Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI

Photos by Ulysses Ang
In the age of celebrity nicknames such as “Kimye” (Kim Kardashian + Kanye West) or “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie), it was just going to be a matter of time for the automotive industry to follow suit. And Volkswagen seems to have done just that with their compact crossover, the Tiguan. Though one might think it’s named after a nomadic desert tribe like the Touareg, it actually stands for Tiger + Iguana because Volkswagen thinks this feisty little number combines the best attributes of these two animals: power and grip. Indeed, the name is quite suitable for one of the best surprises in the compact crossover genre.

With its motto of Das Auto or “The Car”, Volkswagen has always stood for value, practicality, and timelessness. And like the company that spawned the iconic Beetle, the Tiguan is also a poster child of these values. Its size is pretty ideal for a compact crossover—not to big, not to small; and is styled to appeal for generations to come. The frontend is both sporty and elegant with the square-cut bumpers, grille, and headlamps. The Tiguan doesn’t rely on busy and contorted lines; instead it has a classy two-bar chrome grille with black inserts sandwiched in-between. There’s a unified theme with the chrome extending to the lower bumper opening and the front fog lamp housing with slat-like detailing. The side of the Tiguan is less dramatic, but a chrome highlight separating the painted and non-painted surfaces again adds a unifying touch that echoes the chrome window molding and roof rail. Standard 235/55R17 tires with multi-spoke alloys look just right on the Tiguan. At the back, the Tiguan’s styling ties it up to the rest of the Volkswagen SUV family with hints of Touareg here and there. The intricate tail lamps is a nice touch, though naysayers will point out it looks too similar to the Kia Sportage, down to the way the tailgate opens and the positioning of the reverse lights. The fit and finish, especially the paint is superb on the Tiguan. Indeed, this is one good-looking European that’s built to last.

Inside, the Tiguan feels right at home with the rest of the Volkswagen family. The dashboard layout is neat and logical. Like the Tiguan’s exterior, the interior doesn’t call too much attention to itself. Nonetheless, every control you can think of—from the power window switches, stalks, audio system, and even climate control are all within easy reach. The front seats are wide and supportive with a knob-type adjustment for the driver (perfect for getting the right driving position). The most comfortable driving position in the Tiguan is higher than a typical crossover, so drivers will feel like they’re towering above traffic. This gives the Tiguan a more commanding view of traffic at the expense of a less than sporty driving position. If there’s one single gripe about the Tiguan’s man-machine interface, it’s the infotainment system. The standard RCD 310 audio system, equipped with the MDI interface is supposed to seamlessly work with iPods. Unfortunately, in the five days we had the Tiguan, it wouldn’t recognize the nano and in the end, we ended up plugging a USB flash drive instead. And even then, the interface is buggy and laggy. The Bluetooth hands-free system is very frustrating to use as well and we couldn’t even get the Tiguan to pair, let alone recognize either a BlackBerry Bold or a Samsung Galaxy S4.

Volkswagen proudly calls the Tiguan “a miracle of space”, and this maybe the case for the front occupants. Those in the back though won’t think so highly with the smaller-than-an-average-crossover’s rear seats. Fitting one or two people at the back is alright, in fact they’ll love the supportive seats; but five will result in the middle guy complaining about the bulbous center tunnel that robs usable knee room. But at least they do get their own rear vents along with the front passenger’s eight (!) vents. With a small footprint, don’t expect the cargo area to be cavernous and it’s not. But the Tiguan offers plenty of adaptability with the 60/40 split-folding and sliding rear seats with a center pass through for long objects like golf clubs. For even longer objects like lumber, the front passenger seat folds forward too allowing you to cram almost everything inside a Tiguan.

Volkswagen has thrown a unique curveball by powering the Tiguan with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine. Though Volkswagen Philippines has announced that a TSI-powered version will arrive soon, the TDI engine is the one to get simply because it makes it one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers available. It does 9.53 km/L in the city and 21.28 km/L on the highway, good for a combined figure of 11.77 km/L. Plus, it gives the Tiguan impressive range—up to 800 kilometers on a single tank. With 140 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque on tap, the Tiguan is pretty nimble, especially from a standstill. There’s almost little need to squeeze the throttle beyond halfway to get it going. The engine sounds clattery at idle, but that’s on the outside; inside absolutely no vibration makes it passed the solidly-built body. The conventional 6-speed automatic (not a dual clutch) is quick shifting and responsive too; perhaps too responsive that it loves to downshift at almost every opportunity leaving the impression that the Tiguan indeed suffers from a dual clutch’s typical lack low speed refinement.

Based off Volkswagen PQ35 platform, the very same one that underpins the Golf, Tiguan is one of the most fun crossovers to drive. Despite the unassuming tall driving position, the Tiguan feels like a sports wagon with almost no body roll and neutral handling when going through tight bends. The steering also feels very accurate. Surprisingly, the sporty tune of the suspension doesn’t detriment the Tiguan’s ride. Though there’s extra firmness, the solid body structure means it doesn’t feel crashy even when going through uneven pavement and potholes. The secret is Adaptive Chassis Control which uses an electrically adjustable damping system that responses to changing driving conditions. The system also modifies the electric power steering to make it light when parking and stable at high speeds. The Tiguan also comes standard with Volkswagen’s 4motion all-wheel drive system which distributes power between front and rear wheels via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch.

Priced at P 2,109,000, the Tiguan tips the scale as the most expensive compact crossover. However, you cannot ignore the care Volkswagen has brought to make sure it’s got all the features you actually need: automatic headlights (with cornering lights), rain-sensing wipers, 6 airbags, electronic stability program, tire pressure monitoring system, electronic parking brake with hill hold assist, rear parking sensors—in short, the Tiguan is one safety-minded crossover. It even gets convenience and luxury features down pat: a push-button engine start/stop, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a lockable chilled glove box, auto dimming rear view mirror—the list goes on. And let’s not forget the seats—those aren’t paltry fabrics. Volkswagen has upped the competition and fitted grippy Alcantara on the Tiguan.

The Volkswagen Tiguan is the ideal travel companion for both the urban jungle and the great outdoors. It’s a capable performer with a smooth and stable ride while still being equally at home on patchy city street. The Tiguan name may simply be a made up word or a portmanteau, but this is one Volkswagen that deserves a second look. Just like its namesake, the Volkswagen Tiguan offers the best of both worlds—it’s truly a Tiger and Iguana rolled into one convincing package.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI
Ownership 2.0 TDI Sport & Style
Year Introduced 2013
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 140 @ 4,200
Nm @ rpm 320 @ 1,750
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,426
Width (mm) 1,809
Height (mm) 1,703
Wheelbase (mm) 2,604
Curb Weight (kg) 1,655
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires 235/55R17
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Alcantra/Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes (front), 60/40 with pass through (rear)
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 8
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. I really like this small suv, it glides thru bumps and road unevenness that will upset other small suvs ride. It is not as fast as a tucson diesel but still provides the shove to your seat turbo kick. Volkswagen please keep it below 2M

  2. is this coming from volkswagen's mexico or india plant? kinda hard to swallow 2m for a CUV

  3. It's nice. And it's a Volkswagen! But I find it too pricey. At this amount, I'd go for a Santa fe or sorento. Or maybe the cheaper, fast, and economical Peugeot 3008.
    But I can't argue. still, it's a Volkswagen :D

  4. 2M+ and you don't even get power seats? An paltry engine with only 140 horses? Pushing it and assuming that Pinoys are mostly suckers.

  5. where can i fine the shoroom of this car in manila?

  6. i want to know the showroom of this car in manila?

    1. Volkswagen BGC:
      938 28th Street City Center, Bonifacio Global City Taguig City 1634, Philippines

  7. VW is managed by Ayala here in the phil if i'm not mistaken.

  8. Why does tiguan 2014 doesnt have sunroof and automatic parking in the philippines????

    1. Not at this time, both of those features aren't available in the Tiguan.

  9. Is a upgrade to Bi-Xenon Headlamps possible?

    1. I don't think so. I don't think VW Philippines accepts special orders.

  10. Sir Uly, please review the Touareg 3.0 TDi!!! that piece of machine is really interesting in terms of specs, pricing, and market placing. :) Thanks!! :D