More expensive is always the better, right?
To answer in short: No. Ask me what I would purchase with the odd R650,000 and I will without a doubt choose the Volkswagen Golf GTi or even Golf R. These two models are sublime and the ideal small family package for those more inclined to have a heavy right foot.
There is, however, one drawback. With those low-profile tyres and sporty suspension, these models are not ideal for the rougher gravel roads.
So you have between R650,000 and R700,000 to spend, but would like to keep some of the Golf GTi, R sportiness, but in an SUV? Immediately the Tiguan comes to mind. Yes it is larger and taller than the Golf, but has a higher ground clearance and is perfect for urban residents, taking to every urbanite’s favourite beaten paths on weekends.
But what about the sportiness?
Well, take the Tiguan Highline (R675,500) with 4 Motion, a 7-speed DSG and a 2.0 litre 130kW TDi engine. In essence, this is not a slow car… once the wheels are rolling (however not from standstill to 100km/h). It surely will not keep up with the Golf R, but that’s the price to pay when the wish is to take on the gravel roads.
Yet, this engine produces enough power to provide a seamless drive on the open road, with a DSG (dual-clutch transmission) that certainly matches the perfection of the engine.
There is, however, a drawback. Press the stop/ start button for that first ignition in the morning and the diesel engine takes a painfully slow three seconds to spring to life. Also, uncharacteristic of other VW models recently tested, the DSG and throttle response does tend to lag at slower speeds in town.
Again, taking it on the longer road will provide a completely different story, with the diesel engine purring along below 2,000rpm.
But really, there should be a sportier option?
Meet the R-Line package. And as the name suggests, it’s not the full-blown R model.
The R22,400 package will bring with it a sportier (stiffer) suspension, some exterior changes and a beefed-up exterior design, including 20-inch black “Suzuka” alloy wheels.
However, this does not imply that the R-Line will be any more powerful than the Highline derivative. For that, you will have to purchase the full-blown R model.
The R has already been launched in Europe and will house 235kW and 420Nm. Set to reach the 100km/h mark in four seconds, the Tiguan R will be as close to perfection as possible.
Awesome, so it is the ideal package?
Not really. We have previously tested all three versions: the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline iterations of the Tiguan and we have to say that this is one of the best mid-sized SUV’s on the current market.
Yet, adding the R-Line package will not necessarily improve the sportiness or in fact, the ride quality. Sure, the exterior design attracts attention, but ultimately, the stiffer suspension and larger wheels tend to make manhole covers more noticeable than in the normal Tiguan models.
This, in essence, takes away the true design goal of the Tiguan, which has been built to be a comfortable, spacious and fuel-efficient urban-rural hybrid (not hybrid in terms of electricity).
As standard, the Highline is already equipped with features like: 12V socket in the centre console and the luggage compartment, two USB points and one AU port, three-zone climate control with allergen filter, App connect, auto headlight control and daytime running lights, cruise control, ECO range (able to deliver a fuel efficiency figure of six litres per 100km as tested), hill descent control, ISOFIX anchors, park distance control, etc.
However, our R-Line spec test model was also bestowed with optional extras namely: Inductive mobile phone charging, electronic trailer hitch, keyless locking, LED headlamps with a dynamic cornering light, panoramic sunroof, trailer assist system, luggage compartment lightning, a smoker’s package, adaptive cruise control up to 160km/h, area view camera system, multi-color “Active info Display” (gauge cluster) as well as a rear view camera system.
To end off a rather long article, the Tiguan is an ideal model for the urban to rural commute. Should you need something a bit sportier in the same price range, I would without a doubt go for the GTi or Golf R key.
Should the “woo and waa” factor be more important than the car itself, I would go for the Tiguan Highline R-Line package. The awaited R model should pass the R700,000 mark. Although also having an all-wheel-drive system with off-road functions, the low profile suspension and wheel size is set to not match the terrain.
However, to compromise on power, the slightly cheaper Highline is the more practical package.