VW Tiguan 162TSI

A little GTI DNA in this family sized SUV

TONY OíKANE

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

EVER wondered what an SUV would look like in activewear? Ponder no more because here it is, the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI.

With the 162kW 2.0-litre turbo engine from the Golf GTI hot hatch slipped under the Tiguanís bonnet, hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive, Volkswagen has created a medium SUV that, on paper at least, looks like it should be more athletic than your average grocery-getting soft roader.

The on-paper numbers are promising. Though itís more than 300kg heavier than a Golf GTI, the Tiguan 162TSI manages to equal the 6.5sec 0-100km/h sprint time of its hatchback cousin. How? Thank the off-the-line traction of the 162TSIís 4Motion all-wheel-drive system and an extra gear ratio.

But in rolling acceleration, the quickest Tiguan lacks the willingness and verve of its hot-hatch sibling. The extra mass is definitely felt. Suddenly, it becomes apparent why this GTI-engined Tiguan doesnít bear a GTI badge of its own Ė itís quick, but ultimately not quick enough.

It doesnít sound like a GTI, either. There are hints of induction rort coming through the firewall, but most of the time that noise is drowned out by a diesel-like grumble that only disappears from the middle of the tacho and up.

The 162TSIís handling, however, is definitely up to snuff. Accurate steering and excellent body control combine with a well-sorted chassis to make the Tiguan 162TSI an SUV you can properly hustle. We only wish there was a little more grip from the all-season Pirelli rubber.

Electronically adjustable dampers come with an optional R-Line package (along with 20-inch alloys, a bodykit, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and more), and they alone make this $4000 spend a box worth ticking.

In Comfort mode the dampers almost completely dial out the brittleness associated with the R-Lineís guard-filling rolling stock (18-inchers are standard on the 162TSI Highline), while also introducing a smooth and compliant ride thatís worlds apart from the fussy nature of the standard fixed-rate dampers.

Variable-ratio steering is another key feature of the R-Line pack, reducing the amount of lock-tolock travel to a twirl-minimising two turns. Progressively decreasing in ratio the further you turn from centre, the steering is precise, well-weighted (in Normal mode anyway) and imparts an agile feel to the driving experience.

Better-sorted, faster and more broadly appealing than the Subaru Forester XT and Ford Escape Titanium Ė other mid-sized SUVs with vague aspirations of sportiness Ė the 162TSI R-Line is the new Tiguan at its finest.

PLUS & MINUS

Missing a GTI engine note; extra spend to get crucial adaptive dampers Pace; agility; stylish and high-quality interior; smart design; tech Model Motor Max power Max torque Transmission Weight Economy 0-100km/h Price On sale Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line 1984cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 162kW @ 4500-6200rpm 350Nm @ 1500-4400rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1637kg 8.1L/100km 6.5sec (claimed) $52,490 Now

Higher ground

The 162TSI comes in top level Highline grade as standard, and features the same niceties enjoyed by its diesel-engined 140TDI Highline counterpart.

Things like a powered tailgate, keyless entry and ignition, heated seats, leather upholstery, LED headlamps and 10GB of onboard music storage. And thatís on top of the Tiguan rangeís built-in virtues of standard autonomous emergency braking, a roomy rear seat and a sizeable 615-litre boot when you scooch the sliding rear bench forward.