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The motor company PR departments are on annual shutdown so I am too. In other words, this will be my final review for the year. The companies re-open about mid-January and test cars will be available again after that.
In the meantime, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas, a Blessed Hanukkah or, if you're North American, Happy Holidays!
Posted: 8 December 2016
Base price: R457 680
Engine: 1395 cc, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder, turbopetrol
Power: 110 kW between 5000 and 6000 rpm
Torque: 250 Nm between 1500 and 3500 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 9.2 seconds
Maximum speed: 200 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 8.8 l / 100 km
Tank: 58 litres
Luggage: 520 / 615 – 1665 litres
Ground clearance (standard): 189 mm
Warranty: 3 years / 120 000 km
Service plan: 5 years / 90 000 km at 15 000 km intervals
This is one of those models in which the term “new” actually means what it says on the tin or, in this case, the Welcome screen in the display panel. Our immediate thought was, “What about when it gets older?” VW has that covered - the welcome screen can be changed to read simply “Tiguan” when its owner reckons the time is right.
What changed: First, it’s built on the since-2012 MQB platform like Golf, Passat and Q3. Its wheelbase is 77 mm longer, the body was stretched 60 millimetres, it stands 33 mm lower and is 30 mm wider. All you need concern yourself with is that back seat knee room is 29 millimetres longer; head space has increased although you sit 8 mm higher; the rear hatch is slightly larger and luggage volume is up to 145 litres bigger. Styling changes reduced its co-efficient of drag (Cd) from 0.37 to 0.32 so it slips through the air more efficiently. And the bigger body weighs about 53 kg less. Total length is still only 4.49 metres, so it’s nicely manageable.
Second, there has been a change of 1400 cc petrol engine. New Tiguans use the 1395 cc (smaller bore with longer stroke for better torque delivery) motor, instead of the old 1390, and power outputs are now 92- and 110 kW rather than 90 and 118. They power three models in two trim levels and with manual or automatic. All have 4x2 drivetrains.
The only way to get automatic is to go with the 110 kW engine - with a surprise of its own. Selective cylinder de-activation cuts power to cylinders two and three, when demand is light, to save fuel. Top of range at present is a two-litre, 162-kW TSI with 4Motion awd. Although diesel versions are expected later, none has arrived here yet.
Third, VW moved away from old-Tiguan’s odd-sounding “trend, sport, style and fun” model names to more familiar Trendline, Comfortline and Highline.
Fourth, there are more electronic toys. Motor industry propaganda tells us that every manufacturer has mastered mechanical reliability, good build quality, decent handling and all-encompassing safety kit. The only way to differentiate, they say, is to try and outdo each other with more and more connectivity. The PR machine further insists that nobody would even consider any car that doesn’t feature every known communications gadget. We’re unconvinced, but who are we to argue?
In order to try and accommodate buyers’ diverse needs, VW offers three infotainment setups. Kicking off, is the standard five-inch touchscreen “Composition Colour” Radio/CD with MP3 compatibility, 8-speakers, SD Card and Aux-in connection. It includes Bluetooth and USB interface. Next is the optional 6.5-inch touchscreen “Composition Media” Radio/CD with MP3/WMA, 8-speakers, Bluetooth, SD Card, USB interface and Aux-in. Further up-scale, Discover Pro navigation units feature larger eight-inch displays with DVD Drive.
Optional App-Connect (R1 500), links with compatible smartphones to enable selected apps, such as music streaming and navigation, on the touchscreen display. And Active Info Display at R8 000 turns your dashboard into an interactive experience allowing you to customise the display from infotainment to navigation or driver assistance systems.
Delivering really impressive sound is an optional 400-Watt Dynaudio Excite surround system with its digital, ten-channel amplifier tucked into the spacesaver spare wheel. It delivers balanced, individual amplification to eight regular stereo speakers plus a subwoofer and a centre unit integrated into the cockpit. This extra centre channel ensures even sound balance in the car's interior. The low-resonance speakers are carefully tuned to the Tiguan’s ambience.
Because some of our readers like their music loud, we tried this at sound levels that, quite frankly, hurt the editorial ears. Sustained opera-voice high notes could get a little wobbly at times but drum beats were unbeatable (groan). They remained crisp and sharp, ended cleanly and showed no signs of splashiness.
Fans can comfortably spend R13 000 on that, plus another R4350 for the Composition Media radio and CD head-unit. But if you have cloth ears or listen primarily to CDs, basic Composition Colour would be perfectly adequate. Usefully, the armrest box in the centre console accommodates ten discs in standard jewel cases.
Our test car (110 kW, six-speed DSG, Comfortline) came with an R-Line pack at R18 000. This consists of sporty suspension; body-coloured rear spoiler, bumpers and sill extensions; black surrounds on the wheel arches; black hoodlining and 8.5J x 19-inch Sebring wheels with 245/45 rubber. Despite the “sport” suspension its ride was not unduly harsh, while choppy dirt road surfaces could not upset its composure. That’s despite an instance of severe provocation – a big pothole that remained unseen until it was too late.
Typically VW, this Tiguan feels tight and solid, fit and finish is good and the familiar six-speed DSG ‘box responds quickly. Manual override is by choice of stick or paddles. The engine maintained cruising speeds easily and accelerated cleanly under pressure. Like most modern cars, one has a choice of vehicle response modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal and Sport. Unfortunately these are hidden within a menu. There are a couple of blank switch positions on the centre console, so we’d prefer to find the selector there.
In an attempt to satisfy users of most sizes, while acknowledging every family’s right to sufficient luggage space, the rear seats (with reclinable backrests) adjust fore and aft over a range of 18 centimetres. That’s stretch-out luxury to little-kids-only. Head space is comfortable for six-footers and foot room is generous.
Satellite air vents with temperature adjusters help to keep everyone warm or cool, there are two cup holders in the fold-down arm rest that doubles as a load-through hatch, and three belts and head restraints look after safety. Minor concerns are that the middle passenger had better be small because the centre hump is big. And only two passengers can use the fitted pair of drop-down picnic tables.
New Tiguan has won its share of “best SUV” awards overseas and it’s easy to see why. It’s competitively priced, plenty big enough, hauls luggage, hauls ass and it’s “Connected”. Don’t forget connected.
Test unit from VWSA press fleet
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