Test Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives reviews auto articles
2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

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Volkswagen Tiguan on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2011 Volkswagen Tiguan

Considered a “premium” compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV), the Volkswagen Tiguan occupies the high end of the CUV market with suggested retail prices ranging from $27,875 to over $42,000 fully loaded. In fact, well-equipped Tiguan’s are priced close to luxury CUVs like the Acura RDX and BMW X3.

What makes the Tiguan worth more than many other CUVs? Much of it has to do with the Tiguan’s standard 200-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the same engine used in the sporty GTI and Audi A4. But though this is a great engine with generous turbo-induced low-end torque, it isn’t the most powerful engine in its class by any means. The V6 engines in the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, for example, beat it by 40 and 69 horsepower respectively. According to AJAC, the Tiguan (4Motion, 6-speed auto) has a zero to 100 km/h time of 9.2 seconds – downright slow compared to the 269-hp Toyota RAV4 V6 (4WD, 5-speed auto) with 6.7 seconds! And according to the EPA, the Tiguan isn’t even as fuel efficient, with 12.4 city/9.4 hwy vs 12.4 city/9.0 hwy (L/100 km). The kicker is that the RAV4 V6 costs about the same or less than a Tiguan.

Test Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives reviews auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives reviews auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives reviews auto articles
2011 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

What else about the Tiguan justifies its premium reputation? For many VW owners, it’s driving enjoyment. The Tiguan’s Golf-based platform, fully independent suspension, tight, rattle-free body, and well-weighted steering provide lively handling and a pleasurable driving experience that is missing from some of its competitors. My mid-level Comfortline vehicle had the optional “Sport Package” with 18-inch all-season tires, replaced for winter with Pirelli Scorpion snow tires, and a stiffer sport suspension which improves the handling, fortunately without destroying the ride.

Yes, you can get a six-speed manual transmission on the base Trendline and mid-level Comfortline models, but according to Autos.ca reviewer Chris Chase who likes manual transmissions, “the shifter has long throws and offers no satisfaction, and the clutch is spongy.” The optional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual mode is the better choice as it’s a smooth operator and offers a nice highway gear where the engine does only 2,200 r.p.m. at 100 km/h. It also offers a Sport mode with more aggressive shift points, and a Tiptronic manual mode for clutchless manual shifts with the shift lever. This is not VW’s quick-changing six-speed DSG transmission, by the way.

VW’s optional 4Motion all-wheel drive is a hands-off, full-time system that normally runs in front-wheel drive but can send up to 100 per cent of the power to the rear wheels. In icy conditions at slow speeds, it automatically locks up in a 50/50 front/rear split to improve traction, eliminating the need for the driver to press a manual diff lock button on the dashboard, as is the case with many other CUVs. The Tiguan’s 175 mm (6.9 in.) ground clearance is adequate but not as high as some of it competitors. The RAV4, for instance, has 190 mm (7.5 in.).

Four disc brakes with ABS are standard on the Tiguan and AJAC recorded a panic braking distance of 44.3 metres from 100 km/h, compared to 42 metres for the RAV4. Traction control and stability control are also standard on the Tiguan.

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