One of the great things about the Tiguan Allspace is that it looks just like — a Tiguan. Picture: QUICKPIC
One of the great things about the Tiguan Allspace is that it looks just like — a Tiguan. Picture: QUICKPIC

People often ask me what I would buy if I was buying a car. It is, of course, a general question.

Am I buying a sports car or an SUV to drive through Africa? Usually we narrow it down to an everyday car, one that can do the daily commute, carry all the family stuff at the weekend and still deliver a little bit of fun.

For years my answer was always the same — the Audi A3 Sportback. It not only provides scope to choose anything between an efficient diesel and the stonking RS3, but the model also stops short of being a full station wagon while having more boot space than a regular hatch. The styling is great, the interior the best in the business and in spite of being German, the costs won’t break the bank.

But now when faced with the question, I am faced with a dilemma over my usual answer and it comes from within Audi’s ranks. It is the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

The Allspace barely shows its additional 215mm of length. Picture: QUICKPIC
The Allspace barely shows its additional 215mm of length. Picture: QUICKPIC

I’m not normally a fan of seven-seater vehicles. Many are massive SUVs that people never use properly and which pose a serious rollover safety risk if you carry seven people in them and have to perform any kind of emergency lane change.

But lately we have been seeing smaller SUVs that are closer to the ground, have better electronic safety systems and which don’t pretend to be full seven-seaters but rather five-plus-two models.

The Allspace is one of these. The regular Tiguan is a brilliant vehicle to begin with but the Allspace gets an additional 215mm to bring it to 4,701mm in length. Some 105mm has been added to the rear but it is the addition of 110mm between the front and rear axles that also makes a marked difference. The proportions remain in keeping with the regular variant ensuring that the Allspace does not look like a Tiguan supersized.

The increase in size allows for that third row of seats, but it also provides up to 180mm of room to move the middle row. It increases the boot space to 760l with the third row down and to a massive 1,920l with both middle and rearmost seats folded into the floor.

The interior is spacious and comfortable enough to even be a decent workspace when there are contractors at home. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The interior is spacious and comfortable enough to even be a decent workspace when there are contractors at home. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Put them all up though and boot space drops to a city car rivalling 230l, although this can be varied by sliding either row further forward. In these days of getting value for money, 215mm extra gives you a great deal. It gives you an extra row of seats, albeit ones that are really only for occasional use.

But that is the thing, you don’t want to have seven people in your car all the time, unless you are a Toyota Avanza taxi driver. And if you only have five then you have masses of bootspace which is ideal when you want to get away at the weekend or pick up something larger from Builders Warehouse for the weekend DIY.

You get all of this for R32,900 more than the equivalent Tiguan model which to me makes it a bit of a no-brainer. You might only use the occasional third row seats, occasionally. You might only put 760l of garden compost in the boot, occasionally, but knowing you can makes that extra over the regular model worthwhile.

Equally important is the fact that you get everything a Tiguan has to offer. For some reason, the Nissan Qashqai+2 never had the appeal of the Qashqai and sold in limited numbers in spite of the extra seats and larger bootspace when they were folded away. It could have been the slightly odd rear styling compared to the regular model, but that issue is not there with the Allspace — it looks just like a Tiguan.

The third row of seats are for occasional use but occasionally they can be very useful. Picture: QUICKPIC
The third row of seats are for occasional use but occasionally they can be very useful. Picture: QUICKPIC

Inside you get all the same kit too, including the option of the digital instrument cluster, the high quality materials and the latest infotainment system.

Here though I have to rant a little, because the infotainment system is far from perfect. The gesture control is anything but intuitive and I found the touchscreen often failed to acknowledge my inputs, occasionally leading to me stabbing at the screen like those annoying people who press the button for the lift 10 times thinking it will make a difference.

At this point perhaps I should also point out that it was not the first Allspace we had on test. We had one for a couple of days before I realised that the indicator light in the left side mirror was staying on all the time. We tried everything to get it to turn off but to no avail and eventually the car was picked up with the promise that it would be back the next day. We never saw it again. The part was not available in SA and had to be ordered from Wolfsburg and eventually another car arrived.

When it did arrive though, it spent a week convincing me that it could be the best all-rounder and my new A3 Sportback. It did so without even really trying and that says a great deal about it too.