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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 7 April, 2020

The new Volkswagen Tiguan SUV is finally here - so was it worth the wait?

We test drive Volkswagen’s small SUV on Irish roads.

Image: Paddy McGrath

THE SMALL SUV segment is mighty competitive, and the quality of cars on offer has improved vastly over the last few years. So Volkswagen has decided to improve its offering, the Tiguan, which first hit our shores a decade ago.

So has it been worth the wait? What does the Tiguan bring to the table?

Well, the first thing you notice about the car is its smart, chunky styling which makes it look quite trendy. It has sharp creases in its bonnet and a face that has been nicked off the Passat but given some SUV style. It has a sporty look with a nice wide stance.

Source: Paddy McGrath

Even though the Tiguan is billed as a small SUV it really doesn’t feel small inside, thanks to its spacious and airy cabin. There is plenty of leg and headroom in the back but if you need a bit more room the rear bench seat is longitudinally movable. It is also asymmetrically split folding in a 40/20/40 formation and the seats recline too making this cabin extremely flexible.

Source: Paddy McGrath

The spaciousness continues in the cargo area which can hold a massive 615 litres with the seats in place. This increases to 1,655 litres with the seats tumbled which can be easily done via a lever in the boot. The seats lie almost flat and combine with a low load lip and wide opening to make the boot very practical indeed.

Practicality is also the name of the game in the cabin, where there are loads of large storage areas and cubby holes as well as nifty picnic tables with built-in cup holders on the back of the seats. These are on a ratchet system and are really sturdy – perfect for kids to lean on.

Source: Dave Humphreys

Up front, the cockpit is positioned slightly towards the driver which makes everything that bit easier to use. It’s a little plain but it is intuitive, everything falls to hand pretty much and the touchscreen infotainment system works a treat.

The whole cabin just feels very well screwed together, functional and a bit more upmarket than some other offerings in the same class.

Source: Dave Humphreys

The Tiguan is offered in three trim levels – Trendline, Comfortline and Highline – and a range of five engines: a 1.4-litre 125hp petrol, and four 2.0-litre TDI variants at 115hp, 150hp, 190hp and 240hp. Depending on trim and engine, there is a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and 4Motion four-wheel drive technology.

My test car was powered by the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI engine mated to the six-speed manual gearbox. It was the Highline trim model with 18-inch alloys (17s are standard).

Source: Dave Humphreys

This second-generation Tiguan is the first Volkswagen Group SUV to be based on the MQB (modular transverse matrix) platform, which also underpins the Golf. And out on the road, it kind of feels like… a big tall Golf.

It is comfortable and easy to drive and does a great job of soaking up lumps and bumps, even on the larger 18-inch wheels, yet the suspension is firm enough not to have the back seat passengers reaching for sick bags. Body roll is well controlled in the corners and grip is good too, even in the wet.

The steering is accurate and well-weighted and overall the car handles really well – great front visibility and a commanding driving position also help make it a very nice drive. Rear visibility isn’t as good but it’s not terrible, and ParkPilot does come as standard from Comfortline onwards.

Source: Dave Humphreys

The cabin is well insulated from road noise and the standard 17-inch alloys should improve this even more over the larger wheels of my test car. There is a bit of wind noise around the wing mirrors when you get the speed up and there is a bit of clatter from the diesel engine especially when idling, but overall the cabin is quiet.

In terms of safety, well, the Tiguan has brought its A-game – EuroNCAP awarded it ‘Best in Class’ in the small off-roader segment. Helping achieve this are safety features like its automatic post-collision braking system which helps to avoid dangerous secondary collisions, its network of seven airbags – including a knee airbag on the driver’s side – and its active bonnet which reduces the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists by lifting upward in the event of an impact – rising 50mm within 22 milliseconds of an impact.

Passenger detection, lane departure warning and lane assist also come as standard.

Source: Paddy McGrath

Overall, it feels like the Volkswagen Tiguan was worth waiting for. Its combination of smart looks, spacious practical cabin, excellent safety features and great road handling make it an impressive package.

The only immediate downside to this car is its price. Starting at €29,860, it is priced higher than some of its rivals – however, you do feel like you are getting what you pay for. It feels like a quality product, and should be rivalling more premium brands.

Get your head around the price and you will be getting one of the better small SUVs on the market – and, if it helps, it should also hold its resale value well too.

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About the author:

Melanie May  /

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