2009 Volkswagen Tiguan: A Tiger of a CUV
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Monday, June 08, 2009
Volkswagen’s newest offering may not be catlike in the sleekest sense, but it is versatile, and may have nine uses, if not nine lives. The allusion to cats is brought into mind due to the quizzical name given this new VW, a crossover called “Tiguan.” According to Volkswagen officials, the name Tiguan comes from a combination of tiger and iguana.
We’ve seen many cat-cars – Jaguar, Cougar, Cheetah and Wildcat come to mind – but I don’t recall many cars named after lizards. Alpha Romeo tried it in 1969 with the 33 Concept Alpha also called the Iguana; Saleen produces a Raptor and I have heard of a limited-production off-road, dune buggy-type vehicle called the Iguana.
But back to Volkswagen, the Tiguan has a unique name, but it borrows its chassis elements from Rabbit, Jetta and Passat in VW’s first compact sport utility vehicle, designed to compete in the down-sized SUV pool as a CUV.
Tiguan fits the parameters for being a small CUV, if not a compact SUV with exterior measurements of 173.3 inches in length, 71.2 inches in width, 66.3 inches in height and 6.9 inches of ground clearance on a wheelbase 102.5 inches.
Employing European design cues, Tiguan borrows faithfully from VW’s Concept-A vehicle that was paraded around press events and car shows a few years back. While the Concept-A prototype was more athletic looking, sleeker and lower to the ground, Tiguan’s sightlines are better with a profile and stance that are more mainstream. A forward slope, bold grille and muscular headlight and front corner arrangements make Tiguan an attractive road and driveway car.
My test vehicle was covered in Sapphire blue metallic paint, and perhaps Mystic Chameleon optical shift paint would have been an interesting choice for a lizard car, but the blue was an attractive color for this small sports-ute.
Tiguan power comes from a turbocharged 4-cylinder 2.0-liter TSI engine that hums out 200 horsepower and 207 lbs.-ft of torque. Designed to deliver muscle and economy, with four valves per cylinder and direct fuel injection, the powerplant is EPA rated at 18mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway using premium fuel. A full week of testing in mixed environs and scenarios yielded an average of 19.7mpg.
Weighing in at about 3700 pounds, the 200 turbo-horses are steady, but not overly aggressive. While VW claims zero-to-60 times of 7.9 seconds, my test vehicle, tuned as one you would drive off the car lot, was only able to muster non-catlike 8.6 speed for the sprint, en route to a 16.8-second quarter-mile.
The optional 4Motion® all-wheel-drive with adaptive torque distribution, working in concert with a European-tuned suspension and electronic stability control produced a smooth, comfortable ride and better handling than most utes convey. Response was solid, cornering was confident and body roll was kept to a minimum at most speeds, though high-speed maneuvers showed a bit of upper-body waver.
The wheel-locating McPherson strut axle assembly with triangular lower wishbone, and single-piece aluminum sub frame up front combined with a rear four-link independent steel spring suspension are more than enough to form an enhanced driving and riding experience in the cabin.
The Charcoal interior utilizes an upscale approach used by its sister, the VW Golf-Plus. Intuitive and thoughtfully placed, controls and instruments make for a solid in-auto home for inhabitants. Roomy for a small CUV, Tiguan’s interior dimensions measure 39.1 of front headroom with 39.0 inches in row two, shoulder room of 56.2 and 54.8 with leg room of 40.1 and 35.8.
Cabin niceties include a heated 8-way partial power driver seat with lumbar , ceiling console, air conditioner, pollen filter, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, power windows, power locks, cruise control, four 12-volt power points, an AUX jack for music players, and an electronic parking brake.
Safety features are not overlooked as VW has installed ABS brakes with Brake Assist, electronic stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, driver and front passenger airbag supplemental restraint system, side curtain protection head airbags, dual-front airbags, airbags, front and rear side thorax and rear interlock feature in which the center rear safety belt cannot be extended unless the seat back is in fully locked positions.
The 2009 Tiguan in SE trim is priced at $26,925, but my test ride was outfitted with nearly $9000 in add-ons. Sapphire blue metallic exterior paint was no charge, but the 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and 4-Motion added $1950; hip New York-style 18-inch wheels added $1600; Panoramic sunroof and wind deflector added 1386; Base carrier bars (roof rack) added $306; Hood bug deflector cost $100; Side door wind deflectors were $209; Trailer hitch and ball mount added $450; DVD navigation with a rearview camera added $1990; Premium floor mats cost $132; Luggage net and trunk liner added $171 for a bottom line of $35,219 plus $695 in destination charges for a sticker price of $35,914.
The Tiguan may not resemble a cat or a lizard, but it is a very attractive and well-performing addition to the CUV genre.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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