VW Tiguan R-Line

Ex-Golf GTI donk adds sizzle to ageing SUV

NATHAN PONCHARD

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

SEVEN years is a long time on the market these days, even in SUV terms, but Volkswagenís evergreen Tiguan wonít be held down. Even in 2014, it managed down. Even in 2014, it managed to shift an impressive 6604 units, its second best year on record.

With an all-new Tiguan family still at least a year away, Volkswagen has attempted to maintain the current Tiguanís lustre by revising the Aussie model line-up to enhance value and showroom appeal.

On sale since last November, the base Tiguan 118TSI six-speed manual front-driver is currently $27,990 driveaway, including rear parking sensors and reversing camera, upgraded multimedia with 6.5-inch touchscreen, and a clever XDL front diff that brakes an inside wheel in corners to reduce understeer.

Next rung up the Tiguan ladder is the revised 132TSI 4Motion ($36,990) with 17s, Alcantara-clad comfort sports seats, dark rear window tint, and extra chrome embellishment, but itís the identically equipped 130TDI 4Motion diesel ($39,990) that introduces genuine change, scoring an upgraded engine with an extra 27kW/60Nm, and a reduction in fuel consumption to 6.2L/100km (down 0.2).

The 4Motion system only sends 10 percent of drive to the rear in normal running but can direct almost 100 percent back there if it needs to, hence why the dieselís chubby 380Nm (flat from 1750 to 2500rpm) always hits home. Combined with impressive packaging and capable dynamics, the 130TDI is arguably the most sensible Tiguan variant.

If you donít mind coughing up another $5K, though, VW Oz now offers a Tiguan R-Line, running the same 155kW/280Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol as the old Mk6 Golf GTI, with the same fuel consumption rating as the lesser 132TSI. It also gets Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC), which isnít available on other R-Line models (see sidebar), as well as 18s, a bodykit, leather, sat-nav, and an R-Line wheel and shift paddles.

While the Tiguan R-Line doesnít feel as lithe and crisp as a Golf GTI, thereís still much to like.

A strong, syrupy engine that extends to 6700rpm, combined with a solid-feeling chassis and plenty of grip means the warm Tiguan would be a hard car to shake on twisty roads.

ACC works best in Normal, delivering enough steering meat to complement the suppleness and adjustability from the chassis.

The firmer Sport mode somehow feels less involving.

While the decade-old interior and overly familiar silhouette might put some people off, itís hard to ignore the ongoing strengths and enhanced value of this highly successful SUV. s

PLUS & MINUS

Dumpy styling; smallish boot; dated dash; too heavy Excellent engine; grippy chassis; well-packaged cabin; value

R-Line dancing

IF YOU want the R-Line look and donít want the whole hog, you can add a $2500 R-Line package to either the Tiguan 132TSI or 130TDI.

Besides badging, theyíre externally identical to the proper R-Line, though they get regular sports suspension instead of adaptive dampers, and Alcantara/cloth trim, not leather facings.

An R-Line package is also available on Beetle (for $2000, manual or auto) and Golf Highline ($2200, TSI or TDI, hatch or wagon), each with sports suspension set-ups tuned by R GmbH Ė the division responsible for Golf R, Scirocco R and the like.

But the tastiest of all is the Touareg V8 TDI R-Line. At $114,990 the flagship Touareg isnít cheap, but its beautifully finished interior and rumbly diesel V8 are moreish.