Volkswagen Tiguan

What is it?

A mid-life refresh of a surprisingly popular model. VW's compact SUV might have slipped under the radar previously but its Touareg-aping new style adds some real appeal to its looks. The changes are concentrated around the front grille, headlights and taillights, but the transformation is impressive, from forgettable wallflower to a far more stylish and appealing competitor in the ever-growing compact SUV marketplace. It's offered in front- and four-wheel drive guises, with a range of six engines - though only a handful of buyers choose the petrol engines over the diesel units.

Is it any good?

Predictably so, yes. While the Tiguan may not excite on the road as much as its key Ford Kuga rival might, it's a well rounded and capable package. The new look does give it a bit more presence, but despite the optional availability of a variable damping system and XDS differential - as used on the Golf GTI - the Tiguan remains on the dependable end of the driving spectrum. That's not necessarily a complaint, as it hasn't stopped VW customers buying it in big numbers previously.

New safety kit is added to the range, with lane-keeping and driver alertness systems now offered. You'll want the SE version for the best mix of equipment, as it comes with that fatigue detection system, iPod and Bluetooth connection, dual-zone climate control and a self parking system called Park Assist. The Lane Assist system is optional; it steers he car slightly to help maintain your trajectory on the motorway. We're in the camp that if you need such a system perhaps it's time to pull over for a break.

The diesel engines are smooth and economical, though the 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit does rather lack low-down urgency due to the gearing. That's been optimised for economy, meaning you'll be busy with the gearbox, though even so it'll cover the 0-62mph sprint in a respectable 8.9 seconds. Economy is impressive with an official 47.1mpg quoted, though if you're after the best economy the lower power, front-wheel drive diesels are even more frugal.

As ever the interior feels well constructed from high quality soft touch materials. Passenger space is good, though the boot isn't particularly large.

Should I call the bank manager?

We'd go direct to VW and get it financed there. Pricing is competitive with its rivals and specification across the range is reasonably generous - no Tiguan coming without air conditioning and alloy wheels. The new engine line-up is more economical and emits less, making it less expensive to fuel and tax - the anticipated best selling 140bhp turbodiesel emitting 150g/km in four-wheel drive form, or 139g/km with front-wheel drive. There's no exact pricing currently, but the range will span £21,000 - £27,500 when it reaches showrooms at the end of June.

Summary

It's just a shame that, with the new looks, VW didn't inject a bit more fun, as, however competent an all-round package the Tiguan is, it's not an exciting one. It's a safe choice from VW in every sense of the word. New equipment makes it safer, it'll hold onto its value better than rivals, and it's decently specified as standard. Economy and emissions are good too.

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