ONCE the Plain Jane of the crossover class, the current VW Tiguan shook off its cloak or ordinariness almost five years ago when it re-emerged as a genuine alternative to a BMW or an Audi.
Sharper styling, more space and improved driving dynamics pumped fresh life into the old, but well respected name.
Now, after a mid-life refresh, the medium-sized SUV is geared up to tackle the ballooning band of high riders that are continuing to engage with buyers.
With updated tech, revised engines and a few exterior tweaks, as well as a choice between diesel or petrol power, front and 4WD, and manual and auto transmission, it has the marketplace pretty well covered. A stretched version with seating for seven is also available.
We borrowed the 1.5 TSI version in 148bhp form - there's also a less powerful 128bhp model - with entry level Life trim. Even with a price tag of just under Â£28k, it presents a realistic challenge to its many rivals.
Built on the same platform as the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq, the Tiguan is a tad longer and those centimetres are put to good use in the cabin and boot, making it a genuine five seater with a cargo carrying capability - 520 litres - larger than several bigger crossovers.
With diesels currently out of favour to some degree, many buyers' focus fill fall on the 1.5litre petrol, particularly the 148bhp version which offers punchy performance without sacrificing much in terms of frugality. It's an energetic engine with an appetite for revs and an emphasis on refinement. Far smoother, in fact, than the rather gruff diesel range.
With a sub 10-second surge to 62mph, the VW is towards the front of the pack. The standard six speed gearbox is slick and light with a correspondingly pleasant clutch. This sort of readily available performance allied to reasonably firm yet compliant springing means that it's a satisfying car to drive enthusiastically.
Noise levels are generally low thanks to hushed mechanicals. There's some intrusion from tyres on Tarmac but minimal wind noise.
The interior is typical VW, smart but basic stuff with an emphasis more on function than style. The Life version is the entry model so you don't expect too much dash and flash, but it may still be a bit too sombre for some.
No problem, however, with the equipment level. Sat nav, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, radar sensing monitoring system, eight-inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all onboard helping to make it a thoroughly modern environment.
Most four-pot VW petrol engnes are fairly miserly and the Tiguan is no exception. Our average of 43mpg should be easily within reach of the majority of owners.