VW Tiguan R-Line road test review | Spirited SUV drive
WHEN my father-in-law bought a VW Tiguan a couple of years ago, the first question I asked him was why didn't he just get a Golf?
With kids all flown the coop and off-roading a rarity, I thought VW's sublime hatch would be ideal - but no, the Tiguan came out on top.
I've nothing against the small SUV, it's just that the Golf is so damn good in practically every area I'd find it hard walking out of a VW dealership with anything but the award-winning hatch.
But the SUV-loving wife's dad said it was all about the Tiguan's excellent headroom, road visibility thanks to its elevated position and its ability to tow, when he finally gets his boat.
Fair points all, but I did suggest that VW's baby SUV was a tad on the plain side, especially when parked beside my (admittedly daftly impractical) bright red Mk1 Audi TT I owned at the time.
My arguments against Tiguan shopping are wearing even thinner now with the introduction of the 155TSI R-Line version to Australia, and I was able to grab a quick test of the flagship Tiguan the day it arrived on the Sunshine Coast.
I stand by my opinion that VW hardly broke new ground with the Tiguan's design, but in R-Line guise as here it certainly has the road presence one would expect of a range-topper.
Colour-coding so the side skirts and lower parts of the bumpers match the body make it look far more road warrior than soft-roader, and chrome highlights for the side mouldings, window frames, roof rails and fog light surrounds stand out strikingly against the black body.
Throw in tinted windows and very sporty 18-inch Mallory alloys shod in low profile rubber and any sense of blandness is left behind. It looks purposeful, premium and as sporting as you could ask of a little SUV.
Leather and toys
Customers shopping in the $50,000 market demand luxury, and the R-Line package does the business in the Tiguan's already attractively functional interior.
Vienna leather appointed seat upholstery is nicely stitched with R-Line logos to remind the driver and passenger that this is no ordinary Tiguan, while a 16.5cm touch screen is now standard across all Tiguans for the 2015 model year.
R-Line buyers receive complimentary sat nav with voice control, adaptive traffic control, low tyre pressure warning, auto rain-sensing wipers and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel.
And responding to the market, all Tiguans for 2015 feature a rear-view camera, rear sensors and a driver fatigue detection system.
On the road
The R-Line is targeted at more spirited drivers. An upgrade unique to this model is its adaptive chassis control, where the suspension adjusts itself depending on the mode selected via the car's Driving Profile Selection.
Common on many performance vehicles, It allows the driver to keep settings quite comfortable for cruising, but the suspension stiffens noticeably in Sport mode if you find yourself flinging the SUV through more testing turns.
The system works well, and even in its Comfort setting the Tiguan's on-road manners are reasonably car-like for an SUV. The R-Line's skinny tyres and larger wheels do send a few more shocks through the cabin on the uneven stuff, but when in Sport mode on decent tarmac the R-Line is a fun steer.
I won't pretend the Tiguan is Golf-like with its top-heavy nature, but it isn't half bad for a family SUV thanks to its Golf-derived chassis.
It doesn't feel an especially fast car, but figures suggest otherwise. The 155kW R-Line hits 100kmh in 7.3-seconds, - nothing to be sniffed at - making it over a second quicker to the ton than any 'normal' Golf (anything without a GTI or R badge).
Power delivery is incredibly smooth through the 7-speed DSG box, and the R-Line gets up to speed serenely and almost too quietly, perhaps disguising how quickly it does so.
Dimensions are unchanged in this or any other Tiguan for the 2015 model year, so space is nothing to rejoice over, but is as expected for a small SUV. If you need a really decent sized boot you'll have to look elsewhere.
Considering the R-Line's performance its economy figure of 8.8-litres/100km is decent, and during my test I returned exactly that which is a rarity in these days of fudged figures.
It's the Tiguan with the looks demanded of a flagship model
The R-Line styling and tweaks have previously not been available on the baby SUV, so paired with the 155TSI engine's impressive performance it makes for a desirable package.
Crammed with toys, luxury and a sporting bent helps the R-Line justify its $50,000 drive-away price, but considering you can get in a DSG auto Tiguan (the boggo 118TSI) for $20,000 less, owners will want to make sure they appreciate the extra technology and performance.
But even if they don't, of all the Tiguans this is the one to enjoy looking at in the driveway.
Model: 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan 155TSI R-Line.
Details: Five-door small all-wheel drive SUV.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder TSI generating 155kW @ 5300rpm and 280Nm @ 1700rpm.
Transmission: 7-speed DSG.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 7.3 seconds.
Consumption: 8.8-litres/100km (combined).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $44,990