When I was told that I had to go for an off-road experience with Volkswagen's Tiguan, I was a bit sceptical. Although I agreed to attend this event with very low expectations, once I was in the driver’s seat of this car, I was astonished. What I did not see coming was this — one wheel of the Tiguan in the air and the remaining three wheels seamlessly moving the car forward.
We were invited to experience the Volkswagen Tiguan's off-roading capabilities. This SUV may not look like an off-roader, but the electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system and decent ground clearance make it capable of overcoming many obstacles. Not to mention, its 2.0-litre TSI engine produces good power, making it a practical off-roader.
We assessed this Volkswagen SUV on various parameters during a five-minute test drive on a track designed for the Tiguan Experience event at BKC, Mumbai. This included an articulation test, water wading test, and hill ascent and descent control test. We also experienced the car on a patch specifically designed to resemble potholed roads, to see how it does in real-world environments.
To give you some context, the Tiguan is equipped with four drive modes – On-road, Snow, Off-road, and Custom Off-road. Due to the limited time and the demands of the testing track, all our obstacles were experienced using only the Off-road mode. With appropriate acceleration and braking time, Tiguan could easily overcome all the off-roading challenges laid out before us. And, in fact, that's all we had to contribute to, as the electronics did the rest of the job for us.
So did Tiguan win us over?
In the depth test, its performance was not exactly as a proper off-roader. However, with some effort and thanks to its good ground clearance of 200mm and the all-wheel drive system, it was able to pass this milestone.
Talking about the water wading test, this soft-roader did a commendable job. But I particularly liked Tiguan's performance in the articulation test, which was the real test of its all-wheel-drive system. It performed quite well, with one wheel completely in the air, and the drivetrain managed to intelligently distribute the torque to gain traction despite the slippery surface. This is impressive considering the fact that it doesn't have any hardcore hardware for off-roading. This performance could be also attributed to its quick steering response which makes it easy to negotiate road bumps during daily city commutes.
Built on a monocoque platform, the Tiguan doesn't come with locking differentials, long-travel suspension, or even a low-range gearbox. Despite this, it is a capable car with decent ground clearance (although not as high as an off-roader) and modern electronics that enable soft off-roading.
As I said in the beginning, this car is not equipped with the hardware or the technologies that are specifically meant for off-roading. In that respect, it performed excellently across the track. After this experience, I may not take the Tiguan on proper muddy or hilly roads, but it can definitely become a good companion for my hill-station vacation.