I do get it. Big improvement, especially looks-wise. Another thing I appreciate on the new Tiguan is that they’ve done away with its precursor’s incomprehensible trim levels. Track and Field, Road and Fun, no wait… Field and Road, I think. Or was it Track and Fun? Who came up with this gibberish?

Anyway – good riddance. The Tiguan now falls in line with other VW products and their escalating spec levels of Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Standard features include full stability control (ESP), at least six airbags, alloys, various media inputs with touch-screen, cruise control and multi-function steering wheel. Among others…

Moreover, optional extras can spice up your chosen model. These include LED headlights (from N$7,500), head-up display (N$9,000), leather (N$12,000), power tailgate (N$5,000), panoramic roof (N$10,500), keyless entry (N$4,000), various parking aids and two big multimedia systems (N$4,500 to N$12,000).

Currently there are seven models available, encompassing three engines with six different power outputs, at least two gearboxes and front- or all-wheel-drive. Your nearest Volksie dealer will be all-too-happy to explain everything to you because the range is neatly spread out by price, power and specifications.

Our test car, a 1.4 TSI 92kW Comfortline 2WD Manual, came from the lower echelons of the price list but, like most press demonstrators, was generously dipped into the options sauce. I grew quite fond of the digital instruments (N$8,000), Dynaudio sound system (N$13,000) and everyone’s favourite – the R-Line pack at N$18,000.

Right, performance time. We gave this Tiguan the spurs a few times on a quiet, level road and clocked 0-100km/h in 11.50 seconds with 400m coming up in 17.89 seconds at 126.56km/h. I’m afraid those numbers aren’t very impressive by today’s standards and make this particular Tiguan more show than go.

However – like many a VW before it, this 1.4 turbo-petrol impressed me with its linear power delivery. It’s got decent torque (up to 200Nm) and is a smooth performer in everyday traffic. VW claims average fuel use of 6.1L/100km which sounds absolutely achievable on a steady cruise. Around town, I got about nine.

With a fuel tank size of 58L, that means you can hit 600km between fill-ups; and up to 900km on the open road. Out there, Tiguan can tow 740kg (unbraked), its luggage space is a generous 520 litres or up to 1,655L if you mess with the furniture. Warranty length is three years or 120,000km with a five-year 90k service plan.

Added to that, Tiguan marries the compact SUV ride height (191mm) to decent visibility and superbly suave controls. Steering, pedals and gear lever are all highly obedient and feel as polished and solid as its interior. This is a great place to be in as a driver or passenger; and it feels borderline indestructible.

For those reasons alone, Tiguan gen two gets my approval. In other words, I do actually get it.

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