Though it may compete in the hotly contested midsize SUV class, the Tiguan - courtesy of upmarket styling and a plush interior - is seen as a premium product in South Africa. The handsome, restrained good looks (improved by the stylish R-Line package) appealed to many, with over 41,000 consumers signing on the dotted line.
Recently, the Tiguan has received a subtle facelift, bringing it more in line with the rest of the VW range - including the upcoming Polo and Golf 8. Up front, the radiator grille now flows into the redesigned headlamps, with revised bumpers giving a fresher, more dynamic feel. At the rear, a few subtle changes (mostly to the tail light cluster) has given the familiar shape a cleaner look.
Inside, the interior has also received its fair share of subtle updates and improvements. The first notable improvement is the redesigned steering wheel, which features the new-style logo and redesigned satellite controls. A new gear shifter also replaces the old-style lever, which has been used extensively in VW models of the past. The overall architecture of the original dashboard remains - and that’s no bad thing. The Tiguan has always been a classy place to spend time. However, touch-sensitive climate controls give the interior a modern feel. Naturally, the VW infotainment is a joy to use and remains not only intuitive, but feature rich too.
Our test unit, a 162 kW 2.0-litre derivative with the R-Line package, looked absolutely superb. Both optional extras, the Matrix LED headlamps and 20-inch Suzuka alloy wheels just finished off everything nicely. Other options fitted to our test car included a panoramic sunroof, heads-up display and IQ Drive - a safety package which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change System, Park Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking.
Standard features include LED headlamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cruise control. Over and above that, R-Line models receive ‘Vienna’ leather seats, a digital instrument cluster and ambient lighting.
But what’s it like to drive? Well, in a nutshell, it’s excellent. Volkswagen has done a great job at melding efficiency with performance. The 162 kW motor can shift the SUV with gusto, providing a claimed 0-100 km/h time of just 6.5 seconds. The top speed is pegged at 220 km/h. Despite the rather brisk performance, the Tiguan is an accomplished cruiser. Happy to sit back and relax, the VW blurs through the gears seamlessly (the seven-speed DSG ‘box is excellent) and settles down nicely, with luxury car rivalling refinement. Another benefit of cruising in the Tiguan is the fuel economy - Volkswagen claims the 2.0 TSI can achieve a combined total of 7.8 L/100 km - during our time with the Tiguan, we noted a reasonable 8.3 L/100 km.
The interior feels plush and suitably solid. There are one or two questionable plastics, but it’s mostly plus (and dense) feeling materials. The seats are superb, offering plenty of adjustment, comfort and support. Space in the second row is decent, with only the tallest adults perhaps struggling with knee room. The boot is simply cavernous, offering up to 1 665 L of packing space with the seats folded down.
At just over R700 000, we're left very impressed with the Tiguan. It's really difficult to find fault with such an accomplished product. As polished as it is, we'd opt for the turbodiesel derivative. With 130 kW and 380 Nm of torque on tap, it's even more frugal and offers similar performance. What's more, it's cheaper too. However, there's no denying the characterful turbopetrol model isn't a cut-price premium SUV. It feels properly luxurious and premium, but doesn't wear a necessarily premium price tag. The facelift Tiguan is a sure winner.