In the market for a family hatchback that can tackle a bit of the slippery stuff and tug a load about? VW’s new Tiguan might be the answer as Nick Fone reports
Ever wondered what you’d get if you crossed a tiger with an iguana?
Probably not, but it’s obviously a question that Volkswagen’s marketing department has been grappling with.
Inexplicably they have combined the two to come up with the name for the brand’s latest 4×4 cross-over vehicle – the Tiguan.
The truth is that it’s probably more like a Labrador/goldfish cross – a dependable companion that looks and does exactly what’s expected of it.
If you are familiar with VW’s other 4×4 – the Touareg – you’ll instantly recognise the styling. In fact, park the Tiguan next to some small shrubs, squint at it from a distance and you would be forgiven for mistaking one for the other.
Six-speed auto and manual boxes plus 2-litre turbo diesel and 1.4-litre petrol engines are all thrown in from VW’s universal parts bin, albeit with a few slight tweaks.
And the 4Motion four-wheel drive system cut its teeth with late ’90s Golfs, so it’s all pretty well-proven technology.
Rather than using levers or buttons to engage all four wheels in slippery spots, VW has opted for a system that automatically transfers power to the rear as required.
Although this sounds like a bit of a fudge, in reality it works really well. When the front wheels begin to spin there is a slight delay as the Haldex coupling – multi-plate clutch linking the rear wheels to the gearbox – progressively introduces drive to the rear.
Hitting the “Off-road” button in the centre console helps to make the Tiguan a more credible mud-flinger by adjusting the engine’s electronic controls to moderate acceleration and avoid losing traction.
It also activates a cross-axle braking system that slows wheels as they start to slip and can also provide an automatic hill-descent control. But there’s no fun in that.
Getting back to the tarmac, the Tiguan drives much like a Golf, handling well with little body roll, but it lacks a bit in the sparky performance department.
So will this make a good farm car?
Even sporting slick road tyres, the Tiguan sloshed through a muddy off-road track with no complaints at all. A remarkable performance for a car that is destined to be tagged as “soft-roader”.
Add to that a surprisingly big 2.5t towing capacity – nearly matching the Nissan’s Navara pick-up – and it has the potential to cut it with the best of them. Although, at over £20,000, a “proper” 4×4 might look more attractive if you want full-time off-road action.
VW Tiguan Escape TDi
Engine 140hp, 2-litre common-rail turbo diesel
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Driveline Auto-engaged 4wd
Towing capacity 2.5t
Price £22,050 (on-the-road)
Auto parking system
The Tiguan can be ordered with VW’s new £450 automatic parallel parking system. Unnervingly, it steers the car into a space without intervention from the driver. See video below for a demonstration.