2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

First Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

“Drive it like you stole it”

It was among the art galleries, boutiques, and piquant restaurants of Denver’s upscale enclave of Cherry Creek that Volkswagen chose to introduce both North America and Europe to its all-new 2018 Tiguan.

Journalists from both continents spent a day behind the Tiguan’s wheel tackling some twisty, even perilous, mountain roads – both paved and unpaved. It proved an excellent opportunity to challenge the new VW, but also to gaze in awe at the immensity of Colorado’s red-rock formations and the near-endless vistas which define the mid-west state.

Challenging roadways allowed us to follow the “drive it like you stole it” tongue-in-cheek instructions of VW’s Canadian rep Thomas Tetzlaff. What he really meant was put the boots to the new Tiguan to see if it meets expectations. We did…and it did, mostly.

“Not a single nut was carried over,” said Thomas.

The 2018 Tiguan is much bigger than its predecessor. In fact, it’s 30 cm (10.6 in) longer and can be equipped with third-row seating, for a total of seven occupants. VW readily admits that the third-row perches are more suited to children than full-size folk, unless of course ulterior motives exist.

The extra length dramatically alters interior environs by providing generous legroom front and rear, and dramatically more cargo space behind the rear seat, especially when the third-row option hasn’t been selected.

I doubt future Tiguan owners will want more interior real estate. Some though, may want more under the hood.

Despite our high-altitude drive route, which exceeded 8,000 metres, the 2.0L turbocharged 184 horsepower I-4 power plant could use a little more punch in the passing lane, especially when that passing lane is pointing uphill. Sporty drivers rolling onto the throttle at the apex may also balk at the noticeable lag which precedes power delivery.

Overall though, the engine is exceptionally refined and operationally polished. It’s fused to a highly effective 8-speed automatic transmission featuring a Sport mode and manual-shifting, though no shift-paddles. This shortcoming requires the removal of a hand from the wheel at some of the most inopportune times when administering a cog swap.

The Tiguan Trendline is the base unit. Unlike the mid-level Comfortline and the high-end Highline, the Trendline is a front-wheel-drive affair while its more upscale siblings benefit from grip at all four-corners thanks to Volkswagen’s excellent 4MOTION all-wheel-drive technology.

Inside the latest Tiguan, occupants will find an attractive, straightforward tightly-assembled cabin making use of quality materials. Sightlines from the driver’s seat are largely unimpeded, which isn’t something that can’t be said for many crossovers and SUVs of late.

The unobstructed views combined with the optional panoramic glass roof allowed the full grandeur of the Colorado Rockies to be appreciated. The Rockies stretch from Alaska, through Canada and the US, into Mexico.

Our drive had us depart Denver on Colfax Avenue, reputed as the longest continuous street in America. Soon after, we were climbing into the mountains where the Tiguan’s sure-footed handling was greatly appreciated.

The unpaved portion of our mountainous journey subjected the Tiguan to plenty of washboard surfaces. Here the 4MOTION setup proved highly capable at providing slip-free traction while keeping the Tiguan in its line and under control.

Driver-selectable settings for the 4MOTION system include Snow and Off-Road. Further to this, performance and handling dynamics can be tailored via four additional drive settings: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom.

Fuel-economy ratings for the new Tiguan shake-out at 10.6 and 8.7 litres per 100km city and highway. Our test vehicles were calibrated in miles per-gallon and averaged 23-26 MPG through the mountains; not bad.

Touring the Mile-High City and its surrounding mountains and mesas in the new Tiguan was delightful. The majesty of the red-rock landscape is stunning, fully living up to the Spanish word ‘colorado,’ which means ‘coloured red.’

It’s hard to think of another compact SUV that would be as well suited to explore the ruggedness of Colorado than the new Tiguan; it’s attractive, spacious, and well-built. More importantly, it delivers an upscale driving experience that won’t break the bank in terms of retail pricing and operating expenses.

Though VW has yet to announce the Tiguan’s Canadian price structure, look for it to be competitive with other all-wheel-drive compact SUVs. Be certain to consider content, such as driver assists and safety technology, when comparing prices.

Volkswagen has brought a full-suite of technology forward in the new Tiguan, much of which is included as standard equipment in the three available trim levels.

While we may have driven it like it we stole it, my road partner and I returned the Tiguan to Thomas at the end of our “Gone in 60 Seconds” routine rather than see a Denver jail from the inside. Our lodgings at the Cherry Creek Halcyon Hotel were much preferred.

The new Tiguan should be in Canadian showrooms by late summer.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
Canadian Pricing: not yet released by Volkswagen
Configuration: front engine, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2,0L I-4 / 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 184 hp / 221 lb-ft
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km): city 10.6, highway 8.7
Warranty (basic):  4 years / 80,000 km
Competitors: Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4

Related links:
Volkswagen Canada

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