THERE is no escaping the glut of SUVs on our roads these days and few cars illustrate the incredible rise in popularity of these vehicles better than the Volkswagen Tiguan.
The first generation arrived on UK roads in 2008 and sales have steadily risen ever since, passing the 100,000 mark with a record high of nearly 22,000 in 2015.
That puts it behind only the Golf and Polo among its VW stablemates in the UK market - so big things will be expected of the all new Tiguan which went on sale in May.
The new car is the first Volkswagen SUV to sit on its parent group's modular MQB platform, which has already underpinned successful updated models such as the Golf, Passat and Touran.
This standard architecture has enabled the creation of a longer and wider Tiguan than the outgoing model which also rides lower and, thanks to sharp new design including a raked rear windscreen, looks much more dynamic than its upright, boxy predecessor.
This lines are cleaner and more angular while the way in which the headlights and grille line up across the nose and a higher waistline all create a classy but understated look.
The interior has also improved with more textured, soft touch surfaces to complement VW's typically functional design while the expanded external dimensions mean more space and practicality inside.
Rear legroom has increased as has headroom, despite the lower roofline, and there is ample space for five to get comfortable while touches like the flip-up tables with pop-out cup holders on the front seat backs help to make life easy for family users.
The rear bench slides forward and backwards by up to 18cm, while the seatback is split 40/20/40 with all sections folding flat individually. When the bench is slid all the way forwards, the boot offers 615 litres of space, an improvement of 145 litres, rising to 1,655 litres with the rear seats all folded down.
Powertrains include 1.4 and 2.0-litre petrol options but VW expects up to 90 per cent of buyers to go for diesel power, with a selection of 2.0-litre units available ranging from 115 up to 240ps.
The 150ps option I drove, paired with a smooth seven-speed automatic transmission and VW's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, offers more than adequate grunt for everyday driving and proves relaxed and refined both in town and on the open road.
And, given its increased size, the new Tiguan is surprisingly agile, responding promptly to the light steering and offering plenty of grip and very little body roll for an SUV.
Eco, normal and sport drive modes are available and if you flick it into sport it offers quite an entertaining drive, with throttle response and steering both sharpened up noticeably while the transmission holds on to gears a little longer under acceleration.
The 4MOTION system offers settings for adverse weather as well as automatic or variable off-road settings but if you are actually planning to go cross country the off-road body kit will cost you an extra £350.
This features a revised front end capable of tackling 24-degree approach angles as well as extra underbody protection and decorative chrome door sill protectors.
All new Tiguan's come pretty well equipped but the SEL spec car I drove sits just below the range topper and offers premium kit such as an eight-inch touchscreen multimedia interface with satnav; a 12-inch customisable driver information screen rather than the usual dials; climate control; heated front seats; parking sensors; panoramic sunroof; traction and stability control; Bluetooth and digital radio.
It might not be the cheapest, and it's neither the cleanest or most economical compact SUV on the road - but it's far from the worst either and the desirability of the VW badge remains a big draw.