► We test the new VW Tiguan
► It’s Volkswagen’s best SUV
► Rivals include the Qashqai
The new VW Tiguan enters the busiest and arguably most competitive portion of the market; crossovers continue to sell like crazy and car buyers’ appetite for SUVs shows little sign of abating.
Which explains why you can expect a slew of Volkswagen sports utility vehicles and 4x4s in the coming months. A baby Polo-based SUV is in the works, the Tiguan arrives in UK dealerships in May 2016 and the big granddaddy Touareg will be replaced in due course.
No wonder analysts forecast that one in five cars sold in Europe will be crossovers by the decade’s end...
What’s new about the 2016 VW Tiguan?
This is a properly all-new product, featuring the latest MQB architecture, which replaces the Mk1 Tiguan – launched in 2009. It is, unsurprisingly, therefore related closely to the new Seat Ateca and Skoda’s own variant, potentially badged the rather amusing Kodiaq.
This brings many benefits. For starters, there’s a raft of the latest technology available - much of it familiar from the rent-a-kit VW stable. So you’ll enjoy niceties such as cable-free mobile phone charging, radar cruise control, waggle-foot-to-open automatic tailgates and other life-easing gadgetry.
But it also brings a degree of flexibility. Wolfsburg’s engineers can stretch the platform this way and that; hence you can expect a slightly longer, seven-seat version of the Tiguan in due course.
Does it have what it takes to pulp the best-selling Nissan Qashqai et al?
We’ve just driven the new 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan, focusing on the UK's likely best-seller, the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The styling is fresher, crisper than the Mk1 and it's accompanied by a whole load of extra space. This car is 60mm longer and rides on a wheelbase stretched by 77mm - no wonder there’s so much room for families and their luggage (the boot swells to 520 litres, or 615 with the rear bench slid forward).
Say what you like about the Dieselgate scandal, but there’s no denying Volkswagen's advantage in interior quality remains intact. This is a surprisingly luxurious cabin and we remain enthralled by the intelligent touchscreen infotainment. There are a few harder plastics lower down the dashboard, granted, but it all feels well assembled and the switchgear operates with a satisfyingly well-damped action.
The new Tiguan feels surefooted and agile, but not especially sporty. Which is entirely in keeping with its purpose in life; a blindfolded Golf driver would be hard-pushed to spot the difference, albeit noticing a more panoramic, elevated view out when they undid the mask.
It’s especially comfortable when fitted with the adaptive suspension offered by higher-spec models, bringing a soft plump to proceedings. The Tiguan's steering is light and relaxed. This is a hushed, refined place to sit, with few thrills.
We didn’t take the Tig off-road (who will?), but with 200mm of ground clearance on 4Motion-equipped models (10mm more than FWD cars), we did broach some surprisingly steep inclines with ease. VW forecasts that a surprising 75% of buyers will equip their cars with awd.
Also noteworthy is the impressive 2.5-tonne towing capacity. Handy if you like riding or sailing or lugging the kitchen sink wherever you go...
The previous Tiguan has enjoyed an unusual sales trajectory, selling more in its last year on sale - 2015 - than at any other point in its life. This probably reflects the public's insatiable appetite for crossovers, more than any inherent competitive advantage.
But the new model builds on the Mk1’s strengths. It’s predictably polished, able and oh-so sensible for family duties. Just watch out for prices expected to be on the toppy end of the scale - the Tiguan’s expected to kick off from £22,500 where many rivals muster an entry point carrying a teen price tag.