Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Review: The Golf That Grew Up And Had A Family

Can that tiny engine deliver enough power now that the Tiguan is a much larger SUV than before?

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Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Review: The Golf That Grew Up And Had A Family

Usually, with every new generation of cars that come along to replace the old, manufacturers will add a few millimetres here and there, and then take a bit off the top. Mission complete, good job team, let’s go get a drink. Not for the team at Wolfsburg though, they’ve made the new Volkswagen Tiguan significantly larger than the previous generation.

The evidence is crystal clear. Stand the new Volkswagen Tiguan beside the previous generation, and you’ll see the difference. The second-generation Tiguan is 60mm longer, 30mm wider and 33mm shorter, with a wheelbase increment of a whopping 77mm. The outcome of the upsizing lets the Tiguan have a broader, more robust looking stance.

There’s no shortage of confidence in the Tiguan, the bold grille that seemingly extends to the headlamps plays up the effect. The lines on the body – from front to back – appear as sharp and crisp as a properly pressed suit. It is a rather simple design but one that’s no less attractive.

The Tiguan present today wears the Highline Package, proof of it is in the chrome roof rails, 18-inch ‘Kingston’ alloy wheels and LED headlamps with LED DRLs. The Highline Package also extends inside. The seats are wrapped in Vienna combination leather with the ‘Dark Grid’ trim adding highlights to a very familiar, black-dominated interior. The similarities between this Tiguan and the Golf R I tested a few months back are striking but not entirely surprising. And it’s not a bad thing, too, since the dashboard is fitted to the same precision as the imported Golf R. By the way, this Tiguan is assembled in Malaysia.

Both vehicles ride on the same malleable MQB platform, so the sharing of components is expected. Depending on the application, the MQB platform can be lengthened, which is what you get with the Tiguan. Interior space is, of course, more voluminous than the Golf, which opens more legroom. In spite of the shorter roof, the headroom inside is superb.

Seats in the Tiguan are set high enough that you’ll be sitting tall. The seating position takes advantage of the large glasshouse, giving you clear vantage points all around the Tiguan, making you forgive the lack of any blind-spot monitoring in this SUV.

And let’s not forget that the meter cluster, when you opt for the Highline Package, swaps the analogue meters for a digital monitor that displays the essentials and then some. Although this screen comes to the freedom to choose what you want to view at any given time, we’d gamble that you’ll have the navigation on at all times. 

Sheer engineering marvel has made the Tiguan 50kg lighter than the previous generation, despite the upsizing and the added tech. This, perhaps, helps to lessen the burden the tiny engine in front has to shoulder.

Pop the hood, and you’ll find the familiar 1.4-litre TSI engine. Although small in size, this turbocharged four-cylinder delivers 148hp and 250Nm of torque. It does not make the Tiguan a hard and fast SUV if we're honest, even when that accelerator is stepped on with full force. 

What keeps drivers satisfied is the torque’s early entry of 1,500 till 3,500rpm. The torque band is large enough to quickly poke out of corners and give you a quick burst of power should the need to overtake slower vehicles arises. Really, it covers the everyday situations that you’ll no doubt encounter.

Completing the drivetrain is a wet-clutch six-speed DSG that shift as fast as it is smooth. If you’ve experienced the awkward shifting of the first gears of previous DSG units, rest assured this new one does not display any of that nonsense. And it is a good thing considering most of the time you’d be stuck in the typical city traffic.

Get up to speed on a bright patch of road, you’ll uncover a comfortably gentle ride. Spring and dampers flatten large undulations, and only the more jarring ones escape into the cabin.

On winding roads, the Tiguan displays healthy body control that gently rights itself after every corner. With quick steering in your hands, the Tiguan can show bits and pieces of fun through the B-roads. But carry too much speed and the SUV begins to progressively understeer, giving you a chance to make appropriate adjustments. Failing that, the ESC kicks in to return the SUV to a more controllable state. 

While it may not be too crazy on the power, this Volkswagen does deliver a comfortable and quiet drive that’s better than most. And on that note, the Volkswagen checks all the right boxes that a typical family would want in their everyday vehicle.

Specification: Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Highline
Engine 1,395cc, 4 cylinders, direct injection, turbocharged | Transmission 6-speed DSG, wet-clutch, front-wheel drive | Power / Torque 148hp @ 5,000 - 6,000rpm / 250Nm @ 1,500 - 3,500rpm | Performance 9.2s 0-100kph, 6.7l/100km, 148 g/km CO2 | Price RM166,560 on-the-road without insurance | Score 8/10


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