Last month, my wife expressed the spirit of friendship through gift-giving. Unfortunately, she also seems to be an acolyte of just-in-time economics.
Being Christmas season, this means that I find myself playing Ninjavan on a soggy December evening, smack in the seething throng of similarly harried motorists. I have a delivery schedule of friends’ homes in the double digits and a dinner-with-family deadline to meet.
The most wonderful time of the year indeed. The upside? VW’s new-ish Tiguan.
The likeable Tiguan remains as exemplary as ever despite first debuting here in 2017 and living through an onslaught of newer competitors. As facelifts go, this one is not the most significant. The headlights, and front and rear get a reworking and not much substantially else aesthetically.
EASY PEASY SUV
The Tiguan is an easy car to live with.
The driving position is perfect. Visibility is excellent, and everything falls intuitively and instinctively to hand. It looks a bit sombre in photos, but the shapes and proportions actually feel solid and ooze quality.
As a sensible and comfortable place to spend many hours, there are few, if any, manufacturers who make anything better. Even if it’s your first day in the car, you feel as if you’ve known it for years.
The Tiguan’s style of instrumentation and infotainment is from an earlier time – before VW’s interior designers got drunk on silicone and nuked dashboard knobs out of the latest Mk 8 Golf.
So, the tech is crisp and beautifully easy to use and read. Connectivity is now the USB-C standard, but if you have the right cable Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are seamlessly activated.
A tiny bit of the “Omygod” variant of the 2020s viral obsession with necrotising tactile controls out of dashboards has infected the Tiguan. The symptoms include the touch sliders that have replaced the climate control knobs.
But it’s a minor irritation. At least they are still separate and not integrated into the touchscreen. Note to carmakers: Touch sliders are not a solution to anything outside the bedroom.
The same pleasant melody of control synchrony shows up in the driving experience.
The steering is accurate, perfectly weighted and slickly smooth. The SUV’s body motions match your intent and expectations. The throttle, brakes and general demeanour allow the car to flow as a coherent whole from gap in traffic to gap in traffic.
Driving other cars, especially SUVs, is often tiring. That is because, just beneath the conscious plane, the sheer volume of sensory input disturbs the senses in a staccato stream of little surprises, which then need minute corrections.
But the Tiguan is so well honed and oiled for the city streets that these intrusions “harmonise” themselves out of the picture to make commuting an unthinkingly easy affair.
With the absence of irritating subconscious interference, the spirit goes unmolested.
A pillowy cloud-mobile, however, this is not. The Tiguan has the right amount of Germanic solidity underfoot to inspire confidence in its gait. The kind of confidence that, well, helps you not think about it. Again, the theme here is “just right”.
Sans electrical assistance, the new turbocharged 2-litre motor sometimes gets caught napping when called upon to target the last gap in Stevens Road traffic.
Nicking the powertrain and transmission into Sport mode solves the problem. It is otherwise sweetly muscular and proportionate in its responses, despite being less powerful and conceived for greater efficiency than the Golf GTI lump in the pre-facelift model.
Gearshifts are imperceptible if you want them to be and snappily quick if you employ the paddles. There is more than a decent spread of torque to dust the dawdling trucks on the PIE.
In the backseat, the Tiguan’s boxy roofline means much space and headroom. The panoramic sunroof enhances the calming sensation of spaciousness even more.
The rear seats slide and recline on their own rails, and the 40:20:40 split-folding backrests add extra versatility. The cargo capacity of 615 litres, which expands to 1655 litres, is cavernous and has a sensible rectangular shape.
NEITHER TOO HOT NOR TOO COLD
Driving the Tiguan, even at rush hour and in these godawful conditions, is a cinch. This is a not a car whose charms (and I emphasise that they are absolutely mission critical virtues) can be adequately expressed on a specification sheet.
This is VW doing what it has done best for decades: Make a vehicle that is so in tune with itself that it becomes more than the sum of its parts.
It is so thoughtlessly easy to use at normal, real-world velocities that you can almost forget that you are trying to bore a hole through the most recalcitrant and hostile of traffic conditions.
We’ve seen this in the Golf, we’ve seen this in the Touran, and we continue to enjoy it in what is, as a mid-size family SUV, the current conceptual nucleus of the useable commuting appliance zeitgeist.
Volkswagen Tiguan Elegance 4Motion 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1984cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 190hp at 4200-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 320Nm at 1500-4100rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 113.23hp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 214km/h
CONSUMPTION 14.5km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $189,900 (no VES rebate/surcharge)
AGENT Volkswagen Centre Singapore