LIKE any modern VW, the Tiguan looks great. Not great-looking in an awesome way, like the VW Scirocco is, or cheekily retro in the Beetle’s case. But in a tidy, logical, tasteful style. In silver, like our review unit here (a Tiguan 2.0 TDI), it’s distinctly German.

    What this wardrobe declares is that the Tiguan is a premium car. All right, the 2.0 TDI misses out on premium-car staples like cowhide seats or a glass roof, but the materials used all throughout it—and the manner by which these are used—are difficult to snipe at.

    The car’s silver paint glistens like it only can on silver German cars. Gaps between all body panels are tight and uniform. Lamps, grille, wipers and other exterior trim are polished, detailed. Plastics may dominate cabin pieces, but these appear to be sturdy, high-quality composite materials, transcending the often derogatory use of the label “plastic.” Carpeting and the headliner are plush enough. Door handles and seat levers are hefty. Control stalks, switches and knobs all engage with a positive click. Lighting on the meters and other instruments glow warmly. Metallic accents brighten up exactly the places that need brightening up (helpful as the cabin is virtually colorless). The Tiguan is one well-crafted car.

    Fact is, it is one whose craftsmanship is comparable to that lavished on powerhouse German brands BMW, Mercedes and Audi—with which the Tiguan shares many components, VW being the parent company of Audi. Those gushing positives in the preceding paragraph add up in creating a level of quality that qualifies as premium, a feel that is unmistakably Teutonic.

    In the cabin (roomy for five, with a surprisingly large boot) this is certainly true, and it’s difficult to find any marked difference in the way the Tiguan’s feels and looks compared with the interiors of comparably sized German SUVs. Now consider that the Tiguan, which sells for P2.109 million, undercuts its compatriot-rivals’ price tags by more than a million bucks.

    As its nomenclature hints at, the Tiguan 2.0 TDI is powered by a 2.0-liter, common rail direct injection, turbocharged, four-pot diesel engine that makes 138hp at 4,200rpm and a healthy 320Nm of torque starting from just 1,750rpm. The ratings are not bad for a vehicle of the Tiguan’s size, and on the road this shows. The Tiguan is quick once its turbo spools up and can sprint from one stoplight to the next rather briskly. In traffic-crawling though, the six-speed automatic transmission is sluggish when starting from a dead stop; you need to step on the throttle firmly to get the car moving. Then lift off the pedal and the car slows down abruptly. It takes seat time to smoothen things out.

    The Tiguan’s electrically boosted but mechanical steering is overly assisted, and so it’s vague and numb. But it’s speed-sensing, meaning it weights up as the car goes faster. It also turns the front wheels quickly and precisely. Throw this together with a stiff chassis and a suspension—MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar in front, multilink, also with a stabilizer bar, in the back—that feels tuned for dynamics first and ride comfort second, and the car becomes athletic. That said, some seriously good damping, a robust body structure and sensible footwear (17-inch alloys wrapped with 235/55 tires) balance out the handling package, fusing sporty moves with refinement.

    Consider, too, that the Tiguan 2.0 TDI is fitted with adaptive chassis control and VW’s 4Motion. This all-wheel drive system, along with a lofty ride height, allows the car capabilities on surfaces nastier than Metro Manila roads—which is saying a lot. Its hill-descent function also let it slither down slippery slopes. So besides on-road dynamics, the Tiguan is competent off-pavement as well.

    Sounds like a genuine SUV to me.


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