Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


Plain Jane VW Tiguan Life turns out to be a keeper

This SUV carries an aura of German engineering that can't be matched by cheaper offerings.


To be brutally honest, The Citizen Motoring wasn’t wowed by the long-term VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Life which arrived back in May.

Our garage was bursting at the seams with test cars at the time. Very desirable ones, fast ones and sexy ones. The Volkswagen SUV slipped through the cracks with its Pure White paintwork and unassuming styling.

What a difference six months can make. It was with a heavy heart we handed back the keys of our Volkswagen this month.

VW Tiguan shines

It grew on every one of us and became such a trusty cornerstone, that it left a gaping hole in our garage.

In our profession, spending more than six months in one car is a long time. But a long-term stay provides the best test for living with it, because any prospective buyer is likely to keep it around for longer than that, barring unforeseen circumstances.

During its 6½-month stay, we racked up 10 536 km and put it through everything it is likely to face during its lifetime.

Motoring’s Charl Bosch took it on a road trip to the Eastern Cape, while two other colleagues used it for holiday getaways.

ALSO READ: Bread and butter VW Tiguan dazzles despite lack of bling

VW Tiguan cabin
A cabin is both sophisticated and simplistic. Picture: Charl Bosch

Comfortable interior

The rest of the time it was happy to bide its time between home, school, the office and the shops.
There is no shortage of comfort inside the VW Tiguan. The cabin feels well-built, although rather simplistic in this tech-happy age where less often proves more.

The optional Vienna leather trim provides a stylish, yet practical, finish which blends in well with the rest of the trimmings.

Leg and headroom in the second row are generous, with the 615-litre boot taking daily luggage in its stride and swallowing a four-member family’s holiday load with ease.

Features we really enjoyed were the standard electric tailgate and optional electric trailer hitch and area view camera.

ALSO READ: VW Tiguan meets Project 1021: The ancestor it never knew

Star of the show

The VW Tiguan Life’s four-cylinder 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine was one of the highlights. It sends 110 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque to the front wheels via six-speed DSG. These numbers seem small on paper in compared to its 2.0 TDI and 2.0 TSI siblings, but it proved more than adequate for any task.

VW Tiguan rear
The VW Tiguan Life comes standard with electric tailgate. Picture: Charl Bosch

The 9.7 seconds it took road test editor Mark Jones to reach 100km/h from a standstill at Gerotek was slightly more than VW’s claim of 9.2 sec, but still respectable.

The only thing we didn’t like was the initial turbo lag. When you approach hordes of load shedding-affected traffic lights as four-way stops and you don’t get off the mark straight away, that leaves the door open for impatient drivers to try and jump the sequence.

Smooth over gravel

While the VW Tiguan Life does not feature a four-wheel-drive system like its more expensive siblings, it is more than capable of taking on dirt roads, with a generous ground clearance of 191mm and chunky 235/55 R18 rubberware wrapped around its 18-inch allow wheels.

On the fuel consumption front, we are happy to report an overall economy rate of eight litres per 100km. This number means VW’s claim of 7.7 L/100 km is accurate, even in real world conditions.

The best we achieved for an open road trip was 7.1 litres per 100 km during Charl’s 2 000 km-plus round trip to Despatch. Heavy city traffic can see it go up into the nines.

700 km range

Depending on the amount of time its spends on the open road, you should look at a number of between eight and 8.5 L/100 km over its lifetime, which will give you a range of more than 700 km on its 58-litre fuel tank.

VW Tiguan wheel
Chunky rubberware ensured a smooth ride over gravel. Picture: Charl Bosch

In addition to standard safety features, which include traction control, stability control, anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and six airbags, our Tiggy was also featured the optional IQ Drive Package. This includes autonomous emergency braking front assist and adaptive cruise control, a handy feature on the open road.

At a base price of R697 000 which does not include optional extras, you could argue that less money will get you further in other stables. We can’t argue with that.

VW Tiguan rock-solid option

But, like Jones recently said in reviewing another VW SUV, “it carries that aura of German engineering and quality cheaper Chinese and Indian offerings can’t match”.

While those carmakers are bound to reach that level, which Kia and Hyundai are also at these days after rather humble beginnings, they are not there yet. And while they are figuring it out, good old German quality like the VW Tiguan will remain a rock-solid option.

The VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Life‘s price includes a three-year/100 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan. Service intervals are 15 000km.

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