Review: Volkswagen Tiguan

Still a leading choice in the congested SUV crossover market

10 Sep 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Lots of cabin space

  • Comfortable and classy interior

  • Hold their value well

Cons

  • Not as economical as rivals

  • Expensive to buy

  • Average-sized boot

Our expert rating

In 2007 Volkswagen decided to enter the crossover market with their compact Tiguan. Volkswagen's compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) quickly gained popularity and today it's still highly sought-after on the secondhand market.

Performance

The Tiguan is designed more for economy than out and out speed. Also, in spite of its 4x4 appearance, the VW isn’t really made for hard-core off-road use. That said, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which is available across the line-up, is a benefit in hazardous weather conditions.

But beware, 4x4 gadgetry does tend to use up more fuel, therefore running costs are higher. A slick six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all Tiguans, but an automatic gearbox on the larger petrol and diesel models may have been fitted as an option when bought new. The diesels make the most sense to aim for as they are more cultivated and present the best blend of performance and efficiency.

Back of a Volkswagen Tiguan

Ride and handling

The Tiguan is far from flawless to drive, but it isn’t unpleasant, either. While the firm suspension brings a rather uneasy ride at lower speeds, it calms down well at cruising speed to become a hassle-free and self-possessed car.

Interior space

This VW is a practical vehicle, with room for up to five people, and rear seats that slide to benefit legroom or boot space. At 505 litres, the load area isn’t the largest, but it’s a convenient, oblong shape, useful for carrying a pram.

Behind the wheel, you sit low down, and the dashboard is rationally laid out and assembled from high-quality materials. Also, all Tiguans come with a generous safety kit, including side and window airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts and stability control.

The Volkswagen Tiguan interior

What to know before you buy

The VW Tiguan is made up from many of the same parts as the excellent Golf. The popular Volkswagen Golf has a long established reliability record, so that’s a big tick in the box for the Tiguan. In spite of this, there have been problems with the automatic parking brake.

This can sometimes stick, especially when on a downhill gradient. This can cause harm if the engine hauls the car onward. Spare parts can be high-priced, so ensure no warning lights are showing on the car you’re looking at buying. Rear door handles have also been known to fuse in the unlocked position, preventing the doors from shutting properly.

This defect originates from a design weakness, which requires the doors to be disassembled and rectified under warranty. Ensure this has been done by asking the vendor and checking any paperwork the car has with it.

Also, make sure the air-conditioning wafts both cold and hot air, because gremlins have been known to affect the air-con's operating buttons rather than the more costly air-con gadgetry itself.

An alternative to the VW Tiguan is a Skoda Yeti

Alternative cars

Significant challengers include the Hyundai ix35, Škoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai. All are excellent, with the Hyundai, Kia and Nissan offering a smattering more kit as standard. The Škoda is a particularly good alternative because it’s also a member of the VW family.

Overall verdict

The Volkswagen badge means that the Tiguan holds on to its value, so it won’t be cheap to buy on the used market. However, when you come to sell again, you are likely to find the car will command a good price.

It may be getting on a bit, but the Tiguan is still a leading choice in the congested SUV crossover market. That’s of course, thanks to a wide model range, economical engines and a relatively civilised ride.

Expert review

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall