Ticking all the right boxes
Text by Derryn Wong, Today.
Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are now mainstream. The high-riding cars, which are also known as crossovers, are beginning to outsell sedans in some overseas markets. It's getting close in Singapore too: In January 2016, 37.7 per cent of cars sold here were sedans, while 34.2 per cent were SUVs.
Volkswagen's Tiguan SUV was launched in 2009, and it's been a success, selling 2.8 million units worldwide. The downside is, it's been around for nine years, which, in car years, is equivalent to about one-and-half lifetimes. In the ensuing time, the crossover field has exploded with rivals: Existing ones have launched new models, like the X1 and RAV4, while new competition includes a plethora of options like Q3s, Qashqais, Kadjars and Budgerigars
Okay the last example is fictional, but a cryptic name seems to be something of a crossover requirement. Tiguan itself is a portmanteau of "tiger" and "iguana". Fitting, since the car has always been, and still is, in a class of its own almost: It's less expensive but larger than luxury compact SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1, but the converse is true when comparing the Tiguan to similar-sized cars like the Hyundai Tucson or Toyota RAV4.
Like Tigger from A A Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, Volkswagen's Tiguan is a unique creature. You could see it as the best of both worlds or a terrible genetic experiment, but luckily the Tiguan is much more Disney than Dr Moreau.
Bigger, lighter, better
To begin with, it has a strong evolutionary basis: VW's latest MQB platform (seen in the impressive Golf Mk7 and Passat), which means less weight, better efficiency and a lot of technology.
We've seen this before in the other MQB-based models, but it's still impressive: The Tiguan's 60mm longer than before with a huge 77mm boost to wheelbase that spells a lot more room for occupants. At the same time, it sheds 53kg, thanks to better construction methods and use of material.
The Tiguan has never been the sort of car that draws the eye. The new design, very much on VW brand lines, relies on clean, almost Bauhaus simplicity. The car's lower and wider, which makes it look sleeker. Height-addicted crossover fans needn't worry, since the seating position is still lofty enough to peer over sedans.
Powering the Tiguan is a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 180bhp - there's also a 220bhp version - and as expected, there's little to fault: Power is seamless, torque generous and overall refinement is excellent. A more modest 1.4-litre 125bhp Cat A COE-friendly is likely to be the main choice for most when the car arrives in Singapore late this year.
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