You’ll know when a carmaker has really nailed a model when it comes time for it to be facelifted.
If the manufacturer got it right the first time, the car in question won’t need major upgrades four or five years later. Conversely, a model that elicits complaints will need a long list of updates that cannot arrive soon enough.
Fortunately, Volkswagen got the second-generation Tiguan right when they launched it back in 2016.
Compared to the first-gen model, the new Tiguan has a roomier and more versatile cabin, an optimised driving position and digital cockpit. Its refinement was easily two notches higher than before, too.
Given its solid foundations, Volkswagen essentially had to give the Tiguan a nip here and a tuck there to keep it current.
SPOTTING THE CHANGES
Design changes to VW models are usually evolutionary, not revolutionary. So, no-one will blame you for not noticing anything new at first.
Look closely enough though, and you’ll see that the front end has been revised. There’s a new grille and bumper, along with a pair of LED headlights.
At the rear, there’s a new bumper with “exhaust finishers”, and the “Tiguan” lettering is now written across the tailgate, similar to other Volkswagen models.
The changes in the cabin were easier to spot. The 10.25-inch instrument cluster, for instance, is the same as the one in the Golf and T-Cross. The infotainment system – based on the latest MIB3 system – has a cleaner interface with fewer buttons.
The air-con controls are now different – touch sliders are used to adjust the temperature. It’s good that you can still click on them, because sliding your finger takes getting used to. I prefer the dials in the pre-facelift Tiguan.
Speaking of dials, also “new” is the 4Motion Active Control dial located behind the gearshift lever. It lets the driver choose from several drive settings: On road, Off Road, Off Road Individual, and Snow.
I say “new” because this dial and the 4Motion system it controls are back in the Tiguan. The second-generation model was initially available with a 2-litre engine and 4Motion, but later, VW Singapore replaced it with a 1.4-litre, front-wheel-drive variant.
The latest Tiguan, however, is currently only available with the turbocharged 2-litre inline-4 engine that pumps out 190hp and 320Nm. Paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch, the Tiguan finishes the century sprint in a respectable 7.4 seconds.
That’s a lot quicker than the Tiguan 1.4, which takes 9.2 seconds to hit the century mark.
This performance is complemented by the new 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Equipped with Engine Drag Torque Control (EDTC), traction control and an Electronic Differential Lock, the latest 4Motion gives the SUV its off-roading abilities and added surefootedness, which will be handy in wet weather.
Frankly, all-wheel-drive isn’t a necessity in our concrete jungle. But if you’re considering an SUV like this, why not?
The boost in performance is good, but what will matter to most drivers is the overall refinement. NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels remain as low as I remember, so you’re in for a quiet ride.
This is particularly impressive since run-flat tyres are standard equipment on the Tiguan. Their reinforced sidewalls usually result in a bumpy ride, but not so here.
On-road, the Tiguan shows its quiet manners and provides an easy-going drive. I hoped that VW would improve steering feel and feedback, or perhaps sharpen the car’s responses, but the carmaker probably decided to play it safe.
That means no palpable improvement in on-road handling. Pushing the Tiguan results in understeer – it is clear that refinement remains the name of the game here, which is good news for most buyers.
THE POINT TO PONDER
The latest Volkswagen Tiguan is even more impressive than before because its technology, connectivity and drivability have been further strengthened.
However, at $179,900 (correct at time of writing), it has to contend with premium rivals such as the Audi Q3 1.4 and Mercedes-Benz GLA 180.
That said, if badges do not concern you, then the Tiguan will remain a compelling proposition. Volkswagen really got this model right the first time, and five years later, it still shows.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1984cc, inline-4, 16-valves, turbocharged
MAX POWER 190hp at 4200-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 320Nm at 1500-4100rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 113.23 hp 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 $179,900 (no VES rebate/surcharge)
AGENT Volkswagen Singapore