2021 VW Tiguan facelift road test review
When we first saw the VW Taigun, we thought to ourselves, "Look! A mini-Tiguan!" And while the Taigun certainly plays that part well, especially from the front, and distilling a lot of the qualities of the larger SUV into a smaller package, that statement won't ring entirely true now. The Volkswagen Tiguan facelift debuts the new global look for Volkswagen cars (sort of a mix between the Golf Mk8, and big daddy SUV, the Touareg) here in India. That aside, look at the Tiguan facelift more as a successor to the Tiguan Allspace 7-seater, which it replaces, than the previous Tiguan 5-seater, considering the Allspace gave us our first taste of a large Volkswagen SUV with the 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. But all in, the previous VW Tiguan with its 2.0-litre diesel motor was one of our favourite road trip machines, despite its somewhat lacklustre on-paper figures. Can the petrol-powered Tiguan live up?
2021 VW Tiguan facelift - what's new?
The second-gen Tiguan debuted internationally in 2016, came to India soon after, and was discontinued in the shift to BSVI in 2020, itself replaced by the Allspace petrol. Life's come full circle for the Tiguan, and the good news is that on the face of it, the Tiguan is fresh enough to pass off as a new car, with an even more polished look to it now.
The grille is taller, with four chrome slats defining the outline, going into more stylised LED headlights that taper to a point. The slimmer LED matrix headlights themselves are pretty trick, with VW's IQ.Light technology that sees 24 individual LEDs in each lamp intelligently light up the road ahead, with cornering functionality, as well as automatic selection based on the kinds of roads you're travelling on - all to also avoid dazzling other road users. The lower bumper's cleaner looking too, but soak it all in because the front end is where the changes are at. Around the side, the 18-inch split-spoke wheels look a little too plain in their design though they fill out the arches well enough. The tail lights are ever so slightly more angular in their design, with different signature light elements, while the tweaked tailgate now has a large Tiguan badge taking pride of place on it. There's also VW's new flat logo around, and inside, the car.
Speaking of the cabin, the new slightly flat-bottomed steering wheel has the most apparent new logo, behind which sits the new 10-inch Digital Cockpit Pro - clear, legible and configurable. Elsewhere, there's a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment, and touch sensitive climate controls (backlit blower speed indicator is a cool touch) taking the place of the physical buttons from before, with all USB charge points moving to Type C (two up front, two at the rear, again with useful backlighting), and a large panoramic sunroof.
The dash layout remains largely the same otherwise, with familiarly high quality soft-touch materials in most places, and Vienna leather upholstery. What's worth noting is that the reverse camera offers up four angles, the seats are heated, not cooled and the passenger side front seat is manual adjust only - Volkswagen, come on.
2021 VW Tiguan facelift powertrain
So out went the 2.0-litre diesel, and in comes the 2.0-litre TSI petrol with a 7-speed DSG and all-wheel drive, the same as the outgoing Tiguan Allspace that we're familiar with. Outputs stand at 190PS and 320Nm - 37PS more than the diesel, and 20Nm down on torque, though maximum torque is actually rated at lower revs for the petrol! You would think that there would be a performance differential versus the larger Tiguan Allspace, what with that car being 215mm longer overall, with 110mm of that in the wheelbase alone, to account for the two extra seats. But the kerb weight of the Tiguan, at 1,703kg, is just 32kg down on the Allspace, which won't really account for much.
2021 VW Tiguan facelift driving impressions
From what we remember of the diesel Tiguan, the new TSI-powered Tiguan feels and sounds a lot more refined, with a more alert feel from the throttle pedal at all speeds. With torque peaking from 1,500-4,100 revs, this TSI engine could really give a diesel a run for its money with its liveliness at low speeds! There always seems to be more than enough on tap at all times, and regular driving will see the 7-speed offering up seamless shifts around the 2,100rpm mark to keep up with traffic, though getting away from it does need a firmer foot on the throttle, with a pleasant growl from the engine as a reward, even at the top end of the rev range. The gearbox is exceptionally well behaved though, never once displaying any sort of uncertainty as to what gear it should be in - something the older diesel sometimes struggled with when dealing with erratic traffic conditions. For all out performance, the 2.0-litre petrol can't be matched either. In our testing the Tiguan 2.0-litre petrol managed the 0-100kmph run in 8.5s, versus the diesel's 9.6s. Like the Tiguan Allspace, launch control is standard.
As for roll-on performance, figures for the 30-50, 50-70 and 60-80 metrics are 1.9s, 2.3s and 2.7s respectively, with the Sport drive mode inexplicably adding tenths to the times, instead of dropping them. As before, selecting a drive mode also automatically puts the gearbox into the corresponding mode so as to make things less confusing. Where the Tiguan petrol can't match up to the diesel is in the efficiency stakes, with the petrol car returning 8.2kmpl in the city (13.4kmpl for the diesel), and 11.7kmpl on the highway (18.2kmpl for the diesel).
2021 VW Tiguan facelift ride and handling
There's perhaps more of a difference to the larger Tiguan Allspace here, with the 5-seater Tiguan feeling a little more eager to turn in, and more befitting of the otherwise lighter than absolutely necessary steering feel, both at low speeds and highway speeds. There's good precision here, it's just the weight of the steering throws you off initially. The Tiguan rides well, with a bit of the characteristic underlying firmness over sharper edges of bumps and potholes, though it doesn't get upset by road undulations as a result. It also holds its line well over fast sweeping corners, and feels like it could be quite the family getaway tool for the enthusiastic driver, again just like the larger Allspace was. The all-wheel drive seems to work quietly in the background to give you good drive even on gravelly surfaces, never losing composure. Even with the ESC in its sportiest setting, the predominantly front-wheel drive system tends towards safer understeer if you get over confident with your corner entry speeds, though the way the Tiguan settles in a corner even at the limit is predictable.
2021 VW Tiguan facelift verdict
Priced at Rs 31.99 lakh, ex-showroom, the Tiguan is very much the expensive proposition it was, which was incidentally about a lakh rupees lower than its current price tag. Its rivals, the Jeep Compass and Hyundai Tucson, are all varying degrees more affordable (despite also offering AWD) but perhaps lacking in the sort of intangible polish that the Tiguan brings to the table. On other hand, the slightly larger Citroen C5 Aircross is marginally more expensive, lacks AWD but is more comfortable. Ultimately, if you want a German SUV for under Rs 40 lakh on road, the Tiguan is your only choice. But it's not a choice you'll regret making one bit.
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