By Mike Torpey on 2018-01-11 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Volkswagen steps up
VOLKSWAGEN has kicked off the New Year with a double dose of sensibility in the shape of its Tiguan Allspace derivative.
If you thought the existing Tiguan crossover was near perfect for its practicality, well the model has taken on a new dimension - at the same time plugging a hole in German brand's SUV line-up.
Slipping effortlessly into the gap between its Tiguan stablemate and the larger Touareg, the Allspace has a longer wheelbase and a greater overall length than its sibling.
The extra size of course comes with a higher price, an entry level tab of £29,370 compared to the regular Tiguan's £23,250, though the discrepancy for identical trim grades narrows the difference to £2,645.
Car companies like to use millimetres when they describe increases in length, width or height, which is understandable because tiny gains can be very significant.
So while a length of 4,701mm long for the Allspace as opposed to 4,486mm is only a little over 2cms it definitely makes a difference.
To the point that a third row of fold-flat occasional seats - for small children - allows the newcomer to carry up to seven people and still boast a luggage capacity of 230 litres.
Or, with five people in the car, the figure leaps to 700 litres, representing an increase of 85 litres.
And that middle row can be slid forward and back by 180mm as well as fold flat.
The range is made up of three trim grades - SE Navigation, SEL and R-Line - all high spec given that Allspace is expected to only account for 15 per cent of total Tiguan sales.
And each includes the likes of 18-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors and 3Zone climate control, VW's Discover Navigation infotainment set-up with 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, sat-nav, DAB radio, CD player and Bluetooth smartphone connection.
The regular Tiguan is already a car that prioritises safety and in the Allspace it is also paramount, with driver assistance systems like Adaptive Cruise Control - which tracks the speed of the car ahead and automatically accelerates and brakes the Allspace while keeping a safe gap ahead - as well as Lane Assist, Front Assist and City emergency braking.
If sporty styling cues, lowered suspension, bigger wheels or panoramic sunroof are on your tick list, then the SEL or R-Line variants are the ones to go for.
Otherwise engine options are similar to the Tiguan and start with the 1.4-litre TSI ACT engine which develops 150PS and features Active Cylinder Technology.
It works by means of two of the four cylinders shutting down when the car is cruising to save fuel.
A second petrol option is the 2.0-litre 180PS TSI unit, available exclusively with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
Diesels comprise a trio of 2.0-litre turbocharged engines, with peak power outputs of 150, 190 and 240PS, the former offering a choice of front-wheel drive or 4MOTION plus six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearboxes.
Volkswagen is predicting diesel to be the top seller when cars hit the road in the next few weeks, and with that in mind the models available for the press launch based at the Woburn Sculpture Galley in Bedfordshire were all oil-burners.
Strong performance and trademark Volkswagen engineering and dynamics combine to make the diesels engaging vehicles to drive, the 150PS variants we drove returning within 8mpg of the official figures of 55.4 for the 2WD variant and 47.9mpg of the 4MOTION model.
Of the more powerful versions, the 190PS Allspace is extremely spirited, with a top speed of 130mph and capable of accelerating from 0-62 in 8.6 seconds, while the 240PS BiTDI engine has a top speed of 142mph and 0-62 in 6.7 seconds.
All models equipped with all-wheel drive, which start at Â£33,115 for the 2.0-litre 150PS six-speed manual SE Navigation model, include 4MOTION Active Control, a switch that allows the driver to activate one of four driving modes - Onroad, Snow, Offroad and Offroad Individual - and tunes the transmission to meet prevailing conditions.
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