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Volkswagen Tiguan – Eye of the Tiguan

Photos and text by: Jackson Toh, 9tro

Could VW's all-new medium crossover be the brand's second wind?

It would seem like crossovers are here to stay; in the past few months, I have already driven six different models, all from different manufacturers, each one of hoping to carve out a bigger piece of the lucrative pie. Of course there were exceptions to the formula that really stood out, like the gargantuan Infiniti QX80 or the convertible Range Rover Evoque.

Of course, the two I mentioned are dedicated to rather niche audiences, as the majority of crossovers are aimed squarely at the mass market, offering up oodles of practicality and a raised ride height for a commanding view. The numbers speak for themselves as thousands of households here in Singapore and dare I say South East Asia that were fed on a diet of sedans have made an exodus towards crossover ownership.

 

Now, owning one here in the tropics makes perfect sense especially with the high frequency of flash floods we have been experiencing all year round. Where sedans and hatchbacks instantly become submersibles, a raised platform, in the form of a crossover should not have any problems transversing knee-high flooded asphalt - a scenario I found myself in a couple of years ago back in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, where on a driving holiday.

Back then, Volkswagen loaned me a first generation 2.0-litre Tiguan for the 500km road trip, and due to the monsoon season, KL's roads became massive canals and river networks. Thankfully, the Tiguan with its raised ride had no problems at all getting us safely to our destination, which of course brings me to today's test-drive - the second generation 2.0-litre Tiguan R-Line.

If you remember, it was only just last year where the crossover was unveiled to the world at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show, however seeing it on Singapore soil is a vastly different story altogether. The first thing that would probably strike you is its size, the Tiguan has grown in all directions, nearly mirroring the dimensions of the previous Touareg actually.

The Tiguan also ushers in a new styling language for the brand's crossover range, while the first generation still looked like a Golf on stilts, the new car is drastically boxier, more muscular and packs a tonne of presence. Together with its increased exterior size, the interior has also grown considerably.

Boot space has swelled to an overwhelming 520-litres, up from the previous 395-litre. The rear bench will even slide out to increase luggage space to 615-litres and if u flip the seats up, it expands to a staggering 1,655-litres. Speaking of the back seats, they are now even bigger than ever, seating three full-sized adults with ease. Mounted to the back of the front seats are flip-up tables similar to the ones you get in a plane. Rear passengers also get climate control as well.

Moving to the front, cockpit ambience has been bumped up several notches as well. First up, the huge digital instrument cluster that displays just about everything is vibrant and crisp and if that was not enough, there is an equally large touch-screen infotainment display featuring Apple/Android/Bluetooth connectivity that occupies the centre console.

For the 2.0-litre R-Line, you will get VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system as standard with a rotary selector located just aft of the gear lever, allowing the driver to setup the Tiguan to the owner's preferences.

Our test-drive unit being the range-topper gets just about everything on the options list like LED tail-lights, city emergency braking with forward collision warning, high-speed autonomous braking, lane-keep assistance, front and rear sensors, multi-mode rear-view camera, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, electric front seats, seven airbags all round and of course keyless entry plus start/stop technology.

What sets the R-Line apart from the standard 1.4-litre Highline aside from the obvious differences in engine and drivetrain is the addition of the eye-popping R-line bodykit, R-Line interior trim, R-Line 18-inch wheels, adaptive chassis control and progressive steering.

For the buyer who wants a dynamically capable and yet still extremely comfortable Tiguan, the 2.0-litre R-Line is the one to go for. Even with its low-profile wheels, the adaptive dampers effectively soak up just about any road irregularity leaving the occupants cocooned in almost absolute serenity. The steering is another highlight, precise and direct with a progressive system that gives more response with minimal input, its linear and weighs up nicely in the various modes.

Going under the hood, the Tiguan comes equipped with the familiar turbocharged 2.0-litre in-line four that is mated to an all-new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with steering mounted paddle shifters. The mill pumps a respectable 217 horses and 350Nm of torque to all four wheels for a century sprint of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 220km/h.

What's even more amazing is how it sips fuel from its 60-litre fuel tank, doing an average of 12.5km/l from a vehicle that weighs over 1,800kg is very impressive. Acceleration is brisk with excellent response from way down in the rev range.

Unfortunately, the DSG does lag a little at lower speeds - but its only a split second, gearshifts are lightning quick and when Sport mode is selected, throttle response is even speedier. That said, the new Tiguan is a huge improvement over its predecessor, and for that matter, better than almost anything in its segment at the moment.

Be it in terms of practicality, performance, comfort, pricing or even styling, nothing else comes even close, if I needed a mid-sized crossover, the R-Line Tiguan would be it.

This article was first published on 9tro.

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