New Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line review – a rewarding SUV

VW’s best-selling SUV is competent and refined, but it lacks its own clear personality

Volkswagen’s best-selling SUV, the chunky-looking Tiguan, not only forms the backbone of most of VW’s own off-roaders – the Tiguan All-space and the T-roc share the same platform, only with different wheelbases to the Tiguan – but the car’s underpinnings are used throughout the VW Group, too. The familiar MQB architecture that makes up the Tiguan is mildly tweaked for the SEAT Ateca as well as the Skoda Karoq and Kodiaq.

Understanding where the Tiguan fits into this family tree isn’t immediately obvious, though. SEAT’s Ateca is the sportier sibling, with its firmer chassis and more agile nature. The pair of Skodas aim to be more utilitarian and practical, and thanks to impressive space inside the Kodiaq and neat and helpful elements throughout both, they certainly achieve that.

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> Skoda Kodiaq review

The Tiguan, with its base price of £23,255, along with more exterior chrome and more detailed styling, suggests that it might be the luxury alternative. However, its interior is no more plush and it doesn’t ride with significantly more dignity than the SEAT or Skodas. The more aggressively styled R-line Tiguan, which you’d guess would challenge the Ateca for sporting rights, simply isn’t as lively as the Spanish car. Without a niche of its own to occupy then, the Tiguan struggles to find its own identity.

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But the Tiguan certainly isn’t a bad car. Its chassis feels as though it’s been subject to thorough VW-style development, its steering is crisp and direct and there’s plenty to enjoy from the driver’s seat.

Volkswagen Tiguan in detail

Performance and 0-60 time – Don’t be fooled by the SUV body – the Tiguan is capable of some impressive acceleration with the right engine

Engine and gearbox – As you’d expect, the Tiguan has a range of four-cylinder turbocharged engines – one diesel and two petrol motors

Ride and handling – It’s clear that the Tiguan has been engineered with care, but as enjoyable as it is, it does lack its own character

MPG and running costs – Officially, over 60mpg is achievable in a Tiguan if you choose the right one

Interior and tech – Functional and pleasant, but the upgraded infotainment can be frustrating to use

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Design – VW’s restrained style is apparent in its popular SUV, but it can be easily undone with hi-spec options and trim

Prices, specs and rivals 

There’s almost a £20,000 gap between the base-model Tiguan S and the top-of-the-pack R-Line specification. Spending £23,255 gets you a grey Tiguan S on 17-inch wheels with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive. Go for an R-Line Tiguan with all-wheel drive, a 237bhp diesel engine, DSG gearbox, pearl white paint and heated leather seats and you can breach the £42,000 mark.

As well as the Ateca, Kodiaq and Karoq mentioned above, the Tiguan also competes with cars it shares showroom space with, sometimes even a name. The Tiguan Allspace – a bigger, seven-seat SUV – takes many of the regular Tiguan’s styling cues and stretches it to give it more interior space. It’s not as appealing to look at as the normal Tiguan, though; it doesn’t have the same short overhangs and tough exterior.

There’s also the Passat Estate Alltrack from VW, an all-wheel drive, jacked-up version of the Passat. It isn’t quite as tall as the Tiguan and as a result it’s more conventional and more fun to drive. As it’s a Passat, it’s very practical, too. However, it’s simply not as ‘lifestyle’ as the SUV.

> SEAT Ateca review

It isn’t just cars from within the VW Group that rival the Tiguan, there’s a huge selection of SUVs on the market, including Ford’s Kuga, Nissan’s Qashqai, Mazda’s CX-5, Renault’s Kadjar and Toyota’s C-HR.

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