I’ve been pottering around the last few weeks in our long-term Volkswagen Tiguan, having taken over the driving duties from colleague Jason Woosey.
I say pottering around because I haven’t had the opportunity yet to do some long distance driving so it’s been spending time in urban areas, which is likely what most average owners will be doing.
It’s the 1.4 TSI Life model and while there’s a couple of other options in the range like the 162kW 2.0 TSI, 2.0 TDI R-Line 4Motion and the bonkers R model, this one we have on test probably hits the sweet spot for most consumers.
It’s powered by VW’s 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol engine delivering 100kW and 250Nm, driving the front wheels via a six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox or if you want steering paddles, and in our test car the engine is started by turning an actual key.
The interior is a pleasant mix of digital and analogue that’s easy to use and user friendly with more conventional buttons and dials than fidgety sliding electronic controls.
I particularly enjoy the analogue dials set deeply into round cowls giving it a bit of an old-school look.
The touchscreen infotainment system is VW’s entry level 8.0-inch Composition Media, which does everything you need easily and I really haven’t missed a bigger screen or more options.
Over and above the standard electric tailgate, wireless phone charger, LED headlights, park distance control and three-zone climate control VW has added the optional Vienna leather seats, 19-inch Victoria alloys Area View camera system with Park Assist, IQ Drive package with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change System and Autonomous Emergency Braking, panoramic sunroof and folding Trailer Hitch at a cost of R74 550.
I’d opt for the IQ Drive package (R20 600) and possibly the Folding Trailer Hitch (R10 300).
Families will appreciate the 520 litre boot space, which is large enough to carry 10 bags of top soil and two bags of potting soil without having to fold or slide the rear seats forward.
Having driven both the 2.0 TDI R-Line 4Motion and the R model, which have oodles of power and provide a completely different driving experience, our test car hasn’t been found wanting with the turbo-charged mill providing more than enough vooma when called on to do so.
Gear changes are slick and so is cornering when you decide to play a bit on twisty roads, keeping in mind that ultimately it’s a family SUV so you won’t be leading the robot-to-robot shootout.
Driving with my son and a friend sitting in the back, they noticed there weren't USB ports, which is easily solved by plugging a separate two port charger into the 12V socket.
The front has two USB C ports so I had to get an adaptor to charge my phone anyway.
Apart from one or two “let’s see what you can do” driving sessions, I’ve mostly been doing short urban distances on highways and around the suburbs and fuel consumption stands at a credible 8.8l/100km. I’m sure with only consumption in mind that will go lower and on highway driving getting it to around 7l/100km wouldn’t be impossible.
So far I’ve enjoyed the honesty of the Tiguan, it’s got just the right mix of technology, options and driving comfort and it’s easy to see why it’s a popular option in the segment.