A staple in the VW range since 2007, the Tiguan has quietly built a following that thrives on words like utility and value. For 2023, we have a facelifted 2nd gen’ that comes in multiple variants starting with the ‘Trend’ at an affordable starting price of Dh95,500, followed by the ‘Life’ & ‘Elegance’ models. And at the top sits the Tiguan R-line which we took for a spin, looking for answers that can help with your next SUV purchase.
Design and aesthetics
Size-wise, the Tiguan is a compact SUV, perfect for quick runabouts within the city, be it commuting to work or grocery shopping without being difficult in parking lots. It is also sized to take on long-haul excursions without feeling dinky or bullied on the highway.
Style-wise, it has a design that is decidedly Germanic, dominated by straight lines and wedges. Upfront are sets of double LED headlamp clusters that neatly merge into a large, slatted grille. The pronounced shoulder crease extends to the rear where you will find rhomboid taillamps, also lit by LEDs. Even as straightforward and geometric as it is, the Tiguan R-line has the power to draw eyes wherever it goes, especially in the Lapiz Blue metallic paint scheme and Black Style package (both not pictured here). The latter is a must-have in my opinion. It adds black elements like the grille, mirror housing, and sporty 20-inch Suzuka wheels rendering a very aptly aggressive visual. The faux exhaust tips though… not my cup of tea!
The slightly elevated ride height puts the Tiguan in the Goldilocks zone. This means easy ingress/egress for all folks and hassle-free placement of your toddler in his/her car seat. The R-line’s interior gets a black scheme with plentiful polygonal designs found in the air vents, speakers, instrument bezel, etc., and satin metallic trims to add some sparkle. It also gets carbon-fibre-like trims to break the monochrome. And it fares better at night with the 30-color ambient lighting system.
The standard Titan Black/Flint Grey upholstery got upgraded to Vienna leather in our test car, which is a hide that trades resilience for plushness. But the Tiguan stamps itself as a people carrier with oodles of space up front and even in the rear, there’s plenty of legroom for 6 footers. A ‘2 adult and 1 child’ rear arrangement seems the most efficient fit though. Thankfully, the rear also gets A/C vents with controls to keep the backbenchers comfy as they stare out into the sky through the panoramic roof. That accommodating characteristics extend itself to the central cubby, felt-lined door bins, and cupholder tray that can hold up to 2 beverages and snacks. This vehicle is also well-prepped in the digital department, with a customizable 10.25-inch instrument cluster and 9.2-inch multimedia touchscreen. The resolution on both is decent and the graphics livid, but the finicky touch steering controls on the steering make it a hassle to navigate menus. The Tiguan is a familiar place if you’ve driven VWs before, neat and functional, but don’t expect it to leave you in awe of its aesthetics.
Powertrain and performance
The Tiguan has two powertrain options, a 1.4-litre and a 2.0-litre motor, both turbocharged. This R-line variant gets an uprated version of the latter to match its aggressive styling. The 4-pot is good for 222 PS and 350 Nm, which is plenty of poke to help it clock a spritely 6.8 seconds run to a ton. So it’s zippy!
Given the higher ride height, you do have a good view of the road ahead and all around. Add the 3-spoke flat-bottom steering pilfered from the Golf R to the equation, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, and 4motion all-wheel-drive system and you can take on meandering mountain road with confidence. But in the end, it’s meant for fun-spirited drives, not racetrack antics. And while there are offroad modes, I suggest you keep to the tarmac where possible.
As for everyday driving, the R-line even with the chatter from the low-profile tyres, delivers a compliant ride and a well-insulated cabin to keep conversations clear. While costs are kept reasonably low with a real-world economy of around 9.5 km/l thanks to its general lightweight characteristic and stop/start function, leaving you with a theoretical range of 600 km from the 60-litre tank.
Features and practicality
The Tiguan keeps the family connected with 3 USB Type-C ports – 2 up front and 1 in the rear – and a wireless charger to juice up your smartphone, in case you forgot to plug it in the night before. And when you’ve synced your phone via Bluetooth as any citizen of the digital era would, you can introduce your playlist to your friends via a loud 480-Watt 9 speaker Harman Kardon system. As for driver assistance, you have a retractable head-up display, a decent 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, and lane assist.
When it’s time to load up you have an electric tailgate that opens to a 615-litre space – large enough for strollers and groceries. A big plus! You can also throw in more stuff by dropping the 40:20:40 split folding seats for a total of 1,655litres.
If it’s an affordable and practical SUV you’re after, the Volkswagen Tiguan is one to consider. You get functional space for five and luggage, digital and connectivity options, and some style as well. With the 2023 Tiguan R-line, you gain the advantage of sporty Golf R-inspired looks (especially in that Blue/black paint job), a peppier motor, and upgraded chassis dynamism. On the flip side, it isn’t the first name in reliability or residual value and touch controls are finicky. The AED 181,800 sticker price does seem heftier than expected, but the fact it has no real competition makes you appreciate its overall value more.
Tiguan name is a portmanteau of the German words for “tiger” and “Leguan” (meaning iguana)
GOOD: Golf R-like styling; space and practicality; upgraded chassis dynamics
BAD: Interior lacks awe; finicky touch controls; tad pricey
RATING: 7.5/10 stars
Body type – 5-seater; 5-door compact SUV
Engine – Front-engine; turbocharged 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder; all-wheel drive
Transmission – 7-speed DSG (automated manual)
Peak output – 220 PS @ rpm – 350 Nm @ rpm
0 to 100km/h – 6.8 seconds (claimed)
Top speed – 222 km/h (drag limited; claimed)
Fuel economy – 11.7 km/L (claimed)
Price – Starting at Dh138,600
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