However, from a practical perspective ,I found myself coming back to one vehicle in particular, not because it was excessively fast, overly luxurious or because of the way it made me feel, but rather because this car was simply excellent in all of the areas that matter. The car in question is the new Volkswagen Tiguan.
I first drove the new VW SUV in Comfortline manual guise and felt that a superb package was let down slightly by the powertrain, which was laggy and not quite up to scratch. During the December period though, I had the 110kW DSG-equipped version of the Tiguan and this is where the whole car seemed to make sense.
You see, the addition of slightly more power (some 18kW or so) and the inclusion of the intuitive and