Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


Facelift gives popular Volkswagen Tiguan added appeal

Easy to see why this Volkswagen has managed to stand tall on South Africa’s booming SUV landscape.


When the Volkswagen Tiguan made its South African debut in 2008, it was one of only two SUVs offered locally by the German manufacturer alongside the bigger Touareg. Fast forward to 2021, and the facelift second generation Tiguan recently arrived in a now healthily stocked Volkswagen SUV stable. Wolfsburg’s local SUV family has over the last 13 years swollen to five with the addition of the seven-seater Tiguan Allspace and the smaller duo of the T-Cross and T-Roc. This number could even expand to six should the coupe-styled T-Cross called the Taigo find its way to Mzansi. World goes gaga…

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When the Volkswagen Tiguan made its South African debut in 2008, it was one of only two SUVs offered locally by the German manufacturer alongside the bigger Touareg. Fast forward to 2021, and the facelift second generation Tiguan recently arrived in a now healthily stocked Volkswagen SUV stable.

Wolfsburg’s local SUV family has over the last 13 years swollen to five with the addition of the seven-seater Tiguan Allspace and the smaller duo of the T-Cross and T-Roc. This number could even expand to six should the coupe-styled T-Cross called the Taigo find its way to Mzansi.

World goes gaga for SUVs

And it’s not only within VW ranks that the latest version of the Tiguan has newfound company. Since the Tiguan’s initial arrival, the overall selection of SUVs on offer across all manufacturers – direct rivals and flanking those on either side – has probably increased tenfold.

Instead of getting lost in the crowd, the Tiguan has stood tall. Not only in its own stable, but also in the whole of the industry. In July and August, the first two months of the new model’s availability, it managed to outsell all its SUV siblings including the much more affordable T-Cross.

ALSO READ: Facelift Volkswagen Tiguan spoiling for a fight

The 992 units sold during these two months makes the Tiguan Wolfburg’s third best-selling product behind the ever-popular Polo and Polo Vivo pairing which always tops the overall charts for top two passenger cars. In the process, the Volkswagen Tiguan also gave any like-for-like rival a bloody nose.

How did the Tiguan manage this? The short answer is through sheer class. Wolfsburg definitely followed the mantra of “if ain’t broke, don’t fix” in updating a version that debuted locally in 2016. Let’s rather call it a refresher.

Subtle style enhancers

On the outside these include tweaked head and taillights, a new grille and redesigned front and rear bumpers. The 1.4 TSI R-Line we recently had on test also features sportier cosmetic touches, albeit at a premium. The addition of the R means the base model’s price is elevated by R123 500 to R644 500.

The exterior R-Line specific upgrades include tailpipes clad in chrome, 19-inch alloy wheels and a bootlid spoiler.

facelift Volkswagen Tiguan
Revisions to the rear facia smaller than at the front.

The freshen-up approach continues inside of the VW Tiguan with a more modern climate control panel and 30-colour ambient lightning package. R-Line grading includes a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and very comfortable Vienna leather seats.

Further creature comforts in our tester which come at an optional premium included a 9.2-inch infotainment system (R18 000), ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system (R11 400) and Head-Up Display (R10 500). It is worth noting that the Head-Up Display is projected through a screen that extends up from the dash and not on the windscreen, which limits the idea in our opinion, but kudos to Volkswagen for at least providing the option.

No turn for the knob

A thing we did miss in the otherwise modern cabin is an old fashioned volume knob that sister marque Audi has so religiously stuck to even in its most space-age designs. You can adjust volume in the Volkswagen Tiguan on the steering wheel and on the touchscreen infotainment system, but it does not quite beat

One area we felt could have benefitted with a more substantial upgrade was the power department. Sporting the 1.4 TSI petrol engine that has done duty since its previous generation, the Volkswagen Tiguan could have done with more urge to match its good looks.

Sluggish starter

The four-pot mill sends 110kW/250N to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG transmission. While its pulling power is more than adequate to cope with daily demands, an initial sluggishness off the line won’t be anyone’s cup of tea. Opting for the Sport drive mode does not ease the turbo lag before higher rpms delivers the torque and those looking for a sportier ride will have to strongly consider the 2.0 TSI alternative.

Our constant effort for better acceleration also resulted some unflattering fuel consumption. Even though we clearly made no attempt to drive it economically, we felt that 11.0L/100 km over the course of 449 km in average city conditions was rather high for a 1.4-litre engine pulling along a very light load.

facelift Volkswagen Tiguan
Optional 9.2-inch infotainment system gains standard satellite navigation.

Handling we couldn’t fault as the Volkswagen Tiguan is as solid on the road as ever with a suspension suitable to tackle most of our poorest roads. A turning circle of 11.5 meters makes it easy to park, made an easier with the superb optional Area View Camera System which is worth every cent of its R14 000 price tag.

Top notch safety

Another optional extra that elevates the Volkswagen Tiguan to another level is the IQ Drive at R10 500. It includes adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and a great addition to an already good list of standard safety features.

The cabin is big enough to keep four adults comfortable for long trip with the 520-litre boot ready to gobble up the luggage for their holiday.

Conclusion

It’s not hard to see why the Volkswagen Tiguan has held its own in the booming SUV market. It’s a classy offering that feels well-built in typical VW mould.

Even though we felt Wolfsburg missed a chance with the engine, we felt that the overall upgrades are enough to keep a good product as relevant as possible. You could argue that all the optional extras hike the overall price too much, but it does contribute to giving the VW Tiguan some serious expensive car attributes.

The updated Volkswagen Tiguan looks good, feels good and gets you to your destination in comfort. Come to think of it, overall it’s an extremely well-rounded package.

For more information on the Volkswagen Tiguan, click here.

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