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2016 VW Tiguan – the 56 MPG soccer mom surfer

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

You cannot keep a good man (or women) down so the saying goes and Volkswagen has certainly been knocked hard after its emission scandal.  To borrow famously from Her Majesty the Queen, it has undoubtedly been Volkswagen’s annus horribilis.  Nevertheless Volkswagen being rather good at what they do and being the second biggest car company in the world after all, have decided to fight back with a raft of new products.

This second generation Tiguan (pronounced Tig-wan) forms part of this new product offensive and follows the original Tiguan which became quite the success story. Having been launched back in 2008 in the UK it went on to sell 100,00 units and established itself as the third best-selling car in the company’s line-up.  Since this time the compact SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) has become the fastest growing automotive segment in the business and to the manufacturers this only means one thing: ker-ching.  So to get the till ringing again and to keep pace with their competitors, Volkswagen have launched this all-new model under the slogan: Cool. Calm. Connected. See the video below for our overview and test drive of the car.

On launch there are seven engines available, four diesel and three petrol. You can have a manual gearbox or dual clutch automatic gearbox (DSG) with either front or four-wheel drive, known as 4Motion in Volkswagen speak.  In the UK, ninety percent will be diesel sales of which the volume seller is expected to be the 150 PS 2.0-litre diesel engine. We tried this version in both manual and automatic form. Headline figures are: 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds, an average of 56 miles per gallon and CO2 emissions as low as 130 g/km for the manual front wheel drive version. If you select the 4Motion option it adds a little more weight to the car which trims the economy and efficiency figures to 53 miles per gallon and 140 g/km respectively.


Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

The previous generation Tiguan was smart if a little soft-looking, it could certainly never be marketed under the term ‘Cool’ that is for sure. This new model ramps up the aggression by losing the curves of the previous car and replacing them with bodywork creases so sharp that they look like they could slice and dice for a living. The stance of the car has changed too with the roof sitting 33 mm lower than the previous car and the length has increased by 60 mm. This makes the car appear wider, more planted and less top heavy on the road.

From the front there is Volkswagen’s new corporate look with a chrome grille and snazzy headlights that run the length of the car adding to the impression of width.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

In profile there are hints of BMW’s X5 especially in R-Line trim which majors on sporting aesthetics with big wheels and deep side sills.

Around at the rear the bodywork creases continue to highlight the crisp detail and solid build that motivates many to buy German. Smart rear lights complete the look and give an attractive night time signature.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

However, this handsome design is not just style without substance, the bodywork incorporates aerodynamic trickery to help the car flow through the air better, or to sound more scientific, this new Tiguan’s drag coefficient (Cd) has been reduced by 13%.  The outcome of this science is less fuel usage and emissions across the range.


Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

Climb on-board and it is familiar Volkswagen: high quality if a little lacking in design inspiration. Anyone familiar with the latest Volkswagen Golf will feel right at home here. Where it differs from the Golf is in the immediate feeling of spaciousness. You also sit higher than in a Golf too, with a comfortable driving position which offers a great view of the road ahead.  This new Tiguan also offers the most space of its Compact SUV class with masses of headroom and legroom whether you are in the front or the rear. The airy ambience can be increased further by specifying the optional panoramic glass roof (87 cm x 136 cm) which floods the interior with light and provides a welcome uplift from the grey plastics in this test model.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

Delivering on the ‘Connected’ part of the marketing slogan, every model in the range aside from the base ‘S’ comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the front dashboard. This incorporates the satellite navigation as well as entertainment functions. Yet if you specify the snappily named ‘Car-Net App-Connect’ option, you can sync your Android or Apple phone with the car, which allows the display and operation of certain phone apps through the central touchscreen. The key is that it is simple to use and is very responsive unlike other touchscreens we have tried.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick JohnsonIf you want to take it a stage further, you can specify Volkswagen’s Media Control which allows you to connect a tablet to the in-car WiFi which in turn hands control of all of the car entertainment functions to the lucky individual who has their hands on this effective remote. If you still manage to enjoy a smooth peaceful journey after this delegation, then your diplomatic skills would be very much appreciated at the UN!

