Almost three years after the Touareg, its first SUV in India, made an exit, Volkswagen India has now brought to the market the much-anticipated Tiguan SUV. Although VW India has positioned the Tiguan alongside products from the more luxurious German brands such as the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, in reality the SUV will take on the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and the Isuzu MU-X, primarily due to its price positioning.
We were recently invited by the company to experience the vehicle in and around Bangalore. We drove the Highline trim, the upper variant of the two on offer. Does it have the wherewithal to take on the already established players in the segment? We find out.
The Tiguan has been a successful and popular SUV from the Volkswagen stable, ever since its first introduction in the market in 2007. Over the years, VW has sold over 3.5 mn units internationally. The new generation Tiguan though is a complete new product. The first generation Tiguan was based on the famed PQ35 platform, or the ‘A’ platform, that the company used for compact and mid-size cars of the VW Group.
The new Tiguan, however, is based on the MQB platform, which has replaced the earlier ‘A’ platform. This is, in fact, the first product from Volkswagen’s MQB platform to make its debut in the Indian market. Let’s look at what this platform is all about.
It was about five years back that the Volkswagen Group introduced the MQB platform, a strategy for shared modular construction of its transverse, front-engined, front-wheel drive (optional four-wheel drive) vehicles across its Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW brands worldwide. MQB stands for Modularer Querbaukasten in German, and when translated to English could mean “Modular Transversal Toolkit” or “Modular Transverse Matrix”. An estimated $ 60 bn was spent on the development of the platform.
Coming back to the Tiguan, it is powered by the new generation EA288 2.0 l engine, and is paired with the next-gen 7-speed DSG transmission, which is internally codenamed DQ500. It is a five-seater that is built on a monocoque chassis. In terms of size, the VW Tiguan is far closer to the Hyundai Tucson, but unlike the Korean product, the Tiguan comes with an all-wheel drive system as standard fitment. The Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour, on the other hand, are 4x4s with seven-seat options.
In a segment that is associated with big, bulky, brawny products, the Volkswagen Tiguan isn’t the aggressive, intimidating types. One look at the vehicle and you see the signature Volkswagen design cues all around, the face for instance, resembles the new-gen Passat and some other products from the company. The company, in fact, won the German Design Award 2017 for the Tiguan. We feel the Tiguan has been designed with subtlety, albeit the bodywork appears contemporary and sharp that gives the vehicle a certain aura of sophistication.
At the front, the headlight assembly features LED daytime running lights as well as LED turn indicators. The radiator grille and the air dam get the chrome treatment, and it gels well with the design theme of the Tiguan. On the sides, there are clear, bold straight lines that neatly merge into the LED tail lamps of the Tiguan. The large wheel arches with short overhangs make it visually appealing with both the 18-inch alloy wheels (on the Highline trim) and the 17-inch wheels on the Comfortline. Dimension-wise, compared to the previous-generation Tiguan, the second-generation model is 60 mm longer, 30 mm wider and the wheelbase too is up by 77 mm.
What VW has got spot on though is the cabin. Those familiar with Volkswagen cars will find themselves at home inside the Tiguan. There’s enough space for five big adults, with adequate knee, shoulder and head room. The rear seats are adjustable for reach and recline. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable with memory function. The 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes equipped with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink and gets a Bluetooth, cruise control, SD card slot and a CD player. Navigation, however, isn’t built-in and can be accessed via the VW App Connect.
The Highline variant also gets a panoramic sunroof, which enhances the overall cabin ambience. At night, the LED ambient lighting offered on the doors makes for a pretty sight. Overall, fit and finish inside the Tiguan is top-notch and to our mind, the designers and engineers have done a stellar job of it.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The Tiguan in India is being offered with only one engine option – a 2 l diesel turbocharged CRDi 4-cylinder unit that develops 141 hp of power @ 4,000 rpm. Torque is a healthy 340 Nm. The engine is very refined, and you won’t mind the little bit of noise that seep into the cabin when the engine is revved up. It’s not harsh by any measure.
Bulk of our drive was on the highway to Chikmagalur, about 240 km from Bangalore. It is on the highway that you truly enjoy the refinement of the Tiguan powertrain. It has enough power and the seven-speed DSG unit makes driving an absolute pleasurable experience.
The 4Motion all-wheel drive is permanently active, which constantly shifts torque between the front and rear as the situation desires. Under minimal loads, the system reverts to the front wheel drive mode. The Tiguan is equipped with four drive modes – Normal, Off-road, Off-road Individual and Snow – which one can choose by the use of a rotary control placed next to the gear lever. These modes help change steering feel, powertrain behaviour and air conditioning of the vehicle. In the Off-road Individual mode, one can also alter the drivetrain and hill hold/ descent settings.
Overall, the Tiguan offers very good ride quality, and there is no visible body roll. While we mostly drove through well-laid-out roads, some parts of the highway let us drive the vehicle through rough patches, and it handled them fairly well. The chassis is firm, and the suspension set-up seemed well sorted.
The Volkswagen Tiguan scores really well in safety, and has been awarded a five-star EuroNCAP rating. To its credit, VW India has offered the same set of safety features on both trims of the Tiguan. Six airbags, Isofix child-seat mounts, parking sensors, ABS, stability control, height-adjustable front seat belts with pre-tensioners and a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is all standard. The top of the line Highline trim also gets self-sealing tyres and a reverse parking camera.
The highlight though is the active hood that has been designed keeping pedestrian safety in mind. In the unfortunate incident of a collision with a pedestrian, there is a sensor in the front bumper that raises the rear end of the hood by three inches to minimise the injuries caused to a pedestrian.
At Rs 27.98 lakh for the Comfortline and Rs 31.38 lakh for the Highline variants, the Volkswagen Tiguan is by no means going to be an easy sell for the company. However, it is feature-packed and fuel-efficient (ARAI approved fuel efficiency is claimed to be 17.06 km/l) SUV, which is practical enough for the everyday runs in the city as well as occasional drives up the hills. Drive-wise, it feels very carlike and that we feel will interest many. We don’t expect the Tiguan to be a chartbuster, but it has all the good to create a niche segment of customers, who want finesse in their vehicles.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay