Tick One | Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI

BY Joel Tam

Who would have thought? A 1.4-litre engine in a chunky sport utility vehicle (SUV)! That has got to be a really anemic drive for sure? Well, don't knock it till you've tried it, is all we can say.

Photos: Joel Tam

I've grown fond of SUVs in recent years. The Volkswagen Tiguan is one model I really like. After driving it to Cameron Highlands, I was totally won over by this surprisingly nimble soft-roader. But that was the 2-litre TSI with 210 bhp and 4Motion. How does this smaller-engined 1.4 TSI fare?

First things first, the car looks no different from the 2.0 TSI. Our test car was fitted with the options pack and came with a panoramic sunroof, 18" "New York" alloy wheels, LED headlamps with daytime running lights, Park Assist, keyless entry and the RNS 510 infotainment and navigation system. All this made it look sharper and added to the premium feel, but it also comes at a premium price of SGD 9,000. That said, for the equipment you get, it's pretty good value in the long run.

The Tiguan is a handsome SUV either way you look at it. While it's no Touareg, it does have some resemblance to its bigger brother. I've said it before, the pre-facelifted Tiguan was styled a little too soft for me, but this new model looks just right.

Swing open the heavy driver's door, get comfortable on the inside, and if I may be honest, Volkswagen interiors are beginning to leave me a little cold. But that has largely got to do with the fact that I am a big fan of the brand and have done numerous drives with their cars. If this is your first VW car, you wouldn't be complaining. That said, the new Golf couldn't have come at a better time. Have you seen the Golf's new interior? It's gorgeous for a hatchback!

Back to the Tiguan, the overall quality and finishing is still very good, and is clearly a class above any Japanese SUV. The instrument panel is well laid out and everything is constructed well, the RNS 510 infotainment panel is easy to use and incorporates everything you need for music, navigation and more.

Step to the back and the legroom and headroom is ample for three full-sized adults. The rear has a 60:40 split-fold rear bench seat that can be adjusted forwards and backwards and also reclined. Cargo capacity can go up to 1510 litres.

Like all of the latest Volkswagen offerings, being behind the wheel of a Tiguan is a rewarding driving experience. Power from the 1.4 TSI twincharged unit is more than ample. With 150 bhp and 240 Nm, blasting off the lights and leaving the rest well behind is a cheap (but highly entertaining) thrill. SUVs should not be so light on their feet. It's also a very well-rounded and versatile performer round the corners, which adds to the confidence you get when you pilot the car into a series of bends. The 18" wheels with 235/50 R18 tyres do help in that area no doubt.

The suspension settings do make the ride a bit firmer than most SUVs in a similar class, but they work well to make the Tiguan sit flatter and corner with less body roll than its competitors and even some saloon cars!

The Tiguan 1.4 TSI is an awesome all-rounder for an SUV. It's a shame that this particular tune of the 1.4 TSI keeps it at the neutral zone for a CEVS rebate, otherwise you'd be looking at a discount off the already reasonable price of SGD 168,800. Looking through the list of medium-sized SUVs, if I were in the market for one, I'd tick the Tiguan for sure.