Wednesday, April 05, 2017


The Malaysian C segment SUV market is a burgeoning market. Everyone is in it. Super tough market. Super, super tough. It's so tough we have the Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Germans, the French and also most probably the Americans via Ford or Jeep. Speaking about Jeep, I don't even remember if they still have stock of their Jeep Whatsitsname compact SUV. Don't ask me. I just can't remember.

Anyway before I go off tangent, I had a go in the latest Sports Utility Vehicle to be launched in Malaysia. The new Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI. It was one of those media drives that took me up north to Ipoh and back again. I managed to try out both variants on sale here, the more affordable Tiguan Comfortline and the better equipped Tiguan Highline.

Both look similar on the outside. The only real clues to which is which are the slightly larger alloy wheels on the Highline (18inches from 17inches) and the slimmer, more stylish looking LED headlights and LED running lights up front that graces its nose (which have . The LED headlights also have design lines that actually incorporate better into the design of the car. It looks more cohesive than the halogen headlights and the normal halogen running lights of the Comfortline. (See the photo above for the Highline and the one directly below for the Comfortline).

As for the overall look of this new Tiguan, I must say that it looks better proportioned. It looks like they've taken the nose from the latest Volkswagen Passat and plonked it onto a taller, wider Volkswagen Golf hatchback. It has that 'wheel at each corner' stance. It makes the car look sporty and inherently stable. If you were to compare this with the outgoing Tiguan it is a big improvement. The old one was curvy, more feminine looking. Not that looking feminine is a bad thing. I mean I wouldn't want Margot Robbie to look anything like Jack Black if you know what I mean. But since this is a SUV, it actually benefits looking more like a Tonka toy than Barbiemobile. And so in terms of how it looks. I am sold.

Inside we have the typical well planned Volkswagen interior. It looks very well thought out with quality plastics, good leather and quality looking trim materials used. There is a high level of perceived quality inside basically. In terms of ergonomics, one can just jump into any Volkswagen, adjust the seat, rear view mirrors and drive off without any complaints. All under a couple of minutes. Everything is where it is supposed to be. I still think the steering wheel control buttons could be made a little larger but operating all the knobs, switches and controls is a breeze. The quality is good too. Everything is good to touch and the interior design looks stylish in that slightly sparse, usable sort of way.

This is especially so with the Highline. The Active Info Display (AID) is like the one in the more expensive Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TSI Highline. The AID is a fully digital Hi-Res display takes up the whole meter cluster area and is fully customisable to suit. I like it because if you use the navigation function you still keep your eyes to the front of the car whilst driving. The Comfortline makes do with analog dials and a more simple touchscreen headunit. Adequate actually. And to those that like 'less is more' it is more than adequate actually. No navigation only actually. 

For the moment, Volkswagen only assembles one engine type of the Tiguan here in Malaysia. Both the COmfortline and Highline come with the latest 1.4liter TSI engine. This is a direct injection, turbocharged engine which makes 150PS annd 250Nm torque. It is a revised engine with a lot more new parts (which should add to its durability). It is coupled to Volkswagen's 6 speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG). What I like about this 6 speed DSG is that it is a wet clutch type of dual clutch transmission. In simple terms, the clutches sit in the transmission fluids, making them less susceptible to heat releated wear. So personally, this is one less problem to think about when you crawl, day in, day out in traffic. It is actually more robust than the 7 speed DSG. So this makes this new Tiguan better than the Tiguan 1.4 TSI. 

The drive experience.

It's a Volkswagen. It drives like how a properly designed German car woudl drive. If you talk about outright performance, this isn't the Volkswagen for you. This has ample performance for inter-urban drives. That school run. The trip to the office and for that occasional jaunt outstation. It will not set the dragstrip on fire because the 1.4liter turbocharged engine is still a small capacity engine lugging a 1,500kg (1485kg unladen) SUV. What this car would feel is similar to something like a normally aspirated 2.4liter D segment sedan. It would accelerate like one and do the 0-100kmh time in around 8.9 seconds. Feels slightly slower sometimes. If you are gunning it, you still need to give it some welly and keep the revs up in making quick progress.

