After our first stint with the model in the hands of Ian McLaren, Damian Adams took the reigns of our Volkswagen Tiguan long-termer to continue our conclusive report on the family-sized SUV.
Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Life long-term stats
Time spent: 2 of 6 months
Distance covered to date: 3 150 km
Driver: Damian Adams
Average fuel consumption: 8,7 L/100 km
We like: Potent LED matrix headlamps
We don’t like: Jerk from the DSG at low speeds
Who doesn’t enjoy a purpose-built vehicle? A Toyota FJ Cruiser on underinflated 35-inch tyres? Absolutely. A BMW M2 Competition with a limited-slip differential? Guilty. A Rolls-Royce Phantom with umbrella dryers built into the doors? Bring it on. By not pretending to be anything else, their lack of compromise only makes these cars better.
Get up to speed on the model: Living With It – Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Life introduction
So, where does the Tiguan stand after just two months in the CAR garage? For starters, it’s far more purpose-built than it looks. If you want an off-road-ready SUV; or a fast SUV or a luxury SUV – look elsewhere. Yet if you want a comfortable, refined, and well-built family SUV that feels like it cost more than it did, this mid-level Tiguan is well worth considering despite the competition having caught up.
It’s the sort of vehicle where everything works as you’d hope and you can simply get in and drive with very little effort or familiarisation needed. Automatic wipers, an electric driver’s seat with memory function and auto LED matrix lights (IQ. Lights in VW speak) make daily driving tasks that much easier. The high-beam assist has been particularly useful on dark winter mornings when load shedding is in full effect. Seeing pedestrians crossing the road in the dark is made that much simpler without dazzling oncoming traffic.
Every driving environment presents its own challenges. For me, those challenges are more often than not navigating potholes and chugging along in Cape Town’s peak-hour traffic on my 52 km commute. Here, a tall-riding SUV makes a fair bit of sense especially when fitted with 18-inch wheels shod with relatively tall 55-section (Continental SportContact 5) rubber. The multi-link rear suspension greatly aids passenger comfort, and the Tiguan’s 191 mm ground clearance allows it to smoothly traverse poorly-paved roads and speed bumps. Steering is light without being over-assisted while body roll and braking are acceptable for a vehicle of this size, too.
One bugbear, however, has been the transmission’s behaviour in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It lurches as you get off the brake making it difficult to slowly and smoothly creep forward. Despite the DSG struggling to gently get the car rolling away, in every other instance it remains one of the best ‘boxes in the business with crisp shifts.
At low speeds the Tiguan’s trademark Germanic tautness enhances the ride with an impression of being properly tied down. One wouldn’t go as far as calling it sporty, although there’s an omnipresent sense of solidity that oozes quality and challenges its driver to attack any road with confidence. It’ll never win a grand prix, but every time we get behind the wheel, you can’t help but feel that it’s won you over.
It’s been in our garage for a little while now but for the most part, has been subjected to suburban survival spending the vast majority of its time sifting through traffic and idling away at a snail’s pace. This has meant that the 1,4-litre TSI has not returned particularly impressive fuel economy. Sure, 8,7 L/100 km is acceptable for a vehicle of its size, but I’d like to see this figure closer to the 7,7 L/100 km claim.
Our photographer Peet Mocke and contributor Wilhelm Lutjeharms will be using the Tiguan on its first open-road excursion this week to Knysna. Here’s hoping that some time cruising in sixth gear along the Garden Route will allow the average consumption to come down – stay tuned!