Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Road Test and Review of the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trend & Fun

A combination of the words 'tiger' and 'leguan' (German for 'iguana'), the name 'Tiguan' was chosen from VW's shortlist after the company received around 350,000 suggestions from readers of the German magazine, Auto Bild. We like the name, especially since others under consideration were Rockton, Nanuk, Samun and Namib.

With its somewhat muscular and purposeful stance, unique front and rear-ends, the Volkswagen Tiguan Trend & Fun is refreshing to look at when compared to other compact SUV's such as BMW's aging X3 and Honda's ugly duckling, the CR-V. The Trend & Fun specification model comes with VW's 16-inch San Francisco wheels, although there are some good looking 19″ alternatives available. The chrome grill surround, colour coded exterior mirrors and door handles, are standard across the range. Overall the Tiguan is well proportioned and stands out on the road.

Once inside you are hugged by supportive front seats. The optional electric seat adjustment on our test car meant an almost infinite number of driving positions are available and, when combined with the optional heated seats, made for a very comfortable journey, especially in the Cape winter. The interior is luxuriously appointed and we found the fit and finish to be excellent. The controls are in the right places and easy to use. The touch-screen radio is user-friendly and the 8-speaker system provides good sound quality, especially if you have an MP3 player, which connects via the auxillary connection in the centre armrest.

Rear passengers have ample leg room and a centre armrest with two cup holders. The rear seats are foldable in a 60/40 split, have recliner adjustment, and another feature is that they are longitudinally adjustable, i.e slide forwards and backwards. Boot space is 471-litres, or 1 510-litres with the seats folded forward, and should be enough for luggage for four, or your monthly shopping. Numerous safety-features including 6 air bags; anti-lock brakes; electronic stability programme; side impact protection and Isofix anchor points in the rear - which are all standard across the Tiguan range - contribute to its 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

At 200 mm, the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trend & Fun has a fair amount of ground clearance when compared to others in its class. The ride height gives one a good all-round view of the road, however the relatively chunky c-pillar can be an obstacle on occasion. When combined with VW's permanent four-wheel drive (4Motion) the Tiguan has the credentials, on paper at least, to deliver a competent off-road drive. However, and this is generally the case with the majority of SUV owners, we didn't get to test it. Like most Tiguan drivers our time was spent almost exclusively in the urban jungle and on the black stuff. But the Tiguan feels at home on the tar. The ride is firm but comfortable and the 4Motion provides sure-footed progress, especially in the wet. Steering is direct and well weighted when on the move, thanks to the speed-sensitive power steering. However, we felt that the steering could've been lighter when maneuvering around town or in tight places.

Giving the Tiguan its legs is the world's first direct-injection petrol engine with twin charging technology. The 1,4-litre engine boasts both a turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger. This innovative combination ensures power delivery throughout the rev range with little or no turbo lag and equates to more power but with better fuel consumption than a similarly powerful 2,0-litre motor. The 1,4-litre TSI produces 110kW at 5 800 rpm and a healthy 240 Nm of torque between 1 750 and 4 000 rpm. Although peak power is produced relatively high up the rev range, the good spread of torque makes the Tiguan an enjoyable drive - and this is the little 1,4-litre's ace. At highway speeds you can cruise comfortably in 6th gear and cruise up most hills without having to stir the gearbox. Even when driving at urban speeds, the motor pulls in 5th and 6th gears from 80 km/h without complaint. The motor is responsive and speaks to the driver with a tenacious little growl. It's just a pity the gearbox isn't as slick as the engine it's mated to. We found it to be notchy and, when hustled through the gears, somewhat clumsy.

We like...

  • Styling.
  • Well appointed interior.
  • Firm but comfortable ride.
  • Quality fit and finish usually associated with more expensive cars.
  • Great 'little' TSI engine, with its responsiveness and tenacious growl.
We would like...

  • Traditional parking brake, as opposed to the electronic one fitted, which seemed to behave inconsistently.
  • Better synchro'd manual gearbox, or VW's accomplished DSG automatic.
  • Lighter steering at slow speed.
  • An auto-folding function for the relatively bulbous side mirrors - think tight parking spots or busy on-street parking.
Quick Facts

  • Engine Capacity: 1 390 cm³
  • No. Of Cylinders: 4-cylinders, in-line
  • Aspiration: Supercharged & Turbocharged
  • Power: 110 kW @ 5 800rpm
  • Torque: 240 Nm @ 1 750 - 4 000rpm
  • Drive type: Permanent four-wheel
  • Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 9.6 seconds (claimed)
  • Top Speed: 192 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.4 l/100km (claimed combined)