VW’s glad tidings of comfort and joy

A central console knob can select a number of pre-determined ambient audio and lighting settings. They are called Lounge, Energetic, Joy, Minimal and Me

Doctor on the Road: VW Tiguan

Volkswagen’s latest Tiguan offering is a great all-rounder for the ‘family’ doctor, reports Dr Tony Rimmer. 

Once car-makers find something that works well, they refine it over time. They develop a model that hits the mark and its success can be measured by public popularity and high sales figures.

One such model that VW got right, apart from the Golf, is the Tiguan. This medium-sized SUV was first launched in 2007 and its underpinnings were straight from the Golf Mark 5, current at that time. 

Seventeen years and seven million cars later, we now have the third-generation Tiguan, which sits on an updated platform borrowed from other current VW products that allows a much wider variance of powertrain and suspension settings.

Of particular note is a plug-in hybrid version that has a 148bhp electric motor and a 20kWh battery that allows up to 60 miles of silent, non-polluting travel if fully charged. 

Best of both worlds

Allied to a 1.5litre petrol engine, this would seem to give the best of both worlds, allowing pure EV local journeys and the petrol engine for long trips. 

As usual, this would only make sense if you have a wall charger fitted at home. Also, the extra few thousand pounds in price that the plug-in model commands may be hard to justify.

Although, surprisingly, VW still offers a 2.0litre diesel-powered Tiguan, the best and most sensible version for most medic families will be the mild-hybrid 150bhp 1.5litre model. 

There is no plug-in facility, but a 48-volt system provides an 18bhp power boost and instant torque when moving off. 

There are five trim levels to choose from and my test car was an Elegance model, which has all the important options included and feels a little more up-market. Although the new Tiguan starts at £34,075, this version costs £39,290.

More kerb appeal

So, first impressions. The somewhat boxy styling of the previous two versions has been softened and rounded for this Mark 3 iteration. This has, I think successfully, given the new Tiguan more kerb appeal particularly at the rear. 

Re-designed external lights help the situation and it is noteworthy that VW’s excellent LED Matrix headlight system is available as an option. 

Step inside and the improvements to the interior are obvious. 

Volkswagen has been criticised over recent years for a reduction in the perceived quality of the interior trim of most of their cars, but this Tiguan seems to have made a positive move in the right direction. 

Softer-feel plastics and a larger 12.9-inch infotainment screen help; as does a welcome return to some tactile physical controls instead of everything having to be accessed via the touchscreen.

‘Driver experience switch’ 

This is the first Volkswagen to offer its new ‘driver experience switch’. This is a central console knob that can select a number of pre-determined audio and ambient lighting settings depending on your mood. 

The boot is one of the biggest in this class of car

They are called Lounge, Energetic, Joy, Minimal and Me. I am still undecided as to whether these really add to the driving and passenger experience or if they are just, well, a gimmick. 

The driving position is good, the front seats are comfortable and rear-seat passengers are treated rather well too. Plenty of headroom and knee room means that a family of five can journey in comfort. 

The hatchback opens a boot space that is one of the biggest in this class of car, so the need for a roof-box on family holidays is reduced significantly.

Sprightly feel

Out on the road, the new Tiguan thankfully drives in a typical Volkswagen way. The controls are direct and positive, the engine has a sprightly feel and the DSG gearbox shifts smoothly and effortlessly. 

Handling is pretty well controlled, but this is not a keen drivers car. A bit too much body roll and a surprisingly unsettled ride takes the edge off a swift drive along one of my favourite B-roads. 

It is fine as a motorway cruiser – wind and road noise are adequately suppressed albeit not to premium-class levels.

So, the latest Tiguan continues where the previous Mark 2 left off. It is a great all-rounder for any family. It is well made, has a good brand image, is versatile and is reasonable value.

There is still a lot of life left in the internal combustion engine car, particularly using mild-hybrid technology as in this version of the Tiguan. A real-world 40mpg and the absence of any range anxiety is not to be ignored.

Dr Tony Rimmer (right) is a former NHS GP practising in Guildford, Surrey