When Volkswagen launched the first iteration of its Tiguan in South Africa in 2008, there was little evidence of the significant role that the SUV segment would play in the global motor industry in the decade following. In its third generation, the Tiguan has been refreshed with a sharper design and new technological highlights.

Tiguan is a global success story for South Africa’s number one passenger car brand. Having sold over six million units worldwide since launch, and over 41,000 units in this country in the same period, the Tiguan has evolved to become the best-selling medium SUV in South Africa last year, with 4,280 units sold and a 16.2% share of its particular segment.

There are several reasons for the Tiguan’s success here and abroad. At the core of it, the German-made Tiguan, is a specimen of Volkswagen’s overall engineering competence.


Volkswagen has overhauled and simplified its Tiguan offering. Now, the model range is offered in three specification lines and with two engine options. As the entry point, the base derivative Tiguan (no suffix) ships standard with features such as 17” Montana alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, and a new eight-speaker infotainment system. 

Three engine options (two petrol and a turbodiesel that will be available from the end of 2021), with power outputs ranging from 110 kW to 162 kW, are carried over from the previous model. The entry-level car is offered with VW’s superb 110 kW 1.4 TSI petrol mill, which, even in base model guise, benefits from a six-speed DSG gearbox that sends the car’s 250 Nm of available torque to the front wheels. A top speed of 200 km/h and zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 9.2 seconds is claimed for this engine.

The second- and third-tier spec lines – Tiguan Life and Tiguan R-Line – also get this 1.4-litre TFSI engine. The Life derivative adds several interior and exterior features to the base model’s already notable standard features list. From the ground up, the wheels are upgraded to 18” Frankfurt alloys, and cornering lights are added to the LED set-up. Inside there is Climatronic air conditioning, park distance control at the front and rear, and an electric tailgate that makes for easy hands-free opening and closing. Optional alloy wheels on the Tiguan Life include 18” Nizza and 19” Victoria Falls designs.

The Tiguan R-Line stands at the top of the range and is the only derivative also offered with a choice of 2.0-litre- petrol or turbodiesel engines. Standard features include the R-Line exterior package, 19” Valencia alloy wheels, ambient lighting with 30 interior lighting options, Vienna leather seats with the R-line logo in the two front seats, Active Info Display, infotainment system with App Connect, a multi-function steering wheel with touch and swipe actions, and keyless entry. Optional alloy wheels on the R-Line derivative are the 20” Suzuka alloy wheels in chrome and black.


While the 1.4-litre petrol engine is offered in R-Line spec, the range-topping Tiguan can also be had with 130 kW of power from the end of the year. The only diesel engine in the Tiguan range sends 380 Nm of torque to the drive wheels via a seven-speed DSG gearbox to reach a top speed of 207 km/h. It will manage the zero to 100 km/h sprint in 8.3 seconds.

The most powerful engine in the Tiguan model range is the 2.0-litre turbo petrol with its power output of 162 kW and torque of 350 Nm. Taking just 6.5 seconds to complete the zero to 100 km/h run, this 4Motion all-wheel-drive version is significantly quicker than its diesel-powered kin and has a rated top speed of 225 km.


The Tiguan will come with a host of new interior features – a new steering wheel with touch controls is among the key interior highlights. VW has significantly simplified the interior by digitising the air conditioning system with touch sliders and touch buttons. While I mourn the loss of some tactile controls, there is no denying the overall elegance and simplicity of the cabin. A first for the Tiguan and the Volkswagen model range is the addition of an optional premium Harmon Kardon sound system, with a 16-channel amplifier, eight speakers and a subwoofer.

One of the striking new exterior features of the Tiguan includes the redesigned front bumper. The bonnet is more concise in its appearance, and the new radiator grille with LED headlights is also wider. On that note, the Tiguan’s optional new IQ.LIGHT – LED matrix headlights – features 22 individual LEDs per headlight, and is by far the most brilliant lighting system on any Tiguan that went before.

Should you wish to personalise your Tiguan further, additional optional features include a panoramic sunroof, trailer hitch, Black Style Package (black roof rails and decorative trim), black exterior mirror housing, privacy glass for the rear windows, head-up display, Harmon Kardon sound system, area view camera system with Park Assist, IQ Drive Package (Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Park Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking), and the Trailer Manoeuvring System that includes Park Assist.


There is no denying that the enhanced Tiguan is a visual feast that is also the smartest compact SUV that Volkswagen has produced to date. Few other cars can match its overall build quality and genuine premium feel. But there is equally little argument that all its virtues come at an equally premium price-point, and the question must be asked if this upward mobility will nudge some buyers elsewhere. That said, the Tiguan is unlikely to lose its status as the best-selling SUV in its segment in this country – South Africans know a good thing when they see it, and in the case of the new Tiguan, they’re likely to buy it as well.


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