2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Facelift Assessment, check drive
VW’s flagship SUV goes from seven to five seats and is also getting a facelift. Has it found its sweet spot this time?
In case you’ve lost sight of the Volkswagen Tiguan (not to be confused with the smaller Taigun), here is a brief summary. It was a 5-seater diesel premium SUV that was assembled in India and launched in 2017 and touted by VW as a cheaper alternative to compact luxury SUVs such as the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. When the BS6 standards rolled around, VW discontinued it and replaced it with its 7-seater brother, the Tiguan Allspace. Except that this was a CBU import and replaced the diesel engine for a 2.0 TSI petrol engine. And now, at the end of 2021, the 5-seater version is returning, replacing the Allspace at the top of VW India’s pecking order. It will be reassembled on site and has retained the 7-seater’s petrol engine but also received a facelift. Up to speed? Good.
It does it discreetly
Changes to the rear include more chrome, revised taillights and “Tiguan” in the center of the tailgate.
The big update on the outside is in the front. Gone are the blocky headlights, grille, and bumper, and in their place there’s a more fluid, we say more emotional, design that parallels the newer VWs. The headlights extend along the flanks like the temples of sunglasses and inside you will find the new DRL signature and ‘IQ Light’ beams – VW Speak for Matrix adaptive LED headlights. There’s a lot more chrome in the grille this time around and even something in the front bumper. On the sides, it’s the same straight-lined, crease-resistant profile as before, with the exception of a new design for the 18-inch alloy wheels. And finally there are newly profiled LED taillights at the rear, more chrome in the bumper and the Tiguan type plate has now moved to the center of the tailgate. Also noticeable is the new, two-dimensional VW logo incorporated all around.
IQ Matrix LEDs part of a dramatic front overhaul;
Inside, too, the basic design of the cabin is largely unchanged. It’s still an all-black cabin that many will find a bit boring, but it’s also incredibly well built. Fit and workmanship are almost flawless and almost every surface feels soft. What has changed? There’s the new generation VW steering wheel that feels like a long overdue upgrade to the old steering wheel that has been around for about a decade. You now receive a digital 10-inch instrument (like in the Allspace) with three configurable displays, the 8.0-inch touchscreen uses the new VW operating system and the gear selector switch has also been redesigned. The USB ports are all Type-C now, and this time you can choose a color (out of 30) for the ambient lighting.
Yes, it’s black and matte, but you can’t fault the quality. New steering wheel a welcome addition.
One change we’re not too keen on is the move from rotary knobs to touch panels for AC control; they are distracting when used on the go. Other standout features include heated leather seats (ventilated would have been ideal), three-zone climate control, on- and off-road driving modes, and a panoramic sunroof, but what we would also have liked to see at this price point is a 360-degree camera and wireless charging of the phone.
Touch AC controls a pain in motion.
The molded seats front and rear can feel a little tight for larger frames but are very comfortably padded. The space in the back seats is still plentiful, and the thighs even offer plenty of support from the seats. However, a medium-sized passenger will find it difficult and will struggle with a large center console between their feet. In addition, you can adjust the angle of inclination of the seat and slide the bench forwards or backwards to free up more luggage space if necessary. With 615 liters and the option of folding the backrest in a 40:20:40 ratio, not.
Huge in space and comfortable too; The angle of inclination of the backrest can be adjusted individually.
To the green pump
As with any VW group car in India, the updated Tiguan is gasoline only, and it’s largely for the best that they opted for the 2.0 TSI instead of the 1.5 TSI, though you can have it overseas with the smaller engine. Not only does this give you a solid 190 hp and 320 Nm to play with, but it also helps differentiate the Tiguan from its smaller siblings Taigun and T-Roc. However, we say ‘largely’ for the best, because if you are not extremely careful, this engine can have a drinking problem, as we have observed with the Allspace and Skoda Superb. This despite the use of engine stop-start and engine decoupling while sailing, and although we didn’t do an instrumented fuel efficiency test, it performed slightly better than the Allspace and cracked the 10 cpl mark in mixed driving.
Aside from that, however, it is a fine engine in the style of many large TSIs that have existed before. The Tiguan even feels a bit livelier and lighter than its Allspace sibling, and in a quick performance test it managed 0-100 km / h in less than 8.5 seconds (it even has launch control). Don’t confuse this with a decidedly sporty engine, however, because it isn’t. Yes, the DSG gearbox can be shifted quickly as always, but the 2.0 TSI in this form doesn’t like to be stretched too much and is more comfortable at eight tenths (also helps with fuel consumption). So driven, you will appreciate the lush middle class and the improved smoothness compared to the diesel.
The all-encompassing driving comfort of the Tiguan absorbs everything at almost any speed.
This tempo also reminds you of the sound-dynamic package it is. There’s this brilliant European solidity with which it goes about its business, and just behind a touch of subliminal solidity there is an all-conquering ride quality. The high 55-profile tires around 18-inch wheels, combined with a sturdy suspension, can absolutely withstand the worst Indian roads. Changing riding modes doesn’t affect the suspension, but neither do you; The standard setup is just that good. The suspension also provides good body control when cornering, and the AWD system also offers a lot of grip, but like with the engine, you don’t want to push too hard. That’s because, while the steering is sharp enough for everyday use, it won’t persuade you to take a spirited ride, and this is ultimately a big, heavy SUV more focused on comfort.
‘Guan for consideration
While it was cheaper than luxury brand SUVs, the old Tiguan was an expensive proposition compared to its premium SUV competitors. Four years later, this new impression does not change anything. At Rs 31.99 lakh (ex-showroom, India), it’s outside the league of Compass and Tucson and instead beats it with the likes of the Citroen C5 Aircross. Plus, with a gasoline engine, you don’t exactly recoup the sticker price over time with running costs. Yes, at current gasoline prices, that thirsty engine will likely influence your purchase decision. But if that’s okay with you, you get a premium SUV that does almost everything close to perfect. It’s luxurious, well-made, well-equipped, comfortable, refined, spacious, and even pretty decent to drive. In fact, it still keeps the promise VW made – it’s pretty much everything you’d expect in a luxury SUV, at a (slightly) lower price point.
Volkswagen Tiguan facelift video test