VW went mad and did a Tiguan R
The ultimate sensible family SUV just received the engine of the Golf R
The Volkswagen Tiguan is not exactly the car that you would associate to the word "performance". One of the families' most preferred SUVs is better known for its practicality, sensible price, and comfort than anything else. However, yet again the brand from Wolfsburg has decided to get weird! They have transformed their family-friendly crossover in a powerhouse equipped with the Golf R's latest engine. Logically, they have named it the Tiguan R and even though we didn't expect much before driving it, it had a few surprises in store.
Do fast SUVs make sense? I think we can all agree that... not really. I don't see how anyone will ever be able to justify that you need such car. SUVs are usually not a great start if you're trying to build a proper sports car. The center of gravity is higher, the body is heavier, and the aerodynamics are pretty catastrophic. Therefore, sticking a high performance engine in a reasonably-priced crossover does not seem to be the brightest idea on paper. But since the launch of the T-Roc Cabriolet, Volkswagen has prepared us for everything. A part of me thinks, how bad can it actually be? The Tiguan is a good car, and sticking an excellent engine in it cannot be such a bad cocktail. Then, there is another part of my brain thinking "well everything is just wrong with that car". There was only one way to figure it all out and that was to drive it!
But first, what is exactly this car about? To make it short it's a beefed up Tiguan that comes with more power and equipment as standard. Aesthetically, the changes over the regular car are not very noticeable, especially when you have the R-Line trim next to it. Yes, you get more prominent front and rear bumpers, bigger wheels (you can go all the way up to 21 inches), sportier brakes, and four exhaust pipes at the back (you can also tick the titanium Akrapovic option for CHF 3'700.- / £3'000!). Yes, you've read that well, all of that on a Tiguan! Has it lost its way trying to be a hot hatch?
Starting at CHF 65'700.- (£52'000), it's about CHF 6'000.- more than a Golf R, but the price can go up very quickly. Our press car cost CHF 83'687.- (£66'000), and came with expensive options such as Nappa leather seats, a panoramic roof, a head up display, a very cool Lapiz Blue metallic exterior paint, as well as huge 21'' Estoril wheels. However, being an "R", there also quite a lot of equipment that comes as standard such as the IQ matrix head and taillights, a torque vectoring system, adaptive dampers, heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start, rear-view camera, electric boot lid, and an R-specific digital cockpit. Therefore, I'd say that you get quite a lot for your money. Apart from that, the Tiguan R remains a Tiguan so the exterior design is pretty inconspicuous and the cabin is in line with what Volkswagen has accustomed us to. There is enough room to welcome your small family and their luggage, the built-quality is great, the materials are decent, and the latest infotainment system is up to modern standards, even though we know that its software can be a bit glitchy from time to time (something all VWs are struggling with at the moment).
But the big question is how does it drive? Surprisingly, it's a great car to drive. I was amazed by the amount of grip the Tiguan R manages to find in corners. Yes, it may be less engaging and fun than a Golf R, but I still think Volkswagen did a phenomenal job despite the extra 200 kg and higher center of gravity. The sporty SUV is really fast and will go from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds and hit a limited top speed of 250 km/h. Not bad for a Tiguan. I still don't really understand the purpose of such vehicle, but at least it performs well. Also, I must say that the optional Akrapovic exhaust system adds some extra drama to the driving experience. You can also switch between different driving modes (Comfort, Sport, and Race), to optimize the ride and responsiveness of the car depending on your mood. I left it in Sport mode most of the time, as it is rightly balanced between responsiveness and comfort.
The Tiguan R was a better sporty SUV than I thought however, I still don't understand who will buy this car. Buyers might argue that the Tiguan R is more versatile and roomy than the Golf R, and they would be right. But the upcoming Golf Variant R also has these benefits and probably drives better. Isn't that the whole point of why you'd buy a Volkswagen R? Because you like driving? There is also this phenomenon of SUV popularity that comes into account, but then again I do not think that the Tiguan is the hypest crossover around. An extra element that buyers could point out is the fact that the Tiguan is better once it hits unpaved roads. Yes, but no! How often do Tiguan buyers go off-roading? In fact I found myself in a very tricky situation with this press car, and the 4Motion system was not very helpful. Indeed, on a cloudy Sunday I decided to drive with the car up to the mountains to go for a hike. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours, it started pouring rain and the parking lot on which the Tiguan was parked on turned to mud. Yes, the car got stuck and it took several minutes of back and forth accelerations to get out. You can see the results of this misadventure in the gallery above. Unfortunately, Volkswagen had to replace two highly scratched rims and give the chassis a proper clean up. Again, a huge sorry to VW if they are reading this. The moral of the story is, don't go off-roading in a Tiguan R. I didn't and still got stuck. Just hit a mountain pass, have fun, and drag your family along!
VW Tiguan R