For a brief moment, in the parking lot where I met the Tiguan for the first time, it looked like an overgrown Golf. Quickly getting over the illusion, I realized that, it is one extremely roomy passenger cabin fitted with a sporty engine, and a styling that renders boot space as an appendix to the features list.
As far as memory goes, Volkswagen was one of the first to usher in the European trend of downsizing the engine while charging the wheels with turbo-thrust. So, if 200 hp doesn’t sound like a lot, an aggressive 280 Nm of torque available on a good sailing range (1700 to 4500 rpm) does make sure it feels that way.
The Tiguan is the owner of a clear, crisp tenor. But the 2.0 L engine can hardly be heard unless your determined leg coaxes it to croon. The response is distinctively sporty with the speedo needle climbing in leaps of tens while the tachometer ascends a 5000 + without ever causing your acrophobia to act up.
In the Tiguan 2012, cushioned damping and useful road feedback find an almost perfect balance. The steering does justice to the legacy it hails from, with its easy poise at standstill and progressive firmness with speed. Fog lamps with turning lights and the fatigue recognition feature make sure you can safely drive on to your destination, long after dusk.
Even as I happily played with the rush of power, the Tiguan occasionally gave the feeling of being too compact to handle it – but honestly, there was no real reason I could pin it down on, except perhaps that feeling of a high centre of gravity. That aside, I did eventually ride its sporty spirit to approximate the claimed 0-100 figures to a mere .15 sec!
Chances are, this SUV was probably designed as an observation deck before Wolfsburg decided to add wheels to it. The high seating, straight A-pillars and the panoramic windscreens make for excellent road-watching, combined with the windows that are almost on chest level with the occupants. The rear view is also exceptionally wide and unhindered by the headrests. Despite a gently ascending window line, thanks to the greenhouse design, the Tiguan 2012 isn’t plagued by any vision deficiency unlike many of the “stylish” SUVs these days. Now, the downside is that one feels slightly exposed.
My drive was the Sport & Style edition. The New York 7J x 18” alloy wheels, roof railings, chrome trims on the side windows, lower side sills and the air intake grille set it apart from the Trend & Fun version while the oval black bezel fog lamps look their part in the gently sporty façade.
Cabin and controls
The cabin flaunts the elegant, minimalistic design of a Volkswagen, with fewer buttons to deal with. The 8–speaker audio system comes with a touch screen that is shared with the camera and navigation, in models equipped with those.
While the sunroof running almost end-to-end is a nice feature, the thin fabric shades beneath isn’t. Generously endowed with glass around the cabin, these could let in a little extra sunshine during the warmer months than you would appreciate.
While the backup camera of the Touareg is flawless in every way, this one felt slightly more shadowy and darker. On the other hand, the rear view mirror belongs to a vanity kit – the view is so clear that it even makes you look good in it (at least it worked with me!).
I’ve noticed an interesting fact about the Tiguan. When families calls for a car-purchase meeting, often the women tilt the scale in this car’s favour – much to the men’s relief, I must add, who fear something sissy coming up!
The fact is that the new Tiguan gives everyone a reason to fall for it. Those in favour of muscles will find a turbo-pack that can surprise even the biggies on the road while hesitant drivers will be mighty impressed by the compactness, the ease of steering and the generous all-round vision. They couldn’t ask for more when it comes to the utter ease of parking – but there is more. The Tiguan can park itself at the touch of a button!
The new Tiguan would get majority family voting for ensuring ample legroom for every occupant – the only protest coming from those who insist on a pair of oversized Samsonites to travel in the Tiguan’s 470L boot. However, with the rear seats folded, you can move a leviathan comfortably. Cabin storage extends into the concealed niches next to the rear seats; while for long journeys when lunch is served, there are folded trays ready at the back.
The way it is built, my Tiguan did not display remarkable off-road inclinations – but the Track & Style version comes equipped with several off-road assist features like an off-road bumper with a higher approach angle, under-ride guard and hill descent control.
The Essential Tiguan
You don’t expect an SUV that you almost tower over, to astound you with performance. As Tiguan lends itself to this prejudice, I suggest you play around a bit with your toy. Excellent traction and torque balance (with almost zero wheel spin), an impeccable stability control system, precise roundabout manners and lane changing, minimal body roll – the Volkswagen Tiguan 2012 gives good value for thinking in Euros. The new Tiguan is a compact crossover with poise that is maintained all through the drive.
UPSIDE: Sporty drive, silent cabin, spacious seating, superior interiors and features
FLIPSIDE: crammed boot space, thin fabric sunroof visor, rough leather seats may not be everyone’s favourite, compact feeling
Drive Courtesy: Volkswagen Middle East/Al Nabooda Automobiles
Picture Courtesy: Madhu Kunhappan/Supplied