4 November 2021
What is it?
Don’t take this the wrong way, but the Volkswagen Tiguan puts me in mind of the Ford Cortina. It shares some fundamental characteristics with that saloon of yesteryear, distinguishing every driveway, fitting every supermarket parking spot, and being a car most households aspire to and need. As a result, it seems to be everywhere – and just as the mass of drivers-in-the-street discover electrification, it has been launched as a thoroughly credible plug-in hybrid model.
There are three models, actually: the £35,515 Life entry version, the plusher Elegance and the sportier R-Line, our test car. All Tiguan PHEVs are well equipped, coming with niceties such as three-zone air-con, adaptive cruise control and front/rear parking sensors. A heated steering wheel and keyless entry show the emphasis of the £37,780 Elegance, and the exterior roof spoiler and 20in alloys the character of the £38,120 R-Line. Oddly, the latter model, though the most expensive, doesn’t get the desirable matrix LED headlights of its lesser brethren. You have to pay extra.
The powertrain consists of a well-proven 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine in unison with an electric motor (ahead of the six-speed automatic gearbox) so that the whole system has an extremely healthy power output of 242bhp, the electric motor’s impressive ground-level torque from standstill contributing to a brisk 7.5sec 0-62mph sprint. You can drive for up to 30 miles on the stored energy of the 10.4kWh lithium ion battery, and also at speeds of up to 80mph, though if you go as fast as that for long, the electric-only range shortens dramatically.
What’s it like?
On the road, the Tiguan PHEV is as house-trained as the rest of its siblings, with accurate and easy steering, a quiet ride (smooth for an SUV, not so much for a saloon) and plenty of performance.
It’s compact enough to be easy to drive even on width-limited UK country roads, and generates relatively little road noise. German manufacturers seem to be learning at last that this is a priority.
The rear passenger compartment is spacious given the car’s reasonably compact exterior dimensions, and without compromising boot space. And the car appears to be built to Volkswagen’s usual high-quality standards, with lustrous paint and very accurate panel-fit.