Our long-term Volkswagen Tiguan Life has been doing duty almost exclusively as a daily runner so it was time to fill up, load up and go for a drive outside Gauteng.
We’d settled on Kaapsehoop having been invited by a friend who had been singing the town’s praises and I’ve also been itching to pop into “Nagkantoor” a pub and restaurant owned by legendary investigative reporter De Wet Potgieter.
A place where people of the industry gather around and swap war stories and tales of deadlines, scoops and colourful characters.
It’s a good thing that there’s 520 litres of boot space because you know, three bags for the lady and one for me, all of which fitted easily.
The plan was simple; drive the N4 and take the turn to Kaapsehoop and after 315 kilometres enjoy the weekend.
It would also be the first time I’d get to properly test the optional IQ Drive package with Adaptive Cruise Control.
Our unit also came with optional Vienna leather seats, 19-inch Victoria alloys, Area View camera system with Park Assist, Lane Change System and Autonomous Emergency Braking, panoramic sunroof and folding trailer hitch.
My partner easily connected her phone via Bluetooth to the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system so that we could listen to music and keep it charging on the wireless charging pad.
Biltong and droëwors packed we hit the highway with the cruise control set at 130km/h with Google maps showing a true speed of 124km/h.
Various sections of the highway are under repair thanks to the constant pounding of thousands of coal trucks heading to the various Mpumalanga power stations because the railway network built specifically for that reason has been destroyed through government ineptitude, zero maintenance, theft and a myriad of other reasons already well documented.
I specifically let the Cruise Control do its thing, slowing down to about 40km/h and then speeding up as the lanes opened again.
With some manufacturers the car drops two or three gears and almost redlines as it picks up speed but the Tiguan gently drops one gear and allows the 1.4-litre TSI Turbo petrol engine to gather the 100kW and 250Nm and propel the front wheels forward without any histrionics before settling into sixth gear of the DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the space that the radar system allows between the Tiguan and the car in front is actually for other road users to squeeze in. Unbelievable, as are so many of our fellow road users’ driving manners.
Just past Emalahleni a traffic officer stepped into a busy highway to pull us off to tell us that we were just over the limit at 132km/h.
I showed him the 130km/h setting and told him the Maps GPS reading was 124km/h to which his reply jokingly was that I should sue Volkswagen, Google and the Metro for bad readings.
With a warning to be careful he let us continue on our way.
Kaapsehoop is 1,640 metres above sea level on the Drakensberg Highveld escarpment and is often covered in clouds and mist which is what greeted us when I recognised good mate and fellow motoring journalist Marius Roberts’ car outside one of the restaurants.
He’s filming the second season of his “Just To See How Far It Is” documentary where he travels the country off the beaten track mostly wild camping with his three dogs as companionship.
After a good catch up and a few laughs when we pulled up outside our accommodation, consumption stood at 7.2l/100km. During some of the longer flat stretches it had gone down to 7.0l/100km.
The boot again came in handy with the purchase of an antique oak cabinet that fitted in effortlessly without having to split the rear seats or move them forward.
I did find though that the Camera Park Assist alarms were very sensitive and the Autonomous Emergency Braking had my heart in my throat once or twice when it slammed on brakes in reverse with a small bush still two metres away.
A final drive through the town avoiding the famous wild horses on Sunday with our luggage now on the back seats, saw us point the nose of the Tiguan back home.
The 24 kilometre stretch back to the N4 has some fantastic curves and switchbacks and while the Tiguan isn’t the fastest or lowest slung SUV, it’s nimble enough in Sport Mode to get some adrenaline in the veins when you give it a push and a response from my partner along the lines of “why do you always have to do this?”
Back home after 632 kilometres the consumption readout was 8.0l/100km.
The Tiguan has really grown on me, it’s a pleasant combination of comfort, technology, handling, consumption and a fantastic all rounder that gets on effortlessly with its business without grabbing the headlines.
The Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Life is priced from R686,700 (November 2023).