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VW Tiguan 2.0 TSI 180 Outdoor (2016) review

Published:12 April 2016

VW Tiguan 2.0 TSI 180 Outdoor (2016) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

► New 2.0-litre turbo petrol Tiguan tested
► Outdoor pack: 24-deg approach/departure angles
► Predictably competent and clever tech

Make way! Make way – for the gen two Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s bigger! Roomier! Safer! Better equipped! But it is of course also lighter and more efficient. As the first VW Group SUV to be based on the all-conquering MQB platform that underpins Golf and company, pretty much all of these things are a given about the 2016 Tiguan from the start.

In fact, putting aside the fact that the front end looks like it was styled after Geordi La Forge, there is little about the new Tiguan you couldn’t predict. Though given the success of the preceding model – VW UK’s third best-selling model after Golf and Polo – that should hardly be taken as a criticism. After all, Volkswagens and compact SUVs have plenty of contemporary individual cachet, so bringing the two things together is a quite sensible exercise in simply giving people what they want.

Still, the Mk1 Tiguan wasn’t exactly a fireball full of excitement. So, in an effort to see if the Mk2 can get anywhere near to quickening a pulse, we’ve bagged a go in the 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol ‘off-road’ version with the ‘Outdoor pack’ and 177bhp. A combo that’s yours for an eye-watering £32,465.

Off-road version? Does anyone actually off-road in a Tiguan?

Do pavements count? As it happens, more than 75% of previous Tiguans sold in the UK were bought with 4Motion all-wheel drive (the sector average is 50%), and since its inception you’ve been able to get Tiguans with off-road bumpers front and rear, which dramatically increase the approach and departure angles. This £350 Outdoor pack is the new version of that.

So while it’s unlikely many owners intend to start chasing Defenders across the landscape, thus equipped, the new Tiguan can cope with a good bit of the rough stuff. All new 4Motion Tiguans get 200mm of ground clearance (officially qualifying it as an SUV and not a crossover according to some arcane European standard, apparently), while the increased torsional rigidity of the MQB structure also helps.

New for 2016 is the ‘4Motion Active Control’ – a circular mode selection device very much like a simplified version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response, which sets up all the electronic assistance systems as your adventure requires.

There are also some specific electronic information displays, but more useful still is the optional Area View camera system, which allows you to see precisely how close you are to putting a wheel over the edge of that ravine. Or parking space, as it might more probably be. The funky external 3D views are a great party piece, too.

Ok, fine. What about petrol engines – anyone buy a Tiguan with one of those?

Only about 5% of previous customers, something we can’t see this particular engine starting to change. Remarkably, Volkswagen has managed to make the 2.0-litre TSI sound more like a diesel than the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI Bluemotion, while the 187bhp variant of that derv-churning four-pot is blessed with considerably more torque as well as more power. So if you want a punchy semi-premium Chelsea chariot, it might be worth waiting for that to open for ordering

Engine aside, what’s the new Tiguan like to drive?

We’d avoid the optional 20-inch wheels. They’re a strangely massive choice for an off-road model, and combined with all-terrain tyres they do rather dart around on anything but the smoothest surfaces. 18s are fine, by comparison. Which is kind of bonkers, when you think about it.

The steering is nicely progressive with no nasty surprises, and very much reminiscent in feel of a Golf or Passat – well weighted, precise but hardly a joy for your fingertips. Surprise, surprise. We didn’t get to try any variant of new Tiguan on the standard suspension, but VW has upped its game when it comes to the adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control system, which now has much greater variance between settings.

Put it in Sport and it feels like someone’s accidentally fitted the dampers from a GTI. This might make sense if anything about the handling really made you feel like you wanted to throw it through corners. But it doesn’t. So sit back, relax and set it to Normal or the now quite floaty Comfort instead. VW’s DSG dual-clutch transmission is starting to feel a touch abrupt in comparison to some smoother rival units, but is keenly responsive in this application.

Anything to report about the inside?

There’s been an air vent cull – which means just the normal number for Tiguan 2. You can optionally add the all-digital instrument display from the Passat (and various Audis), offering six different viewing modes once you figure out the steering wheel button combination to access them.

And some of the buttons surrounding the infotainment system now have multi-press functionality, accessing additional menu levels; in this way we were amused to discover that the Tiguan now comes with a lap timer. Because you never know.

VW has raised the seating position to give you a more commanding view. The new Tiguan certainly isn’t short of space inside, either – for passengers and luggage, with both the boot and rear legroom being better than before. Quality is generally solid, but there are some unexpectedly cheaper-feeling plastics in places.

Verdict

Pulse quickened? No. But perhaps that’s the point. The new Tiguan improves the driving experience and the user experience without courting any kind of controversy – nailing the Volkswagen brand brief to a tee.

It’s pricey, though, and this is a fiercely fought sector, so we certainly wouldn’t treat this as the default choice when cars like the Kadjar, Kuga and CX-5 are so strong.

Specs

Price when new: £32,465
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1984cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 177bhp @ 3940-6000rpm, 236lb ft @ 1500-3940rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 7.7sec 0-62mph, 129mph, 38.2mpg, 170g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1645kg / steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4486/1839/1632

Rivals

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  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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