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.

Hop in and it’s all standard VW fare blue backlit dash and uninspiring, but inoffensive trim are shared with standard Golf and Passat road-goers.

Tiguan-main

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
or auto

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.