But since its a German designed SUV, it feels stable cruising at speeds higher than the national speed limit (110kmh). It is slightly susceptible to crosswinds above those speeds but everything feels at ease inside whilst driving it. We did up to 180kmh on some stretches of road but it feels most secure at under 160kmh. At 110kmh, the Tiguan is refined and planted. And another reason to cruise at around this speed or just 10-20kmh more (if you think you are immune to speeding tickets) is the fact that there is noticeable wind noise coming from the A-pillars at speeds higher than this. The rest of the Tiguan is quiet at a high speed cruise aside from this little fault. But still within my (high) levels of standards.

As for handling. Again, its a Volkswagen. You can punt it into corners on a windy road and it responds well to your inputs. No. Not as good as a lower to the ground Golf or even the larger Passat. But it works well. Drive the Tiguan spiritedly and you could be a little happy. Not as happy as if you drove a Golf, but happy enough if you compared it with some other makes. I would rate it good enough for what it is - an urban SUV for the commute but in terms of outright handling and performance, it is just adequate. 

The Tiguan leans very slightly into a corner. The tail is obedient. Too obedient in some ways. It basically follows the front and the 1.4liter engine isn't strong enough to overcome traction. Easier to try to do so in the Comfortline's 17inch wheel and tyre combo but not by much compared to the slightly grippier Highline's 18inch tyres. Good in some ways as its a SUV for urban commutes, not the Dakar Rally. 

The ride is quite plush too. There is a good balance between ride and handling with this new Tiguan. As stated earlier, the 1.4 TSI engine still needs to be wrung out to get the best out of it on a twisty stretch of road. So that being said, you buy the Tiguan for what it is. What it isn't is a Golf GTI obviously. It is first and foremost, a urban SUV. 

You would buy the Tiguan for the fact that it is a SUV with its high ground clearance and practicality. Of course, I must add that if you like the visibility a high riding SUV gives you, don't go on a convoy with other similar high riding SUVs. Any notion of that elevated driving position giving you better visibility is thrown out of the window as the next five cars in front of you is of the same height. So folks, imagine if everyone thought like you and bought high riding SUVs. Status quo is back again. You'd ask to drive lorries after this.

I found out that the Tiguan is a well designed SUV on the media drive. I even managed to try out some competitors courtesy of the organisers - a Honda CRV 2.0 (not nice to drive in corners at all), Mazda CX-5 (closest in terms of handling dynamics) and a Nissan X-Trail 2.5 (surprisingly a very decent drive and in the hands of a capable driver, could be hustled but performance is held back by the drivetrain and longer wheelbase). The Tiguan basically feels nicer to drive than all of them - in the slalom, tight turns, under emergency braking. It will outhandle all of the SUVs mentioned. I must say that it comes as no surprise as its a Volkswagen. So in terms of vehicle dynamics, even this Tiguan 1.4 TSI comes out tops.   

This new Tiguan is testament that Volkswagen still comes out with well designed cars. It is also pushing hard to recover lost ground in the Malaysian market which is why this car comes with a heavily revised powertrain and drivetrain as well as a longer manufacturer warranty of 5 years from Volkswagen. 

Since it is assembled in Pekan, Pahang with EEV (the Malaysian Energy Efficient Vehicle) certification, its prices are competitive. From RM148,990 for the Comfortline and RM168,990 for the Highline. Whilst I personally don't really care about LEDs or larger wheels, I must state that in this case the Highline looks way better than the Comfortline. The extra equipment inside, especially the A.I.D instrument cluster is also nice to look at. So this time, I'd prefer the Highline. Yup, a little vain here. Need those slightly nicer looks this time around.

