Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Tiguan Has Grown Up

Published:Sunday | February 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
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Picture that iconic scene of a beautiful horse rearing up with the rider before settling down to a full gallop, and you'll understand the feeling I got when I put the 2018 VW Tiguan into sport mode and urged it on with my right foot. For this test, ATL agent Dwayne 'Mutty' McKenzie rode shotgun, spouting off all the facts and figures even as he got nervous sometimes when I took the capable crossover SUV through its paces. The test was the usual mix of city traffic and open road, and yes, that affliction of 'permagrin' that comes from a satisfying drive was very much present when we pulled back in at ATL Automotive, Oxford Road, St Andrew.

Now that you know the outcome of the test, let's just go back to the beginning, shall we? Our test model was a 2.0L Turbocharged specimen kicking out 180Hp through a 7-speed DSG automatic tranny. In many ways, the 2018 Allspace Tiguan has grown up. The former model was like a VW Golf on a raised platform, but for 2018, you get a lot more.

For starters, it is a seven-seater, giving it class-leading carrying capacity. It's obvious Volkswagen worked hard to address the old Tiguan's foibles, namely cramped interior dimensions and a segment-topping price tag. Improved packaging affords generous interior room - front and back. Mutty tells me that the new Tiguan has four extra inches between the wheels. Volkswagen says that rear-seat passengers have an additional 1.1 inches of knee room, but that's underselling things massively. A nicely placed lower cushion, gobs of headroom and legroom, a USB port and a 12-volt power outlet, and generously sized rear windows make the back seat an airy, pleasant area. Third-row seats are good enough for 'little people' and fold flat for more cargo room - as much as 60 per cent more.

Mutty was like a kid in a candy store telling me about the functional touches in the enlarged cargo hold, which include easy-to-reach release levers for folding down the rear seats, a multi-position cargo floor, and 12-volt and household power outlets. The driver and front passenger, too, have access to a USB port, a 12-volt plug, and more usefully shaped bins and storage cubbies than before. And if that was not enough, there are 10 cup holders all over and fold-out trays for rear passengers to dine in style.

 

COMMANDING VISIBILITY

 

In the driver's seat, the Tiguan's relatively low cowl and generous glass area offer commanding visibility in any direction. Lady drivers will be glad for the bossy-sounding European horn - a small touch, but good for Jamaican city traffic. The A, B, and C pillars are all solid steel, effectively becoming a roll cage in those vital moments. And, yes, if you take your eyes off the road for one careless minute or a 'shotta' driver cuts you off, or even a cow says moo on a dark night, sensors react to the danger by applying the brakes.

The Tiguan is big on fuel economy. Eco mode is one of three that get you as much as 38 mpg around town. Highway mode gets you up to 44mpg and, of course, there is the devil-may-care individual mode that gives whatever you ask for. None of the other crossover SUVs can claim that. As for driving modes, there are four - snow (no use in Jamaica except in a real mud pit); touring mode, which will carve up dusty, loose surfaces; tarmac; and finally, individual mode.

Predictably, after using the high-definition camera and all-round parking sensors, pulling out of ATL Automotive gave a good experience. Eco mode and normal mode were good for following in and weaving through city traffic. There was a pleasant, reassuring growl from the engine as we asked it for more. Punch in sport mode and plant the right foot and yeah, all that's left for you to say is "heeehaawww".

It redlines at about 6,500 RPM between shifts in sport mode. Send it through the bend like a bank robber in a getaway car and you'll be forgiven after saying three Hail Marys. The stability control and adaptive shock absorbers dutifully kept the Tiguan on course, even at higher-than-recommended speeds. That should satisfy any owner out on a country run. BiXenon adaptive lights should light up the night road well. Of course, that nice VW feature where the lights follow the bends is always welcome.

If you want a new Tiguan Allspace, you will have to run. Mutty says, the first three shipments for 2018 are already sold out. At the time of writing, the waiting list was at April. The word is that a lot more men are buying this time around, and clients run the gamut from school principals to mid-level travelling officers and other professionals. Of course, the young graduates are also lining up. Our test model was $5,995,000.00. The price range that covers all options (lowest to highest) is $5,150,000.00 - $6,995,000.00. That is seriously competing with even higher-sec SUVs in terms of features at a lower price.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com