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First drive: Volkswagen Tiguan

Date: 19 March 2021   |   Author: Simon Harris

The second-generation Tiguan has undergone a refresh to bring it up to date, but what we really want is a plug-in hybrid.
Standard equipment:
Alloy wheels, LED headlights, Lane Assist, Front Assist, MIB3 infotainment system including 8in touchscreen, DAB, smartphone mirroring via Bluetooth, height-adjustable front seats, dusk and rain sensors, leather-covered gear shifter and multifunction steering wheel
Petrol: 130hp 1.5, 150hp 1.5
Diesel: 150hp 2.0, 200hp 2.0
Equipment grades:
Standard, Life, Elegance, R-Line
Six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG auto

By my reckoning, close to 30 car brands on sale in the UK now have vehicles competing in the medium SUV sector, whether mainstream, premium or budget.

Volkswagen has been adept in appearing to straddle the line between mainstream and premium, drawing customers who want something that seems to be a cut above most mainstream cars, as well as those who either don't feel it's a step below most premium models and, in any case, is less showy.

And SUVs, even in the badge-conscious UK fleet sector, seem to be less affected by snobbery.

The Tiguan is one of Volkswagen's most popular models and the five-seat version sits in the middle of its range of SUVs, with the T-Cross and T-Roc below it, and the seven-seat Tiguan Allspace and larger Touareg above.

The second-generation Tiguan was launched in 2016, and sales of this updated version began in October 2020. But the range is not yet complete. Later this year, Volkswagen will launch a plug-in hybrid version as well as a high-performance R. We expect the former to be the best selling variant among fleet operators, with 245hp and most likely a 30-plus miles EV range, making it competitive on BIK tax with most rivals.

For now we have 1.5-litre TSI petrol versions with either 130hp or 150hp, and front-wheel drive, or 2.0-litre
TDI diesels with 150hp and optional 4Motion four-wheel drive, or 200hp and standard 4Motion.

For now, the most BIK tax-efficient are manual 130hp petrol variants, as the manual diesel's higher P11D price hikes the amount payable, despite having slightly lower CO2 emissions.

But our drive was in a 150hp 1.5 TSI R-Line, which has the seven-speed DSG automatic as standard.

Matching the latest Golf, the equipment grades have been renamed. A single entry-level 130hp petrol version has no designation - simply Tiguan - but previously would have been an S. The former SE is now Life and SEL becomes Elegance. R-Line continues as it did previously.

While it might have seemed nice and harmonious for Volkswagen to deploy the same badges across Europe, with no real hierarchy at first glance, the UK's remarketing industry, or at least the cars going through it, thrive on easily understood steps between equipment grades - characterised by S, SE and Sport, or subtle variations of it.

I wonder what a seasoned trader bidding at an auction for ex-fleet stock would make of Volkswagen's 'Y-structure' grading strategy, as stated in the marketing material we were given.

The update brings some styling elements that echo the new Golf, such as redesigned headlights (now with LED as standard), and the interior has undergone a major revision, despite this only being a mid-life facelift.

Inside there is a new digitised control unit for the air conditioning system, while touch panels and sliders finished in high-gloss black now perform the climate functions. Basically the same as the Golf 8, and we weren't too fond of them in that.

The Tiguan has ample power with the 150hp petrol engine combined with the DSG auto, and the R-Line chassis settings prioritise firmness and body control over comfort.

The Tiguan is well equipped at the entry level, it also performs well on cost of ownership because of modest fuel costs and strong residual values.

We like it, but can't help wondering fleets and their drivers will like the forthcoming plug-in hybrid more.

Volkswagen Tiguan 1.5 TSI R-Line DSG 

P11D: £32,135

Residual value: 46.7%

Depreciation: £17,141

Fuel: £8,064

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,774

Cost per mile: 46.6p

Fuel consumption: 38.7mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 165g/km (37%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £198/£396

Boot space: 520 litres

Engine size/power: 1,498cc/150hp


  • Strong residual values
  • Quality
  • Equipment
  • Grade naming strategy
  • Multimedia controls