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Volkswagen Tiguan SUV (2011 - ) MK1 Facelift review

Read the Volkswagen Tiguan 4x4 (2008 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

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Words by: Auto Trader

Last updated on 14 November 2014 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:


The Volkswagen Tiguan is a mid-sized 4x4 boasting handsome looks, comfort, space and a desirable badge, but can look pricey compared to rivals like the Kia Sportage.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickComfortable
  • tickFun to drive
  • tickEconomical engines

At a glance:

How good does it look?

The Volkswagen Tiguan was launched in 2008, but received a comprehensive facelift for 2011. Squarer headlights contribute to a bolder face which sits comfortably alongside the rest of the VW range. The rear lights have an intricate lamp arrangement, giving the Tiguan an identity at night. An off-road-focussed model, the Escape, is also offered with a sharply-angled lower bumper for improved ability to traverse ditches. All models are fitted with alloy wheels, but LED side lights, which are de rigueur for many new models aren’t fitted as standard.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's the interior like?

Although the interior has been largely untouched since its 2008 launch, time has been kind to the design. It has an elegant feel and the quality of the assembly is first rate. The materials used in the cabin are generally very good, but the lower half of the dash feels a little low-rent by comparison, with hard plastics that feel flimsy. It’s exceptionally easy to get a comfortable seating position and the steering wheel adjusts for rake as well as for reach.
Expert rating: 4/5

How practical is it?

The Tiguan is a spacious vehicle, with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room for four adults; the centre rear seat is best treated as an occasional seat, or one for children. The rear seats slide forward and back by up to 16cm, and the seat backs tilt through 23 degrees. The boot measures 470 litres, which is slightly more than the BMW X1 but less than the Range Rover Evoque. The seats fold flat, creating a useful flat floor to load large cargo. SE, Sport and Escape models have pull-out drawers under the front seats.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's it like to drive?

Few mid-sized 4×4s offer as much fun on a twisty road as the Tiguan. The chassis allows the car to cut, rather than roll, through bends, and the car’s demenour feels safe and secure, without being boring or stolid. There’s also a positive feel through the steering wheel that’s rare on a car with off-roading pretentions. The trade-off is a slightly firm ride, but it only becomes uncomfortable on the most rutted roads – the standard set-up is good enough to make the optional adaptive suspension, which offers Comfort and Sport modes, unnecessary. Models with 17-inch wheels have the best blend of looks and comfort, as 18 inch wheels transmit too much vibration into the cabin. Grip is good on the standard two-wheel drive setup, and these models are more fun to drive. However, VW’s 4MOTION four-wheel drive system adds confidence when conditions get slippery.
Expert rating: 3/5

How powerful is it?

Volkswagen offers the Tiguan with a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines, although diesels will account for 90 per cent of sales thanks to reduced running costs. All three diesels are 2-litre units offering 110, 140 and 170bhp. The 110bhp version is only available with two-wheel drive and takes 11.9 seconds to reach 62mph and has a top speed of 109mph. The 140bhp unit is the biggest seller, and cuts the 0-62mph time to 10.8 seconds and extends the top speed to 116mph. The 170bhp diesel will hit 62mph in 8.9 seconds and reach 125mph. Both the 140 and 170bhp engines are available with two- and four-wheel drive, and are both smoother to drive than the 110bhp version. The petrol options are 1.4 and 2.0 litres in size with power ranging from 160 to 210bhp. 0-62mph times for Tiguans equipped with petrol motors range between 9.2 and 7.8 seconds.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much will it cost me?

There are cheaper models in this class – the entry-level Kia Sportage is more than £3,500 less than the cheapest Tiguan – but it will hold far more of that value when it comes to sell, thanks to VW’s brand prestige. CO2 emissions for the cleanest two-wheel drive diesel are 139g/km which makes it cheap to tax, and even the range-topping 170bhp diesel emits just 158g/km of CO2. The 110 and 140bhp diesels will return more than 53mpg too. Petrol models will be pricier, with CO2 emissions ranging from 156-199g/km and only the two-wheel drive 110bhp model can cover more than 40mpg.
Expert rating: 4/5

How reliable is it?

Volkswagen is famous for its build quality, and the quality of the materials and construction appear to be first-rate. The engines and gearboxes have been used in many other models. Auto Trader readers agree, awarding the Tiguan 4.6 stars out of five.
Expert rating: 5/5

How safe is it?

Crash safety experts Euro NCAP awarded the Tiguan a full five star rating when it was tested in 2009. All Tiguan models are equipped with two front, two front side and two head/thorax airbags, and two rear side airbags are available as an option. The front passenger airbag can be deactivated when a child seat is fitted and ISOFIX child seat anchors are installed. A fatigue detection system is standard on SE, Sport and Escape models which monitors the way the car is driven and advises a rest stop should it determine the driver is tired.
Expert rating: 5/5

How much equipment do I get?

There are four versions in the Tiguan range and all, bar the entry-level S, are generously equipped. S models are fairly basic, and are supplied with air-con, roof rails, a digital radio, 16-inch alloy wheels and electric windows. SE models are the most popular, coming with 17-inch alloys, audio controls on the steering wheel, climate control, Bluetooth, automatic headlights and wipers, front lumbar support, USB connectivity, parking sensors and a touch screen audio system. Sport models have firmer suspension, 18-inch alloys and alcantara-trimmed seats. Off-road oriented Escape versions feature a bespoke front bumper, a compass and hill descent control.
Expert rating: 4/5

Why buy?

Great to drive, well-equipped and supplied with the VW badge that offers plenty of prestige, the Volkswagen Tiguan is among the best in its class. It’s more fun to drive than a Land Rover Freelander, has more toys as standard than an Audi Q3 and more space than a Ford Kuga.
Expert rating: 5/5

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