Buyers looking for a mid-size SUV are spoilt for choice, with at least half a dozen top-notch options from the country’s most popular brands.
Volkswagen’s Tiguan has always been near the front of the pack but is it still the case?
The Tiguan range kicks off from about $47,200 drive-away and rises to about $65,500. Buyers can choose between three petrol engines and one diesel unit.
If you want more space there is the seven-seat Tiguan Allspace and if you want more performance, there’s the red-hot Tiguan R version priced at about $80,000 on the road.
We are testing the cheapest 110TSI Life variant. It comes with VW’s dependable 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine found in a variety of machines including the Golf small car.
That engine is matched to a six-speed dual-clutch auto and front-wheel drive. All other versions of the Tiguan have a seven-speed unit and all-wheel drive.
It’s a handsome SUV that comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, extensive chrome exterior highlights, LED lighting front and back and electronically folding side mirrors.
There is an eight-inch touchscreen – higher grades have a 9.2-inch unit – that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and satnav. Technophiles will appreciate the flashy 10.25-inch fully digital instrument display.
Volkswagen covers its cars with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and servicing will set you back more than $3300 over five years. If you buy a pre-paid service plan it’ll only cost $2600 over the same time.
The cabin is fairly spartan, as you’d expect from the cheapest version in the range, with manually adjustable cloth seats that are firm and provide ample support.
Hard-wearing plastic surfaces abound but a few textured inserts, a leather-wrapped gear shifter and a flat-bottomed steering wheel boost presentation.
There are three USB-C charging ports – two up front and one in the rear – but no wireless device charger.
Airconditioning controls in the centre dash are easy to access and use and both rows are covered by vents. Straightforward infotainment and safety controls are located on the steering wheel.
The cabin is extremely roomy and trumps rival machines from Mazda and Toyota. The back seat has excellent head, shoulder and leg room. A 615-litre boot is one of the largest in its class.
The suspension is on the firmer side with a tendency to crash over larger bumps but the cabin is relatively quiet.
The Tiguan covers all the necessary bases but misses out on some key items.
It’ll automatically brake if it detects a potential collision with a car or a pedestrian. A range of sensors will keep you centred in your lane and it’ll tug the steering wheel gently to direct you back into place if you wander too far.
Seven airbags are spread across two rows.
Absent on the list are arguably two of the most useful safety features: blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Tiguan is impressive to drive.
Its little turbo petrol engine, which makes 110kW and 250Nm, is a reliable performer but feels a little underdone when pushed.
Overall, though, it’s a quality highway cruiser and family-hauler, feeling planted and stable at speed and agile around town.
The six-speed auto does a good job of keeping the engine humming along in its sweet spot, although it can hesitate a little on take-off if you floor the throttle.
Light and direct steering coupled with firmish suspension combine to make it one of the better mid-size SUVs to steer. It sits flat through corners and there is ample grip on tap.
Volkswagen claims the Tiguan will drink 7.7L/100km, which is OK for a medium SUV, but it requires pricier premium unleaded petrol.
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport AWD, from $46,220 drive-away
Stylish SUV that brings a higher level of safety and all-wheel drive for the same money.
Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid 2WD, from about $46,900 drive-away
Best selling SUV in the country with fuel-sipping hybrid tech. You’ll likely wait up to a year for one, though.
Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2WD, from about $47,000 drive-away
Well equipped and well presented inside but let down by an uninspiring engine and transmission combo.
Three and a half stars
Quality all-rounder that could do with some more gear and safety tech for the price.
VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 110TSI
PRICE About $47,200 drive-away
ENGINE 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, 110kW/250Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICING Five-year/unlimited km, $3323 over five years
SAFETY Seven airbags, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, driver fatigue detection, radar cruise control
SPARE Space saver
LUGGAGE 615 litres