In the back there are some handy fold down trays just like you get in an airline seat, but this ‘car-line’ is unfortunately at the budget end of the market because they have a terrible cheap feeling to them.  It is the only detail that grates in what otherwise is a high quality cabin. Elsewhere in the rear, the seats can slide forwards or backwards to aid either load space or leg room which is an incredibly convenient feature.  Talking of convenience, the Tiguan majors on practicality which is why the boot is a whopping 615 litres (with the rear seats pushed forward) and this space can be increased further still to 1,655 litres of by dropping the rear seats.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson


First up was the manual 150 PS 2.0 diesel front wheel drive and first impressions were that the engine is a touch agricultural on start-up, but on the move any excess noise fades into the distance so as not to trouble your other impression which is one of supreme refinement. The new Tiguan is as quiet as a church hall and as comfortable as the bed you did not want to leave this morning.  Other stand out features are the precise steering which allows you to place the car on the road accurately and brakes that allow you to bring the car to a stop smoothly.

A performance figure of 0-60 mph of 9.8 seconds is certainly not going to set the world alight but as is often the case with these measurements they give a misleading impression out in the real world. In reality the engine makes light work of the Tiguan’s 1.6 tonne weight and provides a sizeable dollop of wallop between 2,000 rpm and 3,500 rpm to provide real thrust. The manual gearbox although a little notchy is easy to use and in conjunction with the light clutch you can bring this Tiguan up to a brisk pace with ease.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

Next it was the turn of the automatic (DSG) R-Line Tiguan which featured the same diesel engine.  Set off in this version and it is quickly obvious that this is the dream-team setup. The gearbox with its twin clutches is smooth shifting when left to its own devices but ultra-responsive when you want manual control via the steering wheel paddles. This being the R-Line model with the 4Motion system it felt a little more sure-footed in the torrential rains we experienced during our test and a little keener to push into the corners but any difference is subtle.

Economy wise we managed 40 miles per gallon in mixed driving against a claimed average of 50 miles per gallon for the 4Motion DSG model.  A longer journey would have probably got us closer to the published figures in fairness as this engine is tuned to deliver maximum efficiency wherever possible.

For those wanting to explore the full 4Motion ability, you can tune your Tiguan according to the prevailing road conditions by selecting one of the four driving modes: ‘Onroad’, ‘Snow’, ‘Offroad’ and finally ‘Offroad Individual’. We unfortunately did not get the chance to put the car through any off road paces, but we are assured that the Tiguan can hold its own off the beaten track.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

Volkswagen have thankfully resisted the urge to chase the sporty-SUV market and have engineered the Tiguan to major on what most buyers appreciate: A smooth comfortable ride with real world performance. It may not encourage you to drive it hard but it does encourage a relaxed ambience, delivering brilliantly on the ‘Calm’ element of Volkswagen’s marketing slogan.

Rise of the Machines

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

Volkswagen have invested a lot in the technology for this new Tiguan. One stand-out feature is the Active Info Display, which, wait for it, is called a flexible Human-Machine Interface (HMI). Despite sounding like something more akin to a Terminator film, it allows the dashboard to be a full length electronic display which can be customised to your preferred driving mode. If you are following the satellite navigation, the instructions will be placed right in front of you as the driver. When in off-road mode it re-configures to display a compass and steering angle monitor.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson

There is also the option of a Head-Up Display which displays key information for the driver. Tell your children that this was developed originally for fighter pilots and in conjunction with mentioning that your new car features a Human-Machine Interface and undoubtedly the kids will be thinking “Hello Mummy/Daddy cool”.

Usefully for those who wish to tow a trailer or caravan, the new Tiguan can pull with ease up to 2.5 tons (in 4Motion spec) and can critically be specified with ‘Trailer Assist’. This provides an optical display which provides a visual display of actual and possible steering angles. Reverse steering is automatic too with direction being controlled via the mirror adjustment switch, which you use like a joystick. A smug face while operating is optional.

Volkswagen Tiguan review by Nick Johnson


The Volkswagen Tiguan makes good on its slogan, offering a Calm drive and allowing its occupants all manner of ways in which to get Connected. The Cool claim is subjective but this new model looks the part and has many desirable features and gizmos which make it stand out from the rest of the segment.

Model tested: Volkswagen Tiguan Match Edition manual @ £25,850 (0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds, average of 56 miles per gallon, 130 g/km of CO2 emissions and annual road tax of £0) and Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 4Motion DSG (0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds, average of 50 miles per gallon, 150 g/km of CO2 emissions and annual road tax of £145).

Available: Now.

Priced from: £23,555 for entry level ‘S’ model

Nick Johnson
Motoring Writer, Road Test Reviewer & Car Consultant

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