So price wise, the new Tiguan is competitive. It isn't the lowest priced of them all but it is one of the better equipped and better designed SUVs in the Malaysian market at this point of time. And right now it also is the newest. Which is an important thing for some people. 


Pros: Well designed compact SUV, good equipment levels in both variants, Highline looks more cohesive in terms of headlight design, Comfortable, refined, handling is very good for a SUV, 5 star Euro NCAP is a bonus , adequate performance from 1.4liter engine...

Cons: ...some people like more than adequate power, noticeable wind noise over 120kmh

Conclusion: Could be the best handling affordable SUV on sale today in terms of bag per buck, wish it had a tad bit more power, less wind noise too. Space wise the 5 seater Tiguan is well designed, equipment levels ensure a lot of toys inside. Volkswagen make fun to drive cars. That hasn't changed with this Tiguan.

Specifications (and more photos down below).
Comfortline: from RM148,990 (without insurance)
Highline: from RM168,990 (without insurance)

Note: Save RM7,000 when you book before 30th April 2017.

1.4liter TSI direct injection turbocharged
250Nm torque

6 speed wet clutch dual clutch gearbox

1485kg unladen

0-100kmh in 8.9 seconds

Max Speed:

Fuel Consumption:
Combined manufacturer's figure: 6.7liters/100km
Heavy footed, long idle times, enthusiastic journalists in car figure: 10.3liters/100km. (A reasonable figure of 7-8.5liters/100km should be easy to achieve)

1.4TSI Comfortline

8-inch touchscreen "Composition Media" entertainment system with USB, iPod Interface, AUX-In, Bluetooth and 8 speakers 

'Climatic' air-conditioning system with temperature control

'Premium' (MFD) colour instrument cluster display

Automatic headlights and rain sensor

Electronic parking brake with Auto-hold function

'Montana' alloy wheels 7J x 17"

'Rhombus' fabric seat upholstery

Leather multi-function steering wheel with audio, telephone and on-board computer controls

6 airbags

Paddle Shifters

1.4TSI Highline

8-inch touchscreen 'Discover Media' entertainment system with navigation, USB and iPod interface, SD card slot, AUX-IN, Bluetooth and 8 speakers, with optional App-Connect upgrade

12.3-inch full colour Active Info Display with five modes

'Air Care Climatronic' air-conditioning system with 3-zone temperature control

'Vienna' combination leather seat upholstery

Driver seat with electric 12-way adjustment and powered 4-way lumbar support

'Keyless Access' keyless locking and starting system

Electric tailgate

Park Assist 3.0

Multi-view rear-view camera

'Kingston' alloy wheels 7J x 18"

Adaptive LED lighting system1.4TSI Highline

8-inch touchscreen 'Discover Media' entertainment system with navigation, USB and iPod interface, SD card slot, AUX-IN, Bluetooth and 8 speakers, with optional App-Connect upgrade

12.3-inch full colour Active Info Display with five modes

'Air Care Climatronic' air-conditioning system with 3-zone temperature control

'Vienna' combination leather seat upholstery

Driver seat with electric 12-way adjustment and powered 4-way lumbar support

'Keyless Access' keyless locking and starting system

Electric tailgate

Park Assist 3.0

Multi-view rear-view camera

'Kingston' alloy wheels 7J x 18"

Adaptive LED lighting system

 Leather for the Highline's Seats

 Note the round analog instrument dials and cloth fabric for the seats of the Comfortline above.

 Comfortline, above vs Highline, below.

 Highline, above, Comfortline, below.


  1. Thanks for your frank and objective review of this SUV !

  2. Replies
    1. Well, I will try to get some Mazda to be reviewed for 2018. Fingers crossed.

  3. Highline won on aesthetic & gadget appeal.

    Ride & handling should be on par.

    Comfortline invariably has an edge in long term maintenance cost; highline's tonnes of electronic & sensors will cost a bomb from 5 yrs of ownership onward��


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