I’ve driven most of the vehicles Volkswagen brings to Singapore, and to be frank I’ve never thought that the original Tiguan was an exceptional vehicle, though it was highly competent as a Euro lifestyle SUV for Sunday shopping trips and transporting the kids to soccer. Interior trim and appointments were fairly basic though, and it looked pretty ordinary compared to some of its rivals like the Nissan Qashqai.
After ten years VW have finally introduced a second generation Tiguan with a lower, 20% lighter body and longer wheelbase, new body styling and LED projection headlights. The Tiguan now comes in three versions in Singapore – two FWD vehicles powered by VW’s 1.4 litre TSI and the topline R-Line 380 TSI 4MOTION AWD version we drove, powered by the very versatile 2.0-litre 16 valve turbocharged TSI petrol engine most commonly found in the VW Golf GTI.
The introduction of the R-Line model is to make the Tiguan more attractive in an SUV market currently dominated by luxury rivals including the Audi Q2, which shares the same MQB family platform as the Tiguan. To keep up with its well-appointed competitors, the Tiguan R-Line now comes with a host of safety and assistance systems including Front Assist with City Emergency braking, Dynamic Chassis Control System and Adaptive Cruise Control – which ties into the Front Assist system during highway driving to keep you stationed the proper safety distance from the car ahead of you.
Brand new on the inside
Colour me surprised when I got into the driver’s seat of the new second-generation 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 380 TSI and recognised the classic D-shaped steering wheel from the VW Golf GTI. Well, it isn’t exactly similar but does have the same sporty electronic gear shifting paddles located just behind the wheel spokes. A large configurable driver display enables you to switch between driving, navigation and entertainment modes, but there’s also a Heads Up Display (HUD) that provides vehicle speed, cruise control info and GPS navigation prompts so that you can just drive without being distracted by the driver display.
For entertainment there’s a centrally mounted 8-inch colour touchscreen that on the R-Line handles the vehicle’s Discover Pro infotainment system and 400-watt Dynaudio Excite Surround System which has a host of tuning options, including the ability to preset the audio to focus on the driver’s seat (if you tend to drive alone). It’s also fully compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay services.
The interior of the new Tiguan R-Line is a vast improvement from the plain classic greys of the previous Tiguan generation, with a more stylistic trim and better material, such as the leather trimmed seats. Overall the interior cabin has quite a spaciousness about it thanks to the relocation of the door pillars and this is further enhanced by the huge panoramic sunroof – which VW claims is the largest for the car’s segment. The boot is also spacious, and the boot door has a ‘easy open’’ detector that will open when you wave at the sensor (provided you have the remote key in your pocket of course) and handily located levers that let you fold down the back seats without having to open the rear passenger doors.
On the Road and off
Now when you usually drive a compact SUV they aren’t really all that fun to drive as most models are basically lifestyle focused vehicles with anemic engines, front wheel drive and average handling capabilities. The Tiguan R-Line is almost a different beast altogether thanks to the 2.0 TSI turbocharged engine, which delivers 220PS power and 350Nm torque to get the Tiguan going from zero to 100kmh in a very respectable 6.5 seconds. It pretty much has the same 7-speed DSG gearbox and electronic vehicle dynamics system as the Golf GTI, with the added benefit of VW’s 4MOTION AWD system, so it handles very assuredly on the road, and like the GTI with you can change the engine settings from Eco to Sports and the suspension from Comfort to Dynamic easily for better driveability.
Driving in Eco mode especially feels quite relaxed and natural, but when you need the power to overtake on a highway you can just flick the gear-stick to Sports or use the electronic paddles to drop down a gear, put your foot down and feel the SUV smoothly accelerate. The driving position is excellent and actually quite like a car’s instead of the upright position you find in some SUVs and the Vienna leather seats are well padded and comfortable, and with the small steering wheel you get a more direct feel for the road. On a curvy road you can put it into Sports/Dynamic mode and enjoy a lively drive – not to the extent of how the Golf GTI handles but definitely more dynamic than most SUVs.
Off-road the Tiguan R-Line is actually pretty decent, with excellent power and torque plus an 11mm higher ground clearance than its predecessor. Although it wasn’t made for bush-bashing in off-road mode the Tiguan R-Line will handle muddy tracks and gravel easily, and you can even set the driver’s dashboard to display wheel and vehicle angles.
Overall the new Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 380 TSI is a big improvement on its predecessor and has the same VW versatility trait that the Golf GTI has – you can happily drive it as a normal everyday vehicle but when you need more power and better handling it’s there at the flick of a switch.
Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 380 TSI (2017)
Specifications correct at time of review. For further information please visit your local Volkswagen dealer
Engine Type: 4-cylinder TSI petrol engine with 16 valves, turbocharged
Capacity: 2.0 litre
Power: 220PS/4,500 – 6,200 rpm
Torque: 350Nm/1,500-4,400 rpm
Drive: Permanent AWD (4MOTION)
Emission Category: Euro 6
Top Speed: 220kmh
0-100kmh: 6.5 seconds
Combined fuel consumption: 8.0
Fuel capacity: 60 litres