REVIEW DATE: 10 May 2010
Can Volkswagen secure game, set and Match in the compact 4x4 class with its Tiguan? Steve Walker takes a look.
4x4 vehicles used to be a tiny minority on UK roads. No longer, 4x4s and models that visually purport to be 4x4s are everywhere. Growing numbers of these vehicles are being bought and there are growing numbers of all shapes and sizes for car buyers to choose from but how does a manufacturer get its product noticed amid the throng? Volkswagen is hoping that the Match trim level can help push its Tiguan to the forefront of the compact 4x4 sector.
In longer established areas of the car market, there are well-known brand names that simplify the selection process for customers. It's likely that even supermini buyers with little interest in cars will be familiar with names like Clio, Fiesta and Yaris, while those in the market for a family hatch might be on first name terms with the Focus, Astra and Golf.
The 4x4 market sprang up, expanded and is evolving so quickly that zeroing in your search on the type of 4x4 you're after, let alone the precise model, can be trickier. The race is on amongst 4x4 manufacturers, which is just about every mainstream car brand these days, to build a strong presence in the market and Volkswagen would dearly love the Tiguan name to be as recognisable as Polo or Golf within a few years. The Match trim level has already appeared on Polo, Golf and Touran models with a mix of reasonable prices and a long equipment list. Now there's a Tiguan Match too.
The Tiguan's all-turbocharged engine line-up is nothing if not high-tech and most of the units are available with the Match trim level. Things kick off with the 1.4 TSI 'Twincharger' engine so called because is has a supercharger to supplement the turbo's performance from low revs. There's 148bhp on tap here, helping the Tiguan to a 9.3s 0-60mph time. Buyers wanting some extra zip when they stomp the throttle can get Volkswagen's 2.0-litre TSI unit with has a turbocharger, 168bhp and an 8.5s time for the sprint. It's a little more refined than the 1.4-litre unit. The diesel options are the ubiquitous VW 2.0 TDI units with either 138 or 168bhp. Low running costs will ensure their popularity but performance will be more than adequate too with 10.5 and 8.9s time for the 0-60mph sprint respectively.
"Volkswagen is hoping that the well specified Match versions of its Tiguan will help attract buyers"
Off-road ability has become a little bit of a badge of honour for compact 4x4s like the Tiguan. Buyers don't need it but they'd like the model they choose to have it all the same. The 4x4 Tiguan uses the basic Haldex all-wheel-drive system from the Golf 4MOTION models but with a wider track and ground clearance increased to 189mm. More importantly, it has a nice line in electronic trickery to help it out of sticky situations. The entry-level cars forgo 4x4 entirely and are exclusively front-wheel-drive but all Tiguans perform with good tranquillity on the road. The suspension is on the firm side but this helps deliver the responsive and agile driving experience which is amongst the best you'll encounter in a 4x4 of this type.
The Tiguan is largely as you would expect a Volkswagen off-roader to look, the marque not known for its radical styling departures. The glasshouse is a good deal narrower than the lower section of the car which fills out at the shoulder line to chunky effect. There might even be a hint of Porsche Cayenne about the rear view. Inside, the design is lifted directly from the Golf models so you know it's going to have that Volkswagen air of quality.
We know that the Tiguan is based on the Golf but Volkswagen has done a typically thorough job of converting their family hatch favourite into a 4x4. The Golf uses an all-aluminium sub frame but this was deemed not sufficiently strong to handle the buffeting that committed owners might subject their Tiguan too. As a result, the vehicle uses a modular sub-frame that's aluminium at the front and steel at the rear. The rear seats slide back and forth to prioritise legroom or boot space. Neither is massively generous but it's easy to drop the rear seat backs down, increasing the available space to 1,510 litres.
The Match trim level sits in the middle of the Tiguan line-up but the specification is considerably better than that positioning would suggest. The equipment list includes a six-disc CD stereo with iPod connectivity and a DAB radio, a Bluetooth telephone system, Park Assist which guides you into parallel parking spaces, climates control and a touchscreen control panel to marshal it all. That's on top of the six airbags, ESP stability control and 17" alloy wheels that come as standard. A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but the 7-speed DSG auto unit is also available on selected models.
After the growth of the market for compact 4x4s we're seeing a number of sub-divisions growing up within it. The Tiguan would have been grouped together with traditional compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V but its mild road manners, low-key looks and classy cabin mean it can also hold its own in the crossover class against models like the Ford Kuga or Hyundai ix35. The Match model is certain to prove popular as the mid-point in the range with an attractive equipment list. Prices are competitive alongside its direct rivals but Volkswagen's strong residual values should give it an edge.
Most owners will go for the economical diesel models but even the petrol 1.4 TSI variant is reasonably frugal, returning over 35mpg on the combined cycle. Both this 1.4 TSI engine and the less powerful of the two diesels are also available in 2WD form with BlueMotion Technology, which amounts to a variety of fuel saving kit. In this guise, the 1.4 can return over 42mpg and CO2 emissions down from 185g/km to 156g/km. The oil-burner with BlueMotion Technology can get 53mpg and 139g/km which is very good for a compact 4x4 - even a front-wheel-drive one.
Choosing between the different shapes and sizes of 4x4 on today's market can be tricky and pinpointing the exact model to go for is even more so. Volkswagen is hoping that the well specified Match versions of its Tiguan will help attract buyers and there's little reason to expect that its hopes won't be realised.
The Tiguan has less off-road attitude than many of its rivals and feels more like a jacked-up Golf hatch than a compact 4x4 but there's no shame in that. Buyers get a typically elegant and well assembled Volkswagen cabin along with one of the most composed and enjoyable driving experiences in the compact 4x4 class. The all-wheel-drive models are even reasonably competent off-road and the pricing of the Match variants means you won't pay as much for that VW badge as you might have imagined.
The results below show the top TIGUAN deals on buyacar
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi SE 5dr Auto diesel estate|
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi BlueMotion Tech Match 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £26,000||Save £480|
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSi R Line 5dr estate|
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi BlueMotion Tech SE 5dr DSG diesel estate|
|Price £25,000||Save £3,455|
|Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDi BlueMotion Tech SE 5dr [2WD] diesel estate|
|Price £19,499||Save £4,160|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT TIGUAN DEALS|
|For TIGUAN MATCH|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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