Ahead of its global launch, Volkswagen showcased the new Tiguan in India at the Auto Expo 2016, giving us clear indications that the car is expected to be launched here soon. The first Volkswagen SUV based on the MQB platform holds a lot of promise and creates an opportunity in the price segment where the premium sedans are failing. Here is our first impression of the new second-generation Tiguan after a short drive in Berlin.
The Tiguan has very typical Volkswagen styling. The headlamps, the bonnet, creases on the side and most of the other elements are all angular – these with the features like LED headlamps, 18-inch wheels and subtle use of chrome give it a very sophisticated look.
This the second generation of the Tiguan, now based on the new MQB platform. It carries forward the basic design of the previous car but is both longer and wider than before. To put in perspective with the competition, with the length of 4486mm, it is smaller than the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Honda CR-V, yet larger than the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.
Personally, I like the straightforward face of the Tiguan. Also, importantly, with its designs and features, it clearly gives out an impression that it is a premium SUV and not to be confused with the five-seater SUVs that are on sale in the Indian market.
It is a large cabin – both the passengers at the front and rear have ample space both in terms of head room and knee room. However, the person sitting in the middle at the back is bound to be uncomfortable with the transmission tunnel.
Overall, the cabin feels upmarket; there is premium quality material used in most places, though some hard bits can be found in the rear of the SUV. There is also plenty of space in the boot – 615litres is marginally less than that of the Superb and it can be further extended to 1655litres by not just folding the middle row, but also tumbling the front passenger seat.
Volkswagen has loaded this car with numerous features. It gets electrically assisted boot closing, three zone AC, 14-way adjustable front power seats and a detailed infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink ad Android Auto, apart from the ability of turning the cabin into a Wi-Fi hotspot. It also gets the virtual cockpit interface that we have seen in the Audi TT – the navigation is displayed in the digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, making it much easier for the driver to concentrate on the road. Another feature that deserves a special mention is the head-up display unit – there is small screen at the other end of the dashboard that not only gives out the speed but other vital instructions like the arrows showing directions from SAT-NAV and speed limit of the road you are driving on.
Overall, I like the cabin of the new Tiguan; the dashboard layout is very user-friendly, plus the black upholstery makes the cabin look sporty. The NVH with the diesel engine could have been little better, but that said, there is hardly anything else that the interior lacks in terms of features, ergonomics and even space.
In Berlin, I drove the 2.0-litre diesel putting out 147bhp and mated to the seven-speed DSG gearbox. There is a full range of petrol and diesel engine options on sale in Europe, but these specs are expected to be offered in India at the time of the launch.
The car has a very practical set up, with a very nice torque spread and short gearing for the initial four ratios. It is decently quick for everyday use, managing to reach 100kmph and above at a brisk pace. Plus, it drives like a car; there is minimal body roll and pushing through corners at high speeds is easy. However, the steering lacks feedback but it is still precise and does weigh up with speed.
The ride quality of the SUV set up for the European roads with these 18-inch tyres was extremely harsh. Volkswagen will certainly use a softer suspension set up for the Tiguan in India. The ground clearance at 200mm will be sufficient to go over all the obstacles on the Indian roads. This drivetrain option also has 4MOTION AWD as standard – it gives the Tiguan some amount of credibility to tackle dirt roads and a little bit of off roading, but this is still a softroader, with the system mainly helping in getting out of tricky situations.
Under normal circumstances, it is mainly a front-wheel drive, with power going to the back only when the SUV loses traction. There is also a rotary dial next to the gear lever to select Snow, Off road and individual mode.
The Volkswagen Tiguan will be a very interesting option for people looking at comfortable and feature-rich SUVs as an option for the premium sedans and entry-level luxury hatchbacks. The Tiguan should be ideally positioned below the BMW X1 and above the Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda CR-V, with a price tag of around Rs 27 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.
However, there is still some time for the launch of this SUV – as per the Volkswagen timeline, it will reach the showrooms early next year – after the Ameo, Polo GTI and Passat launches this year.