Skid Marks

Volkswagen Tiguan: ferocity of a tiger, agility of an iguana

The Tiguan is a real blast on the open road.

The Tiguan is a real blast on the open road.

Browsing through online sites, I found an interesting anecdote about the Volkswagen Tiguan. Its name is an amalgamation of sorts: tiger and iguana.

Whether or not this is true is one thing, but indeed if such were the case, the name describes the latest compact crossover from Wolfsburg well.

Built atop the Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB platform architecture, the transverse-engine mounted, front-wheel drive (an all-wheel drive variant is available) SUV is first and foremost, handsome.

The sharp chiseled lines exude confidence and sophistication matched with stoicism.
The clean body isn’t overdone with numerous fussy details that can make it look busy and dated quickly.

Thanks to this, I feel the second-generation Tiguan will age well and be a future real bargain.
The bold lines also accentuate its size: the slab sides actually make it look and feel imposing compared to other compact cross-overs, particularly Japanese brands.

The rather large-looking 18X7 Kingston alloy wheels with Continental Cross Contact cross-over HT tires sized 235/50R18 look chunky and fill out the wheel wells.

Under the hood you get two options: Volkswagen’s excellent 2.0 TDi common-rail direct-injection turbocharged engine which outputs 143 hp and 340 Newton meters of torque driving four wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and an even smaller, but even more impressive 1.4-liter TSI gasoline turbocharged and direct-injected petrol engine delivering 150 ps and 250 Nm of torque exclusively through the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.

The new-generation MQB platform will underpin many future Volkswagen Group platforms, particularly the upcoming Audi Q5 (slated to appear at the IAA 2017 later this year in Frankfurt) and Porsche’s next-generation Macan, though the latter won’t be out anytime soon.

Aside from the bigger, lighter and safer chassis (Euro NCAP gives this new platform a 5-Star crash rating), the all-new Tiguan is so much easier, more convenient, effortless, and ultimately, more enjoyable to drive.

The steering is light but offers very good feel and feedback thanks to its electro-mechanical speed-sensitive power steering.

No, you won’t feel the tires on the limits of adhesion as you dance through chicanes, followed by undulations on the road through off-camber turns.

This is a practical, versatile everyday car after all. But that’s not to say it’s dull and inert.

The Tiguan feels light on its feet, responsive should you slot the DSG gearbox into Sport Mode, and the brakes are powerful, if yet again a tad over-boosted as other Volkswagen Group vehicles.

The 1.4 TSI engine might sound muted, anodyne at best. But it pulls hard and catches you by surprise once it drops down a gear or two, and sees you spearing down the road at full tilt.
Whoever said downsizing was bad?

Best bit? I achieved a combined fuel consumption average of over 14 km/liter on city and highway driving (roughly 70 percent highway and 40 percent city roads) on a newish 550-plus kilometer engine.

Efficiency (as well as power) should improve as the engine frees up with more mileage under its belt.

Overall, the Tiguan is a real blast on the open road. It carves up the curves and corners with aplomb and confidence belying its cross-over architecture.

On the highway, give it enough space and the speedometer will top out at 200 kph.

For a small engine lugging this huge of a chassis/body, that’s amazing.

Rest to 100 km/h is achieved in 9.5 seconds, but the in-gear acceleration of the 6-speed DSG makes it feel even more manic.

Lest I forget, during light throttle operation (20 percent or less throttle input), the 1.4 TSOI deactivates half its displacement, ushering 2-cylinder operation.

Coming down from Tagaytay on a quiet evening, the Tiguan drove practically on two cylinders for almost 25 kilometers downhill, helping it to achieve even better fuel economy.

It’s not all fun and games, of course, with the Tiguan. It can do the normal, everyday mundane stuff.

The Tiguan has a whooping 615 liters of cargo space with the second row seats up. Drop them down and you end up with a massive 1,655 liters of cargo space.

Should you need to carry less than the maximum but more than the minimum, the 40:20:40 split-folding seats should accommodate your largest, most oblique, and unusual gear inside.

If you enjoy camping or the outdoors, the Tiguan is more than large enough to swallow most of your outdoor adventure gear.

Should you need more space, buy a roof basket or bubble canopy and latch it onto the standard-fit roof rails.

Never has a bike, kayak or an awning looked so cool, sophisticated or hip as when it’s attached to the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Or if you just need to bring along yourself plus four other passengers even on moderately long drives, fitting them inside the Tiguan is a breeze.

The added size does have one drawback though as its turning radius is quite large at 6.75 meters.

That figure is bested by some 7-seat diesel SUVs that are larger, such as Mitsubishi’s Montero Sport which can do the same turn in under 6 meters.

It’s also a very safe car. Aside from the 5-Star Crash Test Rating awarded by the Euro NCAP, the Tiguan comes with seven airbags as standard, plus ABS-EBD brakes, traction and stability control, and antiengine torque drag control plus electronic locking differential that ensure that the Tiguan is as sure-footed as the iguana it’s partly named after.

The windows also roll up and the seat belt tensionsers tighten if the safety nannies detect an imminent crash, such as when you slam on the brakes aggressively.

This feature was previously found exclusively on high-end cars such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, but are now slowly seeping down through the cracks and finding their way onto mass-market mainstream cars such as this Volkswagen.

It also comes with parking sensors to assist when backing up, but I wish a rear-facing reverse camera was available.

Lastly, the inside is the best example of slick and simple: the diamond-quilted fabric seats are very firm, yet comfortable enough on long drives.
Crucially, it feels very supportive. You sit quite upright, with a commanding view of the road ahead.

There’s good alignment with the steering column and my shoulders, so long drives, even when taken at speed, remain relaxed yet allow you to be alert, requiring minimal effort to change directions.

There’s a large 6.5-inch color touchscreen that forms the heart of the Composition Media multimedia infotainment system that has Bluetooth telephony and MP3 music connectivity plus a 3-zone automatic climate control system.

The steering wheel is a handsome 3-spoke design with controls for the multimedia system and for another multi-information display in between the speedometer and rev-counter.

The Tiguan is the first of many Volkswagen models coming out this year that should really whet the appetites of automotive enthusiasts looking for something different from the usual Japanese fare.

The Tiguan offers more sophisticated styling, rarity, plus the panache of owning German metal.
Objectively, it’s quite expensive at P2.259 million, but subjectively, it feels worth every single centavo as you begin to drive, discover and delight in how well made, well executed, and enjoyable to drive the Tiguan is.

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