Two critics, one car: Iain, Jules and Tiguan
Two critics, one car: Iain, Jules and Tiguan

ONE CAR TWO CRITICS: VW’s sporty Tiguan SUV

UNDER the high-riding five-seat body and classy European styling, VW's Tiguan 162TSI Sportline packs the Golf GTI's 162kW turbo.

The "sport" part of the badge is not immodest either, given its 0-100km/h time of 6.5 seconds, dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels and adaptive chassis control. Will the rapid $45,990 mid-size SUV prove a hit for our family of four on the road in Far North Queensland?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

IAIN: A sporty mid-size European SUV. I know you're grinning already …

JULES: Permission to squeal with excitement?

IAIN: Not since conquistadors brought chocolate back from the Americas have women been intoxicated by a product as quickly as SUVs. But to be fair, the Tiguan Sportline is a desirable thing.

JULES: It has class throughout. That metallic grey with colour-matched 20-inch wheels, sporty exhaust tips, LED headlights - and look at the intricate angular design of the tail-lights. Maybe I don't need an Audi Q5 after all.

Tiguan 162TSI: “A desirable thing,” says Iain. “Class throughout,” says Jules
Tiguan 162TSI: “A desirable thing,” says Iain. “Class throughout,” says Jules

IAIN: The cheapest Audi Q5 is $66K, and this Sportline is a hefty $20K under that.

JULES: Are they rivals though?

IAIN: In size and performance, if not prestige. But VW is gunning for BMW X3, Benz GLC, Volvo XC60 and Q5 buyers here. It's a fair call with this Tiguan having decent infotainment, excellent active safety kit and strong urge from the Golf 2.0 turbo. It looks the goods too.

JULES: What are the SUV alternatives?

IAIN: Think Mazda CX-5 2.5 Akera ($46,190) or Renault Koleos Intens ($43,490), plus the many range-topping Japanese, Korean, Ford and Holden rivals.

JULES: I'd suggest a Golf GTI-powered Tiguan trumps all of the above for style and cachet.

THE LIVING SPACE

IAIN: Inside, it's a cut above for the segment, with that angular theme for vents and handles.

JULES: Where's the leather though?

IAIN: Don't forget this is the cheaper way into a 162kW Tiguan. That means no Vienna leather or heated electric seats as in the 162TSI Highline. Instead you get "ArtVelours microfleece" and cloth upholstery, not unlike Alcantara.

JULES: Seats have a sporty feel but are quite hard.

Tiguan cockpit: Firm, sporty seats, decent infotainment and ample storage
Tiguan cockpit: Firm, sporty seats, decent infotainment and ample storage

IAIN: They proved comfy for our long trips though. And for me, these Tiguans feel very well screwed together. Excellent layout, controls, finish and storage. Hard to fault really.

JULES: True. The plastics are mostly all soft, the steering wheel has the sporty flat bottom and I like the carpet for the giant door pocket storage.

IAIN: My only grumble is you can't option VW's $2000 driver assistance pack, giving an Audi-esque 12.3-inch digital dashboard. You need to buy the $48,990 Highline for that.

JULES: Most important for me is the eight-inch screen with Apple CarPlay.

THE COMMUTE

IAIN: Despite low-profile tyres on 20-inch rims it's a pretty serene ride, only getting a bit crashy on bigger ruts and holes.

JULES: The cabin's very well insulated. Town or highway, it's like a magic carpet ride.

On the road: Tiguan has excellent active safety and strong turbo urge
On the road: Tiguan has excellent active safety and strong turbo urge

IAIN: I wouldn't go that far. But it retains its SUV softer nature, not trying to be too sporty.

JULES: In Comfort mode it goes all pussycat.

IAIN: That's the adaptive chassis control, meaning you get adjustable suspension through different drive modes. For a family SUV, that's a pretty handy trick.

THE SHOPPING

JULES: Rear camera and parking sensors all round are ace. The tailgate opens with a swipe of my foot under the bumper, which
I love, revealing a decent sized boot.

IAIN: It's a whopper compared to a Mazda CX-5 and Renault Koleos. And a fun fact: drop the rear seats and you get 1655L of storage. That's more than VW's Touareg from the large SUV segment.

SUNDAY DRIVE

JULES: Sport mode gives the GTI experience. I like the stiffer suspension, weightier steering and the engine getting revvier. Why didn't they call it a GTI?

IAIN: Sacred badge. Not for SUVs. Well done, VW. It may be quick but physics dictates it doesn't handle as well.

Balanced: All the performance you’ll need from an SUV
Balanced: All the performance you’ll need from an SUV

JULES: It grips well enough if you don't drive like an idiot.

IAIN: Enthusiastically, we call it. It is all the performance you'd ever need from an SUV, I reckon, and feels beautifully balanced. The dual-clutch auto can be a bit slow off the mark at low speed but if you work the paddle-shifters on a back road it's a sporty, engaging drive.

THE FAMILY

IAIN: it's a decent all-rounder as it has all-wheel drive for sketchy road surfaces, can tow 2500kg and rear seat space is ample as you can slide the bench.

JULES: The kids loved the seat back tables to rest books and iPads on.

IAIN: Family budget may count against it. Fuel economy isn't great - we returned 8.9L on test and it needs 95 premium. Plus the warranty is only three years and servicing is expensive.

JULES: Brilliant safety kit though. Radar cruise control is great for traffic and the rear traffic alert is handy when reversing out of spaces alongside higher SUVs.

THE VERDICT

IAIN: The Tiguan's one of my top picks as a mid-size SUV and with the cracking engine and inclusions for $45K, the 162TSI Sportline puts prestige brands on notice.

JULES: Even without leather trim it feels really premium. The performance and technology complete an exceptional package. I'd love an Audi Q5 but this has all I need for $20K less.

VW TIGUAN 162TSI SPORTLINE

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI

PRICE From $45,990 plus on-roads (fair)

WARRANTY/SERVICING 3 years/unlimited km, $1712 for 3 years/45,000km (avg warranty, expensive servicing)

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 162kW/350Nm (rapid; from Golf GTI)

TRANSMISSION 7-speed auto; AWD (expected)

SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, adaptive chassis control/cruise control, side assist with rear traffic alert, lane departure warning with adaptive lane guidance, rear camera, blind spot monitor, park assist, front and rear parking sensors (excellent)

THIRST 8.1L/100km (quite thirsty, 95 RON)

SPARE Space-saver (not ideal)

BOOT 615L (big)



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