TESTED: Volkswagen Tiguan TDI is frugal and great to drive, albeit pricey

Published Sep 6, 2023


As more new car models get released we’re also unfortunately getting fewer diesel options.

Blame the greenies, EU and whoever you want but the reality is that as legislation forces New Energy Vehicles onto us, oil burners hardly feature in manufacturers’ plans at all.

Never mind that with technology they’ve become a lot cleaner than authorities are willing to admit and that as fuel prices continue to rocket, consumption starts to play a more important role. We’ve been told that diesel is bad and that is that.

Which is why the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI R-Line 4Motion comes, dare I say it? as a breath of fresh air.

It’s available only in R-Line guise that includes VW’s IQ.LIGHT LED Matrix with 22 individual LEDs with adaptive high beam function.

I’m always impressed by the technology that automatically dips the lights when it senses oncoming cars and it seems that all manufacturers use the same parameters.

There’s a stretch of road on my way home that’s pitch dark because, you know; cable thieves, lack of maintenance, the usual level of service delivery and every car I’ve tested cancels the high beam in that area so you have to override it like we did in the old days. It’s not a complaint mind you, just an interesting observation.

The model we had on test was fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof and Black Style Package that replaces the chrome bits with gloss black trim, rear privacy glass and 20-inch Suzuka alloys instead of the standard 19-inch Valencia rims, presenting an appealing package.

Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine producing 130kW and a decent 380Nm of torque, powering all four wheels via the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system coupled to a silky smooth seven-speed DSG gearbox.

Inside it’s typical VW premium build quality and in the R-Line the electrically adjustable seats are Vienna leather embroidered with the “R” logo. Perhaps it was because my back was playing up but I did find the seats to be a bit on the hard side.

There’s also ambient lighting, which is a cool addition, but I’ve never actually changed it from the default so perhaps I’ll take a closer look next time and see if it makes a difference to my driving mood and experience.

Standard it comes with an eight-inch touchscreen but our test unit was fitted with the optional Discover Media Pro system with wireless App-Connect for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with MirrorLink, and as you would expect the instrument cluster is digital with configurable displays.

If you like your music there’s a Harman Kardon system with eight speakers and a subwoofer.

I’m aware that VW is reviewing the whole digital and touch controls issue but for now the Tiguan 2.0 TDI R-Line 4Motion still has things like climate control and steering wheel touch controls which are somewhat fiddly and distracting.

There’s ample space for rear passengers with the seats mounted on a rail, allowing for more legroom, and on a highway trip to Parys there were no complaints from two tall adults.

For me the strong point of this Tiguan is the driving comfort, it really is a pleasure to pilot.

Remembering that it’s a diesel, so you’re not going to get blistering performance with slight turbo lag on initial take off. Once everything’s spooled up though it glides along effortlessly with the torque keeping things moving along nicely. If you do want some spirited driving though there’s always the Sport Mode option which shows up the superb suspension and chassis set-up handling sharp corners and bends effortlessly especially for an SUV.

The 4Motion system provides an extra layer of confidence on gravel roads and it will gladly handle your inner rally driving aspirations but the standard 19-inch rims would probably be better in this application.

VW claim consumption figures of 6.6l/100km and after a week we settled on 7.4l/100km however colleague Jason Woosey managed 5.8l/100km on a down run to Durban and 6.1l/100km on the trip back.

The Tiguan 2.0TDI R-Line 4Motion is a well appointed and lovely car to drive but at R829 200 before options it’s expensive and won’t be in the average person’s sights.