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The Tiguan gets stretched, adds a row of seats and gets a new engine under the hood. We get behind the wheel to see what it is like
In the month following Auto Expo, Volkswagen has already launched two new SUVs in India. It started with the Tiguan AllSpace, and was quickly followed by the T-Roc which actually launched as recently as yesterday. The Tiguan AllSpace is essentially a stretched out version of the Tiguan we are familiar with, and gets a third row of seats as well. It also gets a new 2-litre TSI engine, with no option of a diesel right now. The Tiguan will be the SUV that holds fort for the Volkswagen brand until it launches Taigun next year, so it is an important car. Is it better than the older Tiguan? Will you miss the diesel engine? Is that third row actually practical? Read on, I’m going to answer all these questions for you.
From the front, its actually pretty hard to tell the Tiguan AllSpace apart from the regular Tiguan. The keen-eyed in you will notice the new DRL elements in the headlamp cluster is different, but that is about it. It is when you move over to the side that you can actually tell the differences between the Tiguan and the AllSpace. The AllSpace is visibly longer — by 215mm, actually — and that is because the wheelbase is 110mm longer over the standard Tiguan putting it almost on par with the Skoda Kodiaq. Like the standard Tiguan, the AllSpace runs 18-inch wheels but another differentiator on the AllSpace is the lack of black plastic cladding between the wheels. This does give the AllSpace a slightly less rugged, but a more sophisticated look. The AllSpace also has a neatly integrated 4Motion logo on its flanks. From the rear, the differences are negligible but there is a Tiguan AllSpace badge to tell you what you’re looking at. Something that I really like on this AllSpace is the paint — Habanero Orange Metallic — and is huge shift from the dull colours available on the older Tiguan. There’s a bright red available too!
Up front, everything is pretty much the same as the outgoing 5-seater Tiguan. The only change up front is to the instrument cluster — the analogue dials have been swapped out for a fully digital cluster. The cluster is controlled by the right-hand-side cluster of the steering mounted controls. The digital display isn’t as flashy as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, or even Skoda’s but is more understated and subtle like the rest of the Tiguan. The Tiguan is well kitted out — 3-zone climate control, auto headlamps, auto wipers, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats with memory function — it gets the works.
Space in the rear seats is marginally more thanks to the longer wheelbase, and you will more comfortable in this Tiguan if you are seating just four. The rear passengers still get a pop-up tray table mounted to the front seatbacks, with their pop-out cupholders as well. The second row also slides forward on rails (to free up more room in the third row, if needed) and can be reclined as well — something that the older Tiguan didn’t get.
Now coming to the third row, the fact that the second row can be slid forward makes it pretty versatile. In its forward-most setting, my 5’10” frame could fit with my knees not touching the second row. But this leaves barely any kneeroom for second row passengers. The ideal position was with the second row somewhere in its middle setting — this left enough room for the passenger in the second row, and I could fit in the third row with my knees touching the seatback. Under-thigh support in the third row is non-existent as the floor is pretty high, and headroom isn’t much as well — my head would touch if I sat up straight. However, you do get extendable headrests in the interest of safety.
The fact that there is a third row also affects boot space. With all three rows up, you can fit in a couple of small bags without trouble but if you have a decent amount of luggage, you’re going to have to flip down the third row. The third row folds down easily (50:50 split), and you can fold the second row (40:20:40 split) manually from the latches in the boot too. Even the front passenger seat folds down and this frees up a total of 1274 litres of space for luggage in the car.
Behind the wheel
First up, we have to talk about the engine. This is a 2-litre TSI engine and it puts out 187.7 bhp and 320Nm of torque. This means it is up on power by about 50bhp, though torque is down by 20Nm from the 2-litre TDI engine it replaces. Setting off in the Tiguan Allspace, the first thing that strikes you is how much more response it feels with this new engine. There’s a slight bit of lag at low revs, but once you get past that, the engine comes on song and pulls strongly to the redline. It has a wider powerband than the diesel, and revs more eagerly too allowing you to pick up more speed in each gear. At low revs, the engine is rather refined and quiet meaning you can pottle about down barely hearing anything, and when you ask a lot of it, it gets a little louder but it sounds rather good. This is a four cylinder, so it was never going to be particularly evocative, but it does sound roarty when wrung hard. The 7-speed DSG is hard to fault, with its quick shifts. There’s some plasticky paddles behind the steering wheel too if you want to shift yourself.
As for the chassis, it remains extremely familiar. The Allspace is extremely planted on the road and has the feeling of German solidity about it. At speed, it stays flat and barely gets unsettled by dips, crests and undulations. Ride quality is good too, helped in no small part by the 18-inchers it runs on. It is a firmer than other 7-seater SUVs like the Fortuner and Endeavour, but not to a point of being uncomfortable. Handling has always been a highlight of the Tiguan. It feels planted around a corner, and gives you plenty of confidence to chuck it in hard. The steering, typical of all VW Group cars, is oily and lacks feedback but there’s weight to it and it feels connected to the front. Also, you do get the feeling that this is a longer car when you look out of the mirrors and see how far behind you it stretches.
All in all, the updated engine finally feels like it does justice to the Tiguan’s chassis. The diesel Tiguan lacked that enthusiastic drivetrain — out on the highway it could feel a little dull at higher speeds and though the chassis was well set up, the engine would leave you wanting in corners. Not any more. This new engine puts a proper smile on your face.
At Rs 33.12 lakh, the Tiguan Allspace is pretty expensive, but you need to remember that it is a CBU. And for that money, you are getting a punchier Tiguan, with added practicality. The Tiguan’s main rival is the Skoda Kodiaq, but that rivalry is only going to last a few days — as the latter hasn’t received a BS6 update just yet. So the other seven-seat SUVs it will go up against include the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and the Mahindra Alturas G4. These SUVs provide better space and off-road capability, but where the Tiguan shines is with its on-road dynamics. The monocoque chassis will out-do the body-on-frame set up of its rivals on the road, and the fact that it comes from the Volkswagen stable adds even more points in that department. The lack of a diesel may put off a few buyers, but there’s no denying the Allspace is a makes the Tiguan a more polished product than ever before.