The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan adopts a sharper exterior design. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan adopts a sharper exterior design. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

The Volkswagen Tiguan forged its reputation as a natural step up for growing families enamoured with its Golf or Polo cousins.

Now, as the world moves on, the revised model draws heavily on all the market requirements of digitalisation and intelligent light systems for an improved midsize SUV. The big news here is that the popular R-Line trim can now be optioned on any model.

The new frontal styling it shares with the Mk8 Golf makes it likable and extremely “blinged up” thanks to chrome on its redesigned and now a recessed gaping grille. The rest of the shape is intact compared with its squarer predecessor, but the rear tail lights get brighter LED bulbs.

The interior has undergone a revamp. It has a fully digital dashboard display, and VW has flattened every button and dial on the main control interface and on its multifunction steering wheel for flush clicks and touch-sensitive operation. This bodes well for a premium look and feel but the audiophile in me mourns the loss of a volume knob and climate control buttons.

There are comfy and fully leather-clad seats that don’t squat low enough, but the steering is adjustable for rake and reach. Luxuries and conveniences include a power tailgate, wireless charging, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, VW AppConnect, seat warmers, and a premium Harman Kardon audio system.   

The Tiguan is available in a four-model range with two four-cylinder engine derivatives in base, Life and R-Line specification. The range-topper is equipped with a 162kW and 350Nm 2.0l TSI motor, a seven-speed DSG and 4Motion underpinnings.

The rest, including my weekend wheels, are front-wheel drives propelled by a 1.4TSI with 110kW and 250Nm paired with a six-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox for a claimed 9.2 second sprint to 100km/h and a top speed of 200km/h.

The interior of the 2021 Tiguan is spacious and now more premium and fully digitized.
The interior of the 2021 Tiguan is spacious and now more premium and fully digitized.   
Image: Supplied

My R-Line car had engine modes too: Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual and with each setting the vehicle responded with a change in colour for the interior mood lighting and corresponding driving characteristics.

The car didn’t feel quite as comfortable as I expected, with a notable stiffness in its drive quality. I can also point to the thinner rubber of the R-Line specification for this foible. The Tiguan corners with confidence on mixed-size 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, while Eco mode minimises fuel usage.

It returned an 8.4l/km average during its stay. Individual mode allows for a personal design of its mechanical texture.

A stint on a gravel road revealed it’s geared for mild safaris and this elevated the jolting of the suspension, while a night-time drive aimed to test its intelligent new lighting system proved worthwhile. When engaged, the active LED headlights self-manage the deployment of high and low beams and heightened illumination of road signs and when turning. It certainly works to make night-time driving safer and comfortable with the optional self-throttling and braking cruise control adding to the mix.

For a mid-sized SUV for most roads the Tiguan has always ticked all of the boxes. This new one continues on the same tangent but ups the ante for natural rivals using Audi-esque, first-class utensils.

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