ENGINE: 2.0-litre petrol inline four-cylinder turbo
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed DSG (with Launch Control)
DRIVETRAIN: 4MOTION - All Wheel Drive with 'R' Torque Vectoring
ECONOMY/CO2: 9.7L/100km, 220g/km (3P-WLTP converted)
BODY STYLE: Medium SUV
STATUS: Currently available
PRICE: R AWD from $80,990, R AWD 1st Edition $85,990
The wait is over for lovers of Volkswagen performance cars with the arrival of the new R range, which includes three new R models: the iconic Golf R, the all-new Tiguan R and joining the R range in late 2022 – the T‑Roc R.
Until now the Golf R has been the sole preserve of the Volkswagen’s R offering - but that’s all changed. The introduction of Tiguan R sets a new benchmark for Volkswagen, combining the dynamic performance of a sports car with the convenience of a Sport Utility Vehicle.
Following the adrenalin packed launch event at Pukekohe Park, where AA got the opportunity to take the new Tiguan R and Golf R through their paces, we got our hands on the Tiguan R for a week to explore how the new performance SUV stacks up in everyday city driving.
Tiguan has long been the brand’s most popular model worldwide, and now this version of the family-sized SUV - the most powerful Tiguan ever produced - combines the next level of performance alongside pure driver appeal and Volkswagen’s renowned suite of safety features.
So, what’s different?
What’s noticeably different as soon as you climb behind the wheel of the Tiguan R is how Volkswagen have taken decades of R know-how to deliver their first-ever performance SUV. This ‘R’ DNA has been cleverly absorbed into the perfect package for those wanting the best of both worlds - performance car and a family SUV.
The Tiguan R delivers:
- Extensive ride and handling upgrades
- A powerful 2.0L TSI petrol engine with 235kW of power,400Nm of torque
- An all-new drive system - 4MOTION with R-Performance Torque Vectoring
- An uprated seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
- A powerful 18-inch brake system including blue brake calipers (with R logo at the front)
- Customised exterior and interior equipment
Volkswagen describe the newly developed technology as not just distributing the drive power between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels using a specially engineered multi-plate clutch coupling system. How this works is by directing up to 100% of the possible torque to the wheel on the outside of the bend.
During our racetrack experience we found this technology to noticeably improve the handling agility when cornering at speed, delivering outstanding grip and stability. For city driving we felt this system came into play to deliver improved corner handling through the reduced bend radius, minimising the understeering effect. The suspension, however, was hard, as we felt most ruts and bumps in the road around the city, which you might expect from a performance car.
Performance – a race to the heart
There is no denying that the R Range will send the heart pumping a little quicker. And while the SUV variant isn’t going to deliver that same blood-pumping drive as the Golf R, the powerful 2.0L turbocharged TSI petrol engine with its 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque will still create a similar adrenalin rush - even when slithering through suburban traffic at rush-hour.
When it comes to fuel economy there is a compromise, you will have to sacrifice Frugal for Fun. With a combined fuel consumption of 9.7L/100km, and a CO2 rating of 220g/km, owners will need to pay the extra Clean Car Fee of $1,995. When compared with other medium SUVs in this price range there aren’t too many in the market right now. There is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio with a fuel economy of 7.0L/100km, and the Cupra Ateca VZ, which also comes close but is almost $14k less in price, at 7.7L/100km. So, owning a Tiguan R means the R for Racing will cost you more to run.
We experienced a slight delay on throttle response when punching the accelerator to the floor but when it got going the performance was impressive. By tapping the large, illuminated R on the steering wheel you can toggle through “Comfort” and “Sport” drive modes. Push harder and the system will automatically engage the most aggressive “Race” mode.
We used “Race” mode mostly as it’s a lot of fun on the country roads and quick to the posted speed limit, but must confess we felt a bit foolish when accelerating from the inner-city traffic lights with all the exhaust noises going on – not really what we are used to hearing from an SUV.
