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MOTORING: VW Tiguan 1.4 TSi

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The VW Tiguan, although fairly popular, has never stood out of the crowd and always seemed to remain in the shadows of its larger sibling, the Toureg. That is, until now. The all-new Tiguan has finally broken away from the shadows and has the spotlight firmly on it. This is mainly due to the new, rather extreme change to its design.

Where to start with this new Tiguan, which is a totally new car to the one we have become accustomed to? The new front end is almost indistinguishable from the previous version, with its large chrome grille that flows seamlessly into the new, larger headlights. The new bonnet has an almost clamshell look to it compared to the slanted old version. The revised bumper looks much more brute and now has more square and angular lines versus rounded and soft edges. The bottom section of the bumper now also has horizontal lines in keeping with the new grille look.

The side has also been through a dramatic revamp. Gone are the square wheel arches and these are replaced with round ones, which is odd considering the new vehicle is more squared off. However, this new design actually works well with the new squared look and actually makes the vehicle look more sporty. The waistline crease is now pronounced while the lower section of the doors is now colour-coded all the way to the bottom. This makes the vehicle look closer to its actual size. The C-pillar has also been revised and now has a larger rear window. The best part for me is the revised rear lights, though. Gone are the round overstretched rear lights; they are  replaced by modern square lights that look very similar to those on the latest version of the Golf. In keeping with this look, the rear end is almost a carbon copy of the Golf, just larger: from the angled rear windscreen to the number plate carved-out section. The odd reverse lights that were previously incorporated into the bumper are now better placed in the lower section of the rear lights. The rear spoiler is also further extended and completes the new look.

Inside, the changes continue with a revised dashboard, and in keeping with the outside, the square, angular looks are in. The new air vents look and work better than the old round version. The top section of the dashboard is also squared off. The dashboard display has also been improved with just two big dials for rev counter and speedometer. Instead of the round, smaller dials inside the bigger ones, the new version now has small cutaways at the bottom of the dials to house the fuel and temperature gauges. The space between the two displays now has a larger LCD screen for all the other information that the driver needs to know.

The centre drop-down section houses the new touch screen infotainment system that not only looks good but is as simple as 123 to operate. The new seats look and feel great, but more importantly the interior space has grown and the vehicle feels a lot roomier. The rear space is excellent and comfortable for even three adults.

The 1.4 TSi motor on the test vehicle matched the looks of the vehicle. Its turbocharged motor had sufficient oomph, but I think the 2.0 would work better, especially with a load. The six-speed manual gearbox was precise and felt good. The drive was good and the vehicle managed the road as well as gravel roads with absolute ease and poise. The comfort level is also improved and the vehicle is possibly the most comfortable in its class. Road-holding is typical VW, that is, like glue to the road. The increased ride height is almost not noticed until you push the car to its limits around a corner. This vehicle should manage what most drivers will throw at it through normal driving. As this is a soft-roader, don’t expect to do rock climbing or river runs. However, the annual trip down to the Kruger Park is well within its stride.

On the whole, this new version of the VW Tiguan has not just made all SUV drivers sit up and notice the new kid on the block, but it has also managed to set a new benchmark. In fact, I think this new Tiguan is so good-looking that it may even cause a stir within the VW stable.

AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