The Tiguan has been quite a success story for Volkswagen. Since its launch in 2007, the small crossover has found more than 2.8 million homes across the world.
However, it made the same mistake that most success stories make, hung around for a bit too long, and inevitably, ended up looking jaded in the company of its modern rivals. Although a bit late, Volkswagen has finally remedied this by infusing some long-overdue freshness into the second-gen Tiguan, first shown at last year’s Frankfurt show and now available here.
As we’ve seen over the years, Volkswagen has this uncanny ability to design cars that are good-looking and elegant but still seamlessly blend into the landscape. The new Tiguan is no different, although significantly better-looking than its predecessor and not as inconspicuous.
The first thing you notice is how the CUV has grown in overall proportions. Built on the brand’s new MQB platform, the Tiguan measures 4,486mm in length, and 1,839mm in width, which makes it a good 60mm longer and 30mm wider than the first-gen model. The wheelbase has also been extended by 77mm to 2,681mm. Add to these the reduction in height, standing at 1,646mm now, and the Tiguan has a much more purposeful and dynamic stance than before. The redesigned radiator grille, the LED projection headlights, sharply creased character lines, a higher waistline and the attention-grabbing LED tail lights add to the crossover’s good looks.
The thorough revamp has been carried over to the interior as well, with the driver-oriented cockpit looking distinctly modern and unmistakably Volkswagen in layout and build quality. Most of the areas in the cabin you’d come in contact with are made of soft-touch plastics, with hard materials hidden away in lower portions. Buttons and knobs are ergonomically placed, with the new 4Motion Active Control rotary switch positioned right behind the gear shifter within easy reach of the driver. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the cabin is considerably more spacious than before, being 26mm longer overall, with 29mm more knee room for rear passengers.
And remarkably, despite the lower overall height, and the raised seat height, there’s ample headroom in the front and back. And the rear bench can be slid fore and aft by up to 180mm, leaving an impressive 615 litres of boot space behind it, which can be expanded to a generous 1,655 litres if the rear seats are folded away.
All these combine to make the Tiguan one of the most practical crossovers in its class, and I’d have had no hesitation in declaring it the best family crossover around either – but the overall sense of refinement in the cabin isn’t up to what I had expected in a thoroughly updated Volkswagen. Maybe it’s the 20in Suzuka wheels that our top-of-the-line Sport R-Line version rides on, but the Tiguan doesn’t match the level of smoothness and sophistication in ride quality that rivals like the new Ford Edge offer.
While this takes away a bit of sheen from its appeal as a family hauler, it is remarkably better to drive than most of its competitors. The optimised body structure, reduced weight and torsional rigidity of 28,000Nm/degree for the model without a panoramic roof and 25,000Nm/degree for the model with the panoramic roof, mean the Tiguan displays very good body control and confidence-inspiring dynamics. The steering is direct and responsive and feels precisely weighted in Normal mode, firming up considerably in Sport. Our tester comes powered by a 220bhp version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, mated to a seven-speed DGS transmission. Although it can sound a bit raspy on acceleration, it provides quick, effortless progress with sharp gear changes and settles down to smooth and even highway speeds.
In addition to standard features, the R-Line trim adds brushed stainless steel pedals, leather-wrapped multifunction three-spoke steering wheel with an ‘R’ logo, shift paddles, R-specific bumper and sill extension, 20in Suzuka alloys, black headliner and front scuff plates in aluminium, with ‘R-Line’ logo among others.
The 4Motion all-wheel drive system comes with Snow, Onroad, Offroad and Offroad Individual modes, which combined with a towing capacity of up to 2,500kg, lend the Tiguan some impressive off-road credentials, but given the ground clearance, it’s better to keep those escapades not too far away from civilisation.
Overall, the new Tiguan represents a substantial upgrade over the previous generation, and priced between Dh89,957 and Dh132,337 across five trims, it offers good value too, especially if you’re looking for a German crossover below Dh150K.