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Affordable SUV ride

Volkswagen Autohaus Fiji
Saturday, February 10, 2018

The smallest Volkswagen SUV, the Tiguan competes with the Ford Escapes and Honda CR-Vs that scurry around suburbia in huge numbers. The Tiguan is comparatively rare, and serves as the only affordable European SUV in the segment.


When the first Volkswagen Tiguan arrived back in 2008 as a 2009 model, it faced fierce competition. But it had an edge, because it was good to drive. With a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from the GTI, tidy dimensions, and a nice firm chassis, it had performance and reflexes that distinguished it from the dowdy RAV4s and CR-Vs of the day.

The turbocharged Subaru Forester XT was a lively choice, but the Tiguan was more driver-focused, and less off-road oriented. And it had a robust German feel. It was also one of the first small SUVs to offer stability control — a feature that was often missing from the competition. And that name, Tiguan?

It's a combination of tiger and iguana, chosen from a naming contest in a German car magazine.

The Tiguan's relatively small cargo area, aggressive pricing and extra-firm ride continued right up to 2016, with the end of the first-generation model. And although this Tiguan still appealed to people who wanted a Euro-firm SUV with very compact dimensions, it turns out there weren't many of those folks, and while VW sells roughly 35,000 Tiguans in a good year, Honda will sell 350,000 CR-Vs. Something had to change.

The latest generation

The first Tiguan was sized for European city streets, where parking is tight, and nimbleness is a virtue. But it didn't quite live up to American expectations for capacity and comfort. Enter the second-generation Tiguan.

The crossover has a much longer wheelbase, and larger overall dimensions. Just as importantly, the new Tiguan is based on VW's modern MQB platform, which underpins the latest Golf. The Tiguan will also be built alongside the Golf in VW's Puebla Mexico assembly plant. Although a short-wheelbase Tiguan will be offered in other markets, we only get the long-wheelbase version, and at first there will only be one engine — a 180-hp 2.0-liter turbo mated to an eight-speed automatic and available four-mode all-wheel-drive system.

The Tiguan's relationship to the Golf is important, seeing that we named the Golf Car Of The Year in 2015. And after driving a new Tiguan in Sweden we said the SUV brought the same understated elegance and premium construction to the compact crossover. In fact, we called it a small Audi Q7.

Why you'd consider one

Because you like the high-quality feel of VW products, and you don't want the same small SUV that everyone else has. And although a Golf SportWagen or Alltrack might fill the bill, you want the Tiguan's taller stance, torquier engine, and bigger back seat.

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