VOLKSWAGEN’S Tiguan has established itself as one of its best selling models.
It won’t be much good in the Namibian wilderness, but it’s reasonably capable off road, especially if you go for the ‘Escape’ version that hardly anyone in the UK chooses.
That trim isn’t an option on the entry-level version we’re testing here, the 1.4 TSI 160PS petrol variant.
As with the rest of the Tiguan range, this model has been mildly re-styled, with looks brought into line with the rest of VW’s current range.
The headlights look more complex and feature daytime running LEDs, there’s a wider and more imposing two-bar grille and a sleeker front bumper, too. LEDs also make an appearance in the taillights.
Volkswagen has gone further than most manufacturers in giving its compact 4x4 real pedigree when it comes to off-road driving - and the result is most affordable in this 1.4 TSI 160PS petrol guise.
With 4x4 mechanicals and a package of electronic driver aids, the Tiguan makes a valiant attempt at throwing off the soft-roader stereotypes and differentiating itself from the growing glut of similar vehicles that ply the market place.
Like all Tiguan models, this 1.4 TSI variant in 2WD or 4MOTION guise, comes with alloy wheels, ‘climatic’ semi-automatic air conditioning, a trip computer, all-round electric windows, an alarm, power heated door mirrors and an 8-speaker MP3-compatible CD stereo with DAB digital radio and an AUX-in socket.
A useful option is the park assist system, able to automatically locate, then steer you into the tightest roadside space.
Other popular options include a keyless entry and start system, a vast panoramic glass roof, bi-xenon headlamps and touchscreen sat nav.
Tarmac driving aids include the XDS electronic differential lock to improve handling when driving quickly though bends. And the ACC Adaptive Chassis Control system able to adjust the suspension to suit the mood you’re in and the road you’re on.
Safety kit includes six airbags (with rear sidebags an option) and an ABS system with emergency brake assist for sudden stops instantly advertised to following motorists by hazard warning lights that automatically flash as you screech to a halt.
There are also isofix childseat fastenings, anti-whiplash head restraints and the usual electronic assistance for traction and stability control.
Most models also include an innovative fatigue detection system that focuses on your steering and driving behaviour for the first 15 minutes of every journey, then periodically monitors it thereafter.
If your reactions seem sluggish and indicative of tiredness, the system will bleep at you until you take a break.
Here we have a compact 4x4 with at least some genuine off-road ability for those that want it plus Golf-inspired build quality and driving dynamics for those that don’t. Factor in a highly advanced engine range along with Volkswagen badging that’s certain to go down a storm in this image-conscious sector and the Tiguan’s future would appear to be mapped out.