VW Tiguan | Long term review | evo India
I hate speed breakers. In the city you cannot find a decent 200-metre stretch of road without a speed breaker breaking your back and killing your suspension. Throwing in one speed breaker after another is like an epidemic with our city planners and it’s a communicable disease ― now even housing society committees have caught the virus.
My society has a gate, which is always manned, so there’s no question of anybody flying into or out of the society. Yet the committee has found it prudent to slap a speed breaker just after the gate. A beautifully unscientific speed breaker, no proper approach or departure, basically it’s like hitting a sharp, tall ridge. A small wall. And this is sweetly positioned just as you turn left or right onto the main road, which means you always hit it at an awkward angle.
No matter how slowly you go, no matter how carefully you try to line up the car, and no matter if it is a car or SUV, everything rocks horribly on this speed breaker. It’s a horrid way to start, or end the day. And then I went over it in the Tiguan.
The SUV had arrived in the afternoon, I’d parked it, done a quick walk around it, and went back up to finish editing a video. Late that night I went to pick up Dad from the airport and obviously took the new car. Didn’t pay much attention to the first two speed breakers (yup, our society has two additional speed breakers inside!), waited for the watchman to open the gate, braced for the inevitably aggressive rocking over the speed breaker, and… wait a minute!
Now I’m not going to overplay my hand here, and of course the Tiguan doesn’t flatten the speed breaker. But the way it goes over the nonsense on our roads, in a composed manner, with enough compliance and a quick rebound to curb the rocking, is damn impressive ― and it quickly brings back memories of the Tiguans that we have had on the evo fleet.
We’ve had our adventures and we’ve lived extensively with the Tiguan. Back in 2020 when the first lockdowns eased, I decamped to the farm with the Tiguan, loaded to the roof with supplies, feed for the cattle, a huge battery for the generator, farm tools and more. A few months earlier, in the winter, we had driven up the Shinku La pass in the snow ― those were the days before the tarmac road was laid. A year prior to that the Tiguan was our support on the drive to Sandakphu and the highest road in East India. Through it all the Tiguan remained a fast, safe, stable and comfortable companion, and this new Tiguan takes everything that we loved and raises it up a notch.
Starting with the power. There’s so much more of it thanks to the 2-litre TSI engine. But there’s only so much of the power you can use in the city. The big difference you notice on the daily commute is the fantastic refinement of the engine. It purrs like a pussycat. In fact in most instances you can barely hear it, apart from when you gun it and then it takes on a nice sporty note. And mated to this engine, the DSG also feels so much more refined.
Another big difference is that the Tiguan now gets heads turning. Our Tiguans in the past were grey and white, and they tended to blend into the background. This new one is an unmistakable red. Last year a close friend bought one in an equally unmistakable blue. The Tiguan takes the traditional solid lines and timeless design that we know VW does so well and mates it to louder detailing. And it works. In fact I didn’t even notice the cool start-up light sequence of the LED taillamps until Anand posted it on his Instagram. Nice little touches of bling on this SUV.
And this is a proper SUV with 4-Motion all-wheel-drive and the off-road plus mode that, as we experienced in the Himalayas in the past, can crawl up slippery slopes and even snow-clad passes with ease. There’s also a Sport mode that further livens up the TSI engine and DSG gearbox, adding verve and vigour to the Tiguan.
We will stretch its legs when we head to the highway.
Some things though we love that VW haven’t messed with. Such as the volume knob ― a proper physically twirly knob which is becoming as rare as predictable weather patterns. In this rush towards huge screens manufacturers have killed the volume knob which is such a silly thing to do. Passengers can never turn down the volume. Thankfully the Tiguan retains it. On the other side the volume knob is a dedicated button that goes straight into the equaliser settings. It lets me quickly cut down the bass when I have passengers, and then equally quickly amp it up when I’m back alone ― saves me the hassle of diving into multiple menus. It might seem like a trivial detail but it elevates the experience of living with it. As does this other detail that all past VW owners will be familiar with ― long press the lock button on the key and all four windows roll up.
That said, there’s still no wireless CarPlay which I miss, and the screen isn’t as big as the units we are used to these days. On the other hand the digital cockpit is truly massive. Here too VW does things intelligently. There’s one clearly marked out button on the steering wheel that lets you cycle between the different layouts, great for ease of operation. I like the display with the big circular dials, more often than not the classic layout is the best.
Other stuff the Tiguan does brilliantly ― humongous door pockets that can take a couple of big bottles; plenty of space behind the gear lever for big coffee mugs; a compartment on the top of the dash to throw in bills, and another nook under the light switch to keep some cash. The Tiguan also has huge, wide and comfy seats with power assist and memory. There’s not much side support but that actually makes it nice and comfy for most body sizes. Together with the reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel you can get into a really nice driving position, and unlike other SUVs in this class the Tiguan lets you dip the seat nice and low so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on the car but rather in the car.
The cabin itself feels nice and airy, there’s a panoramic sunroof and at the rear, three abreast is perfectly comfy. There’s also a nifty little storage compartment on the side of the rear seat for passengers to keep their phones. And the boot has hooks to latch on soft bags so that they don’t get thrown around when the Tiguan is being driven enthusiastically.
Rohit, our chief photographer, has spent lots of time in the back seat of the Tiguan driving all over the country and he gives it top marks for comfort. It’s not just the seat support and cushioning but also the suspension setup that stays planted on the highway at fast cruising speeds. No pitch or wallow. No heave-ho. A flat and level body irrespective of a wavy or undulating road surface is what keeps driver fatigue at bay while also keeping passengers comfortable. In fact the ride gets better as you build speed, a feature typical of all VW Group cars, and one that has now also filtered down to the Taigun and Virtus. As you build speed the ride compliance keeps getting better and better. This is an SUV that enjoys fast highway cruising, with cracks, ripples and expansion joints doing little to shake its composure.
At low speeds you have that typical Germanic firmness to the ride that gives it an impression of being properly tied down. I wouldn’t call it sporty but it feels solid. Robust. Beautifully built. A quality SUV. And something that I’m looking forward to attacking speed breakers with over the course of the next couple of months.