March 29, 2016 @ 07:18 AM

Review: Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI - Since its a VW, it should drive with panache, right?

Having a nicely balanced car perhaps a touch too boring, perhaps it’s all down to perspective

It had been a terrific month of SUVs for me. Starting with the impossibly difficult to park, five-metre colossus of the Infiniti QX 80 before performing ‘Italian Job’ type runs to the office in the Swedish wild-child, the XC60 T6 featured in the preceding pages. Both cars remarkably competent at distorting your perspective of having a nicely balanced car – enter the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI. I rejoice, the Zen-art of having just enough of everything has been restored.

But perhaps the balance can be a touch too boring? Not the least bit.
Well, maybe the humdrum white paint job of the Tiguan’s sheet metal is. Otherwise the familiar family-faced front quarters of the facelifted Tiguan is pleasantly handsome. This car is fitted with the tech-pack which adds LED daytime running lights to set up for a pleasant greeting. The rest of the Tiguan’s low-slung waistline creates a fine silhouette along the flanks leading up to the rear haunches. It’s more car-like than SUV in my opinion and the design has aged a bit since the lavish promotional gambits which featured Seal and supermodel wife, Heidi Klum of days past. But it’s no deal breaker if you ask me.
 
The power plant’s numbers aren’t going to win a game of Top Trumps anytime soon but forking out RM70.00 for road tax yet still having 158bhp to play with is a big win, don’t you think? The official numbers read 158bhp at 5300rpm and a potent 240Nm of torque from just 1500rpm makes good for a 9.3 second 100kph dash all the way to a 193kph max velocity. 
The direct-injected, super- and turbocharged four-pot is tacked to VW’s hallowed twin-clutch gearbox. While there’s still too much free play from the gearbox from a standing start, there’s no faulting the rapid gearshifts once you’re on the go. It’s a rather pleasant performer and the keyword here again is balance – the zesty engine provides a meaty punch right from the get-go and progress is very linear all the way to the upper reaches of the speedometer, overtaking is a breeze and it’s amazing how fast the rev needles dives downwards or upwards when the next ratio is selected. It’s a very nice combo and rarely didn’t I find myself wanting more power or progress.
 
Another surprising feature of the Tiguan is its handling. MacPherson struts in the front compliments a Multi-link setup in the rear to endow the small-SUV with rather sporty driving demeanour. At all times, I felt connected and in full knowledge of what the tyres were doing underneath me. Chuck the Tiguan into a corner and the chassis remains planted, with centrifugal forces nicely quelled by the talented suspension and the brakes offer very good modulation. It may not be a B-road basher but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more involving drive than in the Tiguan.
On the inside, its VW business as usual with blacker-than-black dash and door panels, but it works. The switchgear is ergonomically laid out (I especially like the high-mounted power window controls), and the rather unique grey centre console grafted with the Multimedia console adds a touch functional style. I would appreciate less plasticky panels on the lower regions of the dashboard but otherwise, the whole lot is a pleasant place to be in.
 
There a few points for improvement, though. The Bluemotion bag of tricks adds start/stop function in the Tiguan, and while I appreciate that it pleasantly shuts off the engine only once the car has been standing still for a while, like at a stoplight, and not nervously dying as soon as you come to a halt just before you make a right at a junction, an audible clicking sound just prior to restart is annoying after a while. And perhaps slightly more pernicious is that despite its humble-sized heart – it has a drinking problem. Granted, I drove it in the name of science and cheap entertainment, but it returned a rather thirsty 11.2l/100km with the entire tank not taking me much further than 480km. 
Yet, towards the end of my glorious month of SUV drives, I was asked which of the three I would pick if money wasn’t a factor, and rightfully so, any comparison of the Tiguan against the fury of the XC60 and the presence of the QX80 is an exercise in futility, but it’s the Tiguan I would take home – sometimes balance is a good thing. Perhaps not in white, though. 

ARVIND KUMAR

SPEC
Price RM179,608 OTR without insurance
Engine 1390cc 16v V8, 158bhp @5300rpm, 240Nm @ 1500rpm, 
Transmission 6-speed double-clutch gearbox, Front-wheel drive
Performance 9.3sec 0-100kph, 193kph, 7.1l/100km (combined) 164g/km CO2
Weight 1689kg
On sale Now

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