A combination of the words ‘tiger’ and ‘leguan’ (German for ‘iguana’), the name ‘Tiguan’ was chosen from VW’s shortlist after the company received around 350,000 suggestions from readers of the German magazine Auto Bild. We like the name, especially since others under consideration were Rockton, Nanuk, Samun, and Namib.

With its somewhat muscular and determined stance, unique front and rear ends, the Volkswagen Tiguan Trend & Fun is refreshing to look at compared to other compact SUVs like BMW’s aging X3 and Honda’s ugly duckling, the CR-V. The Trend & Fun spec model comes with 16-inch San Francisco wheels from VW, although there are some attractive 19 ″ alternatives available. Chrome grille surround, exterior mirrors and color-coded door handles are standard across the range. Overall, the Tiguan is well proportioned and stands out on the road.

Once inside, the front seats hug him. The optional power seat adjustment in our test car meant that an almost infinite number of driving positions are available and, when combined with the optional heated seats, made the ride very comfortable, especially in the Cape winter. The interior is lavishly decorated and we found the fit and finish to be excellent. The controls are in the right places and easy to use. The touch screen radio is easy to use and the 8 speaker system provides good sound quality, especially if you have an MP3 player, which connects via the auxiliary connection in the center armrest.

Rear passengers have ample legroom and a center armrest with two cup holders. The rear seats are foldable in a 60/40 division, have recliner adjustment, and another feature is that they are longitudinally adjustable, that is, they slide forward and backward. The trunk space is 471 liters, or 1,510 liters with the seats folded forward, and it should be enough for the luggage of four people or for your monthly purchases. Numerous safety features including 6 airbags; anti-lock brakes; Electronic Stability Program; Side impact protection and Isofix anchor points at the rear, which are all standard across the Tiguan range, contribute to its 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

At 200mm, the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trend & Fun has great ground clearance compared to others in its class. The ride height gives one a good panoramic view of the road, however the relatively thick C-pillar can be a hindrance at times. When paired with VW’s permanent four-wheel drive (4Motion), the Tiguan has the credentials, on paper at least, to deliver competent off-road driving. However, and this is generally the case for most SUV owners, we couldn’t prove it. Like most Tiguan drivers, our time is spent almost exclusively in the urban jungle and black stuff. But the Tiguan feels right at home on the tar. The ride is firm but comfortable and the 4Motion provides confident progress, especially in the wet. Steering is direct and well-weighted when in motion, thanks to speed-sensitive power steering. However, we felt that the steering could have been lighter when maneuvering around town or in tight spots.

Giving the Tiguan its legs is the world’s first direct-injection gasoline engine with dual-charge technology. The 1.4-liter engine features a mechanically operated turbocharger and supercharger. This innovative combination ensures power delivery throughout the rev range with little to no turbo lag and equates to more power but better fuel consumption than an equally powerful 2.0-liter engine. The 1.4-liter TSI produces 110 kW at 5,800 rpm and a healthy 240 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 4,000 rpm. Although peak power occurs relatively high in the rev range, the good torque distribution makes the Tiguan a pleasant drive, and this is the ace of the little 1.4-liter. At highway speeds, you can comfortably navigate in sixth gear and climb most hills without having to move the gearbox. Even when driving at urban speeds, the engine starts the fifth and sixth gears from 80 km / h without complaint. The engine responds and speaks to the driver with a stubborn little growl. It is a pity that the gearbox is not as elegant as the engine to which it is attached. We found it to be notched and as it rushed through the gears somewhat awkward.

We like …

  • Styling.
  • Well equipped interior.
  • Firm but comfortable ride.
  • Quality fit and finish generally associated with more expensive cars.
  • Great ‘little’ TSI engine, with its responsiveness and dogged growl.

We would like …

  • Traditional parking brake, unlike the installed electronic one, which seemed to behave inconsistently.
  • Better synchronized manual gearbox, or VW’s accomplished automatic DSG.
  • Lighter steering at low speed.
  • An automatic folding feature for relatively bulky side mirrors – think tight parking spots or busy street parking.

Fast facts

  • Engine capacity: 1390 cm³
  • No. of cylinders: 4 cylinders, in line
  • Aspiration: supercharged and turbocharged
  • Power: 110 kW at 5,800 rpm
  • Torque: 240 Nm at 1,750 – 4,000 rpm
  • Drive type: permanent all-wheel drive
  • Acceleration: 0-100 km / h in 9.6 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 192 km / h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 8.4 l / 100 km (declared combined)

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