VW family SUV’s amazing new tech

It's not cheap

At more than $50,000 on the road, the R-Line is no bargain basement SUV. It is fully loaded, though, and represents good value compared with the Comfortline Tiguan model it's based on. For roughly $4000 more, you get bigger 19-inch wheels, two-tone seats with R-line embossing and driver assistance tech including adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and rear traffic alert. If you added all the extras to a standard Comfortline, you'd pay more.

The safety tech is clever

Most car makers offer some form of lane keeping assistance and active cruise control to keep you in your lane at a safe distance from the car in front, but the Tiguan's driver assist features work better than most. The steering inputs are smooth and gradual and it's better than most at picking up centre lines and the edge of the road. The emergency assist feature can detect a lack of driving inputs and intervene to wake a drowsy driver. After a certain period of no inputs, it will beep loudly, then it will give a forceful tap on the brakes and tug on the seatbelt. If there's still no response it will activate the hazard lights and gradually bring the car to a standstill. Tech that works!

A comprehensive suite of active safety tech amkes the Tiguan an great family car.
A comprehensive suite of active safety tech amkes the Tiguan an great family car.

The cabin's family friendly

The Tiguan may not look that sleek and stylish from the outside, but the tall, wide stance delivers plenty of knee, elbow and shoulder space inside. The seats are well padded and supportive, there's individual climate control and vents for rear passengers and the airline-style fold-down tray tables are ideal for resting an iPad or colouring in book. The door pockets are generous too, with big bottle holders. Twenty-first century teens are well catered for with two USBs up front and one in the back, complemented by another three 12-volt plugs. The second row of seats can easily be flipped down via levers on each side of a generous load area. A space saver under the floor is par for the course but not ideal.

The Tiguan’s interior is a polished product.
The Tiguan’s interior is a polished product.

Diesel's not an option

Volkswagen has ditched diesel from most of its line-up. You won't miss it too much in the Tiguan, as the 132TSI turbo four-cylinder has more than enough oomph for family duties. It's smooth and willing and matched to the quick-shifting dual-clutch auto (with shift paddles on the steering wheel) it feels pretty sporty. Claimed fuel consumption is 7.5 litres per 100km and we managed low eights in a mix of urban and highway driving. The only drawback is it uses premium unleaded - and diesel is cheaper than petrol at the moment.

Welcome to the digital age

The Volkswagen group was one of the first to do away with analog dials and needles in front of the driver, replacing them with a high-resolution digital screen that can be configured to show navigation, song selections and the usual stuff such as speed and fuel consumption. It debuted on high-end Audis but soon trickled down to Volkswagens. Passengers will be suitably impressed.