What is it?
The R-Line sits at the top of the Tiguan range. Like other R-Line models, the main draws are more aggressive-looking bumpers and side skirts, big alloy wheels and a sporty makeover for the interior.
In keeping with the go-faster looks, you can’t get an engine below 148bhp, and you can’t opt for the 1.4-litre TSI petrol, either. That limits you to the 2.0-litre TSI with 178bhp, the 2.0-litre TDI with 187bhp, or the familiar 148bhp TDI that will make up the majority of sales.
Interestingly, Volkswagen also says that the vast majority of models sold are optioned with 4Motion four-wheel drive as well. That’s why we’re testing here the 148bhp TDI with all four wheels driven – in this case through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. What’s it like in the UK?
What’s it like?
As we’ve previously found out, the TDI engine in this state of tune offers performance that’s adequate, if little more. There’s certainly enough power to get it up to motorway speeds at a reasonable lick, although you might want to think twice about overtaking on a single carriageway with some weight in the car.
The addition of the dual-clutch automatic gearbox doesn’t make any difference to performance, although it does knock fuel economy a little. It’s certainly a decent ‘box to use, offering smooth shifts when in normal use. Our only complaint is that it can be slightly hesitant when you ask for a burst of acceleration at low speeds.
The biggest difference to the way the R-Line Tiguan drives comes from the addition of 20in wheels and sports suspension. With no adaptive dampers, we had therefore expected the ride to be uncomfortably firm. To the R-Line’s credit, it rode sharp-edged bumps and dips far better than expected, but it’s still stiffer than is ideal for a family car.
Wide tyres mean plenty of grip, but there’s no change to how the Tiguan behaves on the limit. It might be the sportiest model, but you still can’t fully disable the stability control and it naturally understeers. The Tiguan isn’t bad for a small SUV, but the cheaper Seat Ateca is more fun to drive.
As with lesser-specced Tiguans, the R-Line is extremely spacious for both front and rear passengers, and a sliding rear bench means you can prioritise either leg room or boot space in the back. The sports seats are pretty comfortable, but in reality look more supportive than they actually are, and we did find some of the interior plastics slightly disappointing in terms of quality. The materials on the upper dash and top of the front door cards are pleasingly soft, but there’s plenty of hard scratchy stuff around the centre console, lower dash and on the rear door cards. Our test car would have cost more than £37,000 with extras, and we would have expected better from Volkswagen.
Still, you’ll find plenty of premium-grade technology in the Tiguan. All models receive autonomous emergency braking and lane assist, and plenty of other goodies are available. R-Line models get a configurable 12.3in digital display instead of conventional dials, adaptive cruise control and full LED headlights.
Should I buy one?
While we would wholeheartedly recommend looking at a Tiguan, the R-Line model is too expensive to recommend. It may be a good car, but at this price point it can’t compete with the interior quality of similarly priced premium rivals, or the value for money of the Seat Ateca; even a top-spec Ateca is thousands of pounds cheaper than this Volkswagen.
The Seat may not offer the sliding rear bench or some of the electronic gizmos of the Tiguan, but it’s just as spacious, handles better and offers all the equipment you’d ever realistically need.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 4motion 150 DSG
Location West Sussex; On sale Now; Price £35,125; Engine four-cylinder, 1968cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm Torque 251lb ft 1750-3000rpm Gearbox seven-speed dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1849kg; Top speed 125mph; 0-62mph 9.3sec; Economy 49.6mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 149g/km, 29% Rivals Seat Ateca; BMW X1
What is it?