These drive modes were handy to have though, as driving on the congested motorway into the city we used the more relaxed “Comfort” mode, which did calm the experience down a bit – much like patting a cat.
The sporty R DNA is on full display with the exterior customised equipment which includes bumpers in R design with aerodynamic elements, exterior mirror covers in matte chrome, and a body-coloured rear spoiler. And we only have one word to describe those wheels – awesome. There is no doubt this is an R model, with those large blue brake callipers on full display.
Some may feel the Volkswagen SUVs to be a little on the conservative side when it comes to exterior styling, but when seen in the stunning Lapiz blue colour the Tiguan R is anything but bland.
From the moment you climb into the driver seat you feel the R DNA start to accelerate your heart a little quicker. Kicked-off with features such as the 'Nappa' leather sport seats with the R logo (power-adjustable with memory function) with both heating and ventilation and the leather-wrapped, multifunction sports steering wheel. The sport-like steering wheel is a little special, making you feel like slipping on the racing gloves with paddles for manual control providing responsive feedback and precision control.
The dash sports a customised 10.25″ Active Info Display with integrated lap timer, as well as R-specific decorative trim (Carbon Grey). The decorative trim elements are illuminated via the 30-colour ambient lighting.
Like a true SUV there is ample leg and headroom for most heights, with adjustments for all positions – you can even recline the seats flat if you so please. There is also ample storage with multiple compartments to store small possessions including convenient phone holders in the front seatbacks.
The expandable boot space is more than adequate for a family holiday with 615 litres of luggage space, expanding to 1655 litres with the rear seats folded. And with a tow rating of 2,200kg this medium SUV can adequately bring the boat or caravan along too.
As you'd expect from Volkswagen, the Tiguan R is stacked with safety features and wears the same five-star ANCAP safety rating the rest of the range earned back in 2016. Advanced safety features included as standard are Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with Travel Assist and Lane Keeping System.
For viability is the Area View Camera, which provides live images of a full 360-degree vision, sending the view straight to the infotainment screen. This is a must in a medium SUV, not only as a safety feature when reversing but also when navigating inner-city parking by helping to ensure that manoeuvring and parking is as easy as possible.
Overall, the Tiguan is a practical commuter for those school drop-offs, and family holidays and it can transform into a performance SUV at the touch of a switch when you feel the urge. A great all-rounder AWD SUV that will keep the adrenalin pumping through the veins when selecting the “Race” drive mode.
- True performance medium SUV
- Great for cornering
- Spacious interior with ample leg room
- Sporty look and feel
- Firm ride
- Thirsty at 9.7L/100km
- Slight delay in throttle response
At a glance
Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line AWD 2022
2.0-litre 4-Cylinder Turbocharged
ANCAP safety rating
5 Star (tested 2016)
Power and Torque
7 Speed DSG
9.7L/100km / 220g/km
2,200kg (Braked), 750kg (Unbraked)
ALL Wheel Drive
Luggage capacity/Rear bench
- Electronic Stability Programme (ESP®)
- Electornic Differential Lock (EDL)
- Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)
- Trailer stabilisation
- Driver and front passenger front airbags
- Driver and front passenger side airbags
- Side airbags at the rear (outer rear seats)
- Curtain airbags (Front and rear)
- Driver knee airbag
- Child seat top tether anchorage points on outer rear seats (x2)
- Anti-theft 'Plus' alarm system
- Seatbelt reminder (Front and rear seats)
- 3-point seat belts for all passengers
- Proactive Occupant Protection System
- Front Assist incl. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning
- Pedestrian Monitoring
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Travel Assist and Emergency Assist
- Lane Assist (Lane Keeping System)
- Side Assist Plus (Blid Spot Monitor)
- Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator
- Rest Assist Driver fatigue detection
- Hill Descent Control
- Rear View Camera with dynamic guideline
- Area View Camera
- Park Distance Control (front and rear parking sensors)
- Park Assist (Parallel parking assistant)
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