IF you saw a five-year-old Volkswagen Tiguan in good condition on the road you might think
IF you saw a five-year-old Volkswagen Tiguan in good condition on the road you might think there goes a pretty good car.
And you would be right — the Tiguan is a well-proportioned, comfortable, finely engineered, medium-sized SUV (sport utility vehicle) that has sold well since its launch in 2007.
Indeed, during that period overall sales of Tiguans have reached 2.8 million, with more than 100,000 being sold in the UK since it went on sale here in 2008.
But a five-year-old Tiguan? Surely, that’s an eternity these days — especially in a multi-billion-pound global industry such as car manufacture.
Five years is forever because in just about every other facet of 21st century life providing what’s “new” is paramount.
The demands of our modern culture are such that carmakers are, like everyone else, obliged to remodel and reinvent.
So this week’s drive is a new 2016 Tiguan — new from the ground up as they say in the business.
The new Tiguan made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015.
You could order one in Britain from May of this year, and deliveries to customers began this summer.
So whatever you might have thought about the last incarnation of this car, the new one is here and the old one is a model for posterity.
With the thoroughness expected of the German car giant — now more than ever on its mettle in the eyes of the world — the new Tiguan has a range of improvements and innovations that take it way beyond its predecessor.
Volkswagen would have it no other way. So for a start you get an entirely new look.
The new Tiguan is lower, wider and longer with more interior space and what Volkswagen calls a “dynamic new look”.
This new look is a conscious effort on Volkswagen’s part to give the brand an “independent” and “distinctive” SUV character.
There is more headroom inside and up to 29mm more rear knee room than previously. When the rear bench is folded the cargo space, at 1,655 litres, is 145 litres larger than before.
There are seven new engines to choose from, “all more powerful and more fuel-efficient than the comparable EU5 engines of the previous model”.
Volkswagen says that diesel-engined models are expected to account for around 90 per cent of new Tiguan sales.
The new car is offered in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Navigation, SEL and R-Line. All models are well equipped with, for instance, 17-inch Montana alloy wheels standard on even the entry-level Tiguan.
This week I have been driving the Tiguan SEL 2.0 TDI 4MOTION.
I notched up about nine hours of driving in a short space of time, covering some 360 miles, on a mixture of fast dual-carriageway, motorway, major and B roads.
This is a route I have become familiar with in recent months between Cirencester in Gloucestershire and Wallingford near Henley.
The route provides a good test bed for any vehicle. These miles of driving were often peppered by challenging traffic conditions — if you travel on the A34 going north on any working day of the week you will know what I mean.
Yet I felt secure in the Tiguan. The bigger feel to the new version should go down well with any driver in Britain today because in challenging conditions you need to feel safe.
One great boon to driving I find these days is adaptive cruise control (ACC). On the Tiguan SEL model I was driving, this is a standard feature.
ACC is, to my mind, a prelude to us “driving” cars that drive themselves. On the motorway, for example, ACC is very valuable, safety-wise.
You set your cruising speed, say 70mph, and the car will keep you at that speed until it detects a vehicle in front, then it slows accordingly, leaving plenty of space for stopping in an emergency.
Tail-gating, where one car follows another much too closely, is like a national sport for too many UK drivers.
It is demonstrably unsafe and I am sure causes many accidents — as does using a hand-held mobile and texting. There will always be bad drivers but ACC could help to check their tendency to be irresponsible when on the road.
There was so much else to like about this car that I can only mention here a few “gems” — the seven-speed DSG auto transmission; the Discover Navigation system with eight-inch colour touchscreen; the DAB radio (I liked its clear and easy-to-read signage); the panoramic sunroof with LED ambient lighting, and the 3Zone electric air conditioning with automatic air recirculation.
I think those hours of driving would not have been half as bearable had this car not been equipped with Vienna leather upholstery with electrically adjustable lumbar support and front passenger seats with manual lumbar support.
This came under the heading “additional optional equipment” and would cost you an extra £1,475 — but I think completes the Tiguan in this model version.
I like serious carmakers who (seriously) consider the people they are designing and making cars for — that is, you and I, the car-buying public.
Our safety, comfort, and well-being should be catered for in equal measure.
And I think Volkswagen has achieved this goal with the new Tiguan.
• Engine: Transverse-mounted 2.0-litre common rail turbocharged four- cylinder diesel engine with four valves per cylinder. Fitted with DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction)
• Seven-speed DSG gearbox
• Four-wheel drive — 4MOTION
• CO2 emissions (g/km): 149
• Economy: combined cycle: 49.6mpg
• Tiguan is the first Volkswagen model to be offered with an active bonnet, which reduces the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists by lifting upward 50mm in the event of an impact