Volkswagen’s Tiguan is a runaway success for those who prioritize styling and spaciousness.
The MK2 Volkswagen Tiguan is doing very well. So well in fact that it is VW’s best-selling nameplate. I need not elaborate on the SUV craze which explains why the Tigger is out-selling the Jetta, VW’s previous sales leader. Despite the love for the VW Tiguan, I think it’s the worst Volkswagen product.
And I do mean the least pleasing to drive, the least refined and with the poorest levels of quality and attention to detail I’ve witnessed in a long time. What’s bothersome is that this large compact SUV is handsome as hell, both inside and out.
On paper, it’s all good
The base 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan Trendline starts at $29,225 and already looks the part. Basic equipment includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and loads more. 4MOTION AWD is a worthwhile $2,250 option. At this price point, the $34,675 adds some active safety features, keyless access and push-button start, power liftgate and a power driver seat. This is the version to get.
My tester was an Highline with 18-inch wheels, VW’s digital cockpit, sunroof and heated steering wheel for $39,575. On top of all this, it also included the R-Line and Driver Assist packages and the 3rd row seat. Grad total: $41,625. I’ll say it now: don’t get the 3rd row bench. It’s $750 and useless.
Dashing inside and out
What my tested Dark Moss green R-Line tester was, however, is excruciatingly attractive. A more premium-looking large compact SUV I cannot think of. Sure, the Mazda CX-5 is handsome but not “premium-handsome,” at least in my opinion.
The cabin too is up there. It’s simple, clean, properly assembled with an exception or two. The dashboard and its materials are pure VW, as are the layout and functionality. Many points are awarded to VW’s Digital Cockpit and storage room is decent. But, and there’s a big but…
My tester suffered a horrible driver-side door rattle (I picked up the noise while shooting my video) and heard a cracking noise from the dashboard on a pair of occasions. These are issues that were common-place with past Volkswagens but should not be in 2019. The recently evaluated Atlas, GTI, R and my own Golf Sportwagen have no such faults.
While on board, I must admit that passenger and boot volumes are immense. With the pointless 3rd row stowed, the trunk can hold over 1,050 litres of stuff. The 2nd row, which reclines and moves for and aft, can accommodate three across. Up front, there’s loads of room as well. Sadly, the front seats, although look the part, are not as supportive and comfortable as what we can expect from VW.
Massive let down to drive
Now that we’re well primed from the styling and available space, it’s time to come crashing down to earth. The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan is delivered with a single powertrain which consists of a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine good for 184-horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to the standard 8-speed automatic transmission, the Tigger is not quick. Tipping the scale at 1,750kg (3,850 lb.) without the 3rd row, it’s quite the heavy-weight – performance and fuel economy are affected. With this SUV, expect an average of 10-11L/100km, which is considerably higher than many of its competitors.
In a way, you’ll not be desiring to push your Tiguan very much as the engine quickly gets loud under load. No other recently reviewed VW has suffered from such a raucous engine. Throttle application is met with the usual “digital delay which can normally be overcome with the transmission in Sport mode. It doesn’t much help and when left in “D”, the transmission is intent on taking off in 2nd gear causing lazy acceleration.
And then, we get to the unforgivable ride quality. I’m going to chalk part of the issue to the 19-inch wheels but the real problem are the dampers which provide limited damping and comfort. All road imperfections, starting with the slightest cracks, ride up through the tires, wheels, steering and suspension components and end their journey by cause the driver’s side door card to rattle among other disturbances.
The 2019 VW Tiguan’s handles nicely when pushed but the penalty is far too great – this is the least refined, most unpleasant MQB platform-based Volkswagen. And yet, it’s the best-looking and one of the more spacious and utilitarian large compact SUVs in the segment.