Whenever VW launches a new model is usually a hurly-burly kinda gig as it’s more of a facelift rather than a whole new car. Except that in the case of the VW Tiguan AD, it seems that things are not quite like that.
If the original Tiguan was rather an furios but not necessarily faster Golf, aimed at women wearing fur coats and sunglasses indoors at the mall, the VW Tiguan AD is rather a Touareg Lite, as it goes with smartphones. In fact, if I think about it, the Tiguan AllSpace (the 7-seater version) is approximately as big as the original Touareg, it’s only a few inches away in length, width and height. Just like when you drop the soap and you are a few inches away from happiness. That saying, you sleep with your back against the wall it will do you no good, if you sleep with your mouth open.
Anyway, the VW Tiguan AD has made a huge leap compared to the first Tiguan and is a car that wants to be taken seriously and that was inflated intentionally to approach the Touareg in terms of dimensions and to be the last step to their biggest wheeled apartment, because we live in times under the tyranny of the cross-over and VW came and effectively occupied every possible and impossible niche and size. We have Touareg, Tiguan, T-Roc, T-Cross and Taigo, in that order of size. Soon there will be something even smaller than the Taigo, which is a Polo with a cross-over treatment because I can’t say it’s a Polo on stilts because it’s not. It’s a Polo in sports sneakers at most. In any case, the cross-over version of the deceased Up! will probably appear. But let’s get back to the Tiguan, because it sits in a competition tighter than a Libresse sits. And that’s only inside VW’s garden, because there is also internal competition from Skoda and Seat, but also the world beyond, such as Tucson, Sportage, Qashqai and whatever got launched this week in the cross-over sector.
So why buy the Tiguan and not something else?
Let’s be honest, nowadays almost everyone offers the same engine options and options in general. So the Tiguan had to come with something extra and the real reasons to buy one are the following.
- Even if it’s not the last word in terms of technology, it feels that the interior is somewhat more quality and better put together. The screws are slightly little more tightened. The plastics are a bit more hidden and glued better. Sure, a Tucson maybe is cheaper, but if you put a lot of emphasis on the quality of the interior (i.e. you’re over 85 years old), then it can be a strong selling point.
- It comes with the 7 seats option and is one of the few cars in its class that comes with this. Ironically, the direct rival with 7 seats option in this range is it’s own brother Skoda Kodiaq, which is not really a brother but more of a rural cousin. Otherwise, we have the classic recipe. VW Tiguan is the most sober, elegant, expensive and boring of the trio. The Seat Tarraco is the sportiest and the middle way in terms of quality/price, and the Skoda Kodiaq is the most practical.
VW Tiguan AD Engines
- 1.4 Turbo of 125 and 150 horsepower – The final hurrah. Hurry up so you don’t miss the last train, because this engine was excellent in terms of performance and reliability. I’m not convinced that the 125 horsepower version is enough for the Tiguan, but it’s good that it existed. But if you want a simple Tiguan for the city crawl, then the 1.4 TSI with a manual gearbox is cheap and good.
- 1.5 Turbo of 130 and 150 horsepower – 1.5 TSI EVO and its slow reaction speed came to retire the 1.4 TSI and I am not convinced of this. I have talked extensively about the 1.5 TSI ACT engine and its problems, so I will not insist on the Tiguan because it is not a popular choice anyway.
- 2.0 Turbo EA888 of 150, 180, 190, 220, 230 and 320 horsepower – I don’t necessarily understand why you would want a 320 horsepower Tiguan 2.0 TSI , but it’s good to know that you have this option. The 150 is a bit pedestrian, but then again, you don’t buy your Tiguan to hoon it around. Especially since if you’re the type of person who looks at the Tiguan, you’ve probably already been to a proctologist. Yes, this engine no longer has specific problems but it can still chug down oil.
1.6 TDI of 115 horsepower – No. I mean, yes, sure, it’s reliable, but do you really want a 1.6 TDI? Even VW didn’t think this engine was worth it, so they quickly withdrew it from the shelfs. It has no specific problems, only that it is like a teacher’s salary – insufficient. And inadequate for the city life. If you buy a modern diesel VW….a modern diesel anything and haul it around town only, you’re gonna have a bad time.
2.0 TDI of 150, 190, 200 and 240 horsepower – Basically, I could only write about this engine because this is the star and the only relevant engine for most buyers. Yes, it’s a robust and reliable engine, but you have to take care of the AdBlue installation, the particle filter and the dual-mass flywheel, no matter if you have an automatic transmission or a manual one.
1.4 TSI Hybrid of 150 horsepower – Good luck finding one, but if you do find one it’s worth it until the first major fail hits your wallet. Even if in theory it is reliable, economical and lasts quite a long time, some repairs can be very expensive. However, like with any hybrid, the powertrain usually lasts 10 years with little to no intervention, so you’re still in the safe zone.
VW Tiguan AD Reliability Issues
- The DSG7 DQ500 automatic gearbox is the host with the toast that opens the book of general reliability issues for the VW Tiguan AD and VW in general. Either it fails, or it gets it’s gear into motion in a slow-motion manner, or it doesn’t shift it’s gears at all.
- The safety systems are so advanced that the car sometimes brakes on its own, for no reason. Which is not necessarily a problem, but it would be a shame to be in urban traffic and to brake suddenly and the car behind you to drill your buttocks through your pants.
- The Start/Stop system can fail in the middle of the junction and you’re left stranded. In fact, it doesn’t specifically fail at junctions, it can fail anytime you use it. The alternative is to do like everyone else and disable it when you turn on the car (by pressing the start button and not by kissing the steering wheel).
- One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and that’s definatelly the case with the infotainment system. The infotainment system on the second generation Tiguan is an older generation and is much more reliable and intuitive. And it has a big plus in having physical and not digital climate knobs on a screen. Like the Swiss flag, another big plus.
VW Tiguan AD Verdict
Nowadays the VW Tiguan ended up being a cheaper X3. Just as you buy an X3 because the X5 is too big and doesn’t necessarily justify its higher purchase and running costs, so the Tiguan is for the kind of person who doesn’t think a Touareg is worth the extra money, given that a Tiguan is 70% of a Touareg, but at much lower purchase and lower running costs (and it comes with 2 litre engines instead of 3 litres and that’s huge when it comes to insurance and road taxes). The only real difference is off the tarmac, where Tiguan owners will never go. So yes, if you are 70 years old and looking for a Touareg Lite, then the VW Tiguan AD is for you.
Which engines do I recommend? For petrol power I recommend the 2.0 TSI of 180 horsepower (178 horsepower in reality but what’s 2 horsepower to the marketing department anyway), and for diesel the 190 horsepower 2.0 TDI (again, 187 horsepower in reality).