Volkswagen Tiguan -

let battle commence

Volkswagen Tiguan, front action
Volkswagen Tiguan, front action
Volkswagen Tiguan, front static
Volkswagen Tiguan, rear off road
Volkswagen Tiguan, rear static
Volkswagen Tiguan, dashboard
Volkswagen Tiguan, dash display
Volkswagen Tiguan, boot
Volkswagen Tiguan, tall front
Volkswagen Tiguan, front seats
Volkswagen Tiguan, rear seats

VOLKSWAGEN planners must look at their shoes and mumble when they're asked about the company's SUV line up.

Which isn't nearly strong enough in a world that's gone Sports Utility Vehicle crazy and caught the German car giant on the hop.

That's going to change dramatically in the next year or two, with a product blizzard expected to plug every SUV gap going, filled for the moment by rivals raking in the profit.

Not that the VW SUV cupboard is quite empty now, with the big Touareg taking on the Volvo XC90, Range Rover and the like and the middle-sized Tiguan squaring up to the Honda CR-V and Nissan Qashqai, to name but two.

And the Tiguan is doing VW proud, selling more than 2.8 million since it arrived in 2007.

We Brits like the car a lot and bought 21,889 of them in 2015. That was a record, when you'd expect to see the sales graph gently decline as a model aged - but the craze for SUVs tipped it the other way.

Now comes a new Tiguan, charged with keeping sales buoyant as the company works furiously to plug the SUV model gaps above the below the car's place in the showroom.

Priced from £22,510, the new Tiguan is based on the same platform that already underpins everything from Polo and Golf to the larger Touran and Passat, and no doubt a still secret SUV or two.

The car that sits on top is longer, wider and lower than before and, to these eyes, looks a far more stylish machine. It also has more head room, extra leg room in the rear and a bigger boot.

You might have bought the old Tiguan for its impeccable finish and the thoroughness of VW's engineering, but never for its looks. The new one has eye appeal to spare.

Inside, things tone down a bit. That's no bad thing when the way things work is more important than how glitzy they look. So the new Tiguan interior could be recognised as pure Volkswagen by an mild petrol head, even with the badges taped over.

That means clear instruments, sensible switches precisely where you expect them to be and a general attention to fit and finish that suggest an ability to withstand the rough and tumble of family life.

All seven of the Tiguan's engines meet the new stricter Euro 6 emissions rules, with diesels likely to take an overwhelming 90 per cent of sales.

Most popular of the lot will be the 150 horsepower version in a car fitted with all-wheel drive; the fact that a strong majority of Tiguan buyers tick the 4MOTION box shows this is a car who owners expect to get the tyres dirty from time to time - or tow something up to 2.5 tonnes.

We are offered five trim levels, from S, SE, SE Navigation to SEL and R-Line, topping out with a twin turbo 240 horsepower diesel at a yet to be decided price (above the current £36,375 190hp model that currently head the price chart.

Taking out a £32,010 Tiguan SEL 2.0 4MOTION automatic for a test drive, you first notice the instrument panel is really a high definition screen, with digitally drawn instruments and the ability to show the navigation system's mapping between speedo and rev counter. Very clever and very clear.

Then you get the car moving and discover it rides much better than expected on big 19ins alloy wheels that look good but usually do nothing for comfort. The Tiguan on roads so familiar you're braced for the bumps - that never came.

A cold start revealed the usual diesel grumbles but, quickly warmed through, the car settled down to a distant hum, the seven speed gearbox slurring changes smoothly and with enough pulling power to make the thought of hitching up a horse box no terror at all.

Journey's end showed 44.1mpg on the dash, a figure that had been improving with every mile put under the Tiguan's tyres.

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