Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Wide range of petrol and diesel engines on offer
  • Choice of manual and automatic gearboxes
  • Front- and 4Motion all-wheel drive available

It might take you a while to pick an engine for your Tiguan, as there’s such a wide choice on offer.

The petrol and diesel engines are all available in other VW models, so they’re all turbocharged and proven in plenty of other body styles.

Petrol engines

There’s a good array of petrol engines available in the Tiguan, and all offer really strong performance – Volkswagen having dropped lesser models from the line-up in recent years. That’s why the range kicks off with a relatively powerful 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol, producing 150hp.

It’s part of Volkswagen’s EVO family of engines, which means it comes with ACT or Active Cylinder Technology. This allows the engine to shut off fuel supply to two of its cylinders under light loads and run as a two-cylinder engine to preserve fuel.

The 150hp engine can be had with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic, but is front-wheel drive only. It’s capable of the 0-62mph sprint in 9.2 seconds, regardless of which gearbox you choose.

Those after a petrol Tiguan with all-wheel drive must step up to the automatic-only 2.0-litre, which comes in 190hp or 230hp flavours. The former will cover the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds before going on to a top speed of 133mph, while the latter improves these to an impressive 6.3 seconds and 143mph.

We’ve driven the 230hp unit, and found it certainly wasn’t lacking in performance, surprising many at the traffic lights who expected a workaday family SUV to be powered by a chuntering diesel engine. Yet we suspect the performance on offer from this engine is slightly overkill for practical family transport. For our money, we’d stick with the excellent 150hp unit, which is also slightly more refined than the 2.0-litre.

Diesel engines

The diesel options in the Tiguan are very wide-ranging, which gives customers a lot of choice. Kicking things off is a basic 2.0-litre unit – we think this is best avoided, as its mere 115hp leaves the Tiguan lacking the last degree of performance you need for relaxed progress. This replaces a 1.6-litre diesel with the same power output, offered from 2016 to 2019.

Far better is the 2.0-litre unit with 150hp – an engine we’re very familiar with across the Volkswagen Group range. It can be had with a six-speed manual and front or all-wheel drive, or a seven-speed DSG with AWD standard.

It’s a very flexible engine, pulling keenly from low rpm and remaining refined until the top end of the rev range. It also offers a really useful mix of performance and fuel economy, too, accelerating from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds, just shy of the equivalent petrol.

Stepping further up from the 150hp engine are a 190hp and 240hp twin-turbocharged variant of the same unit. These are paired exclusively with all-wheel drive and the DSG automatic, and while they offer plenty of power, like the 230hp petrol it’s largely unnecessary in a family SUV.

Handling

  • Impressively agile but there are sportier alternatives
  • Adaptive suspension option maximises comfort
  • 4Motion models are usefully capable on rough terrain

People tend not to buy SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan for their handling characteristics. But it’s reassuring that for people migrating from a more conventional hatchback that - higher driving position aside - it feels entirely normal. More modestly sized SUVs tend to share their underpinnings with their hatchback cousins rather than use all-new, heavy-duty off-roading platforms, and the Tiguan is based on similar modular architecture to the Golf.

As a result, the Tiguan is impressively agile both on-road and off it, responding to steering inputs accurately and changing direction without fuss. But like the majority of Golfs, the Tiguan doesn’t feel remotely sporty – its cousin, the SEAT Ateca, will better satisfy keener drivers.

Instead, the watchword here is comfort and it’s immediately apparent. Specify larger wheels on the standard suspension and you’ll be more aware of sharper ruts in the road, meaning it’s preferable to stick to smaller rims or opt for the excellent Dynamic Chassis Control with adaptive suspension.

In its standard setting the steering feels on the light side but this can be made heavier through the Driver Profile system. It doesn’t make the steering any more communicative, although it offers a reasonable degree of feedback as it is; it simply varies the resistance experienced as you turn the wheel.

All models come with VW’s XDS electronic differential lock, which directs more power to the outside front wheel when cornering to enhance traction. Tiguans equipped with 4Motion come with 200mm of ground clearance – up from the front-wheel drive models’ 190mm – and by switching the Active Control dial to Off-road mode it becomes surprisingly adept at dealing effectively with rougher terrain, the intelligent four-wheel drive system metering out the power to the wheels with the most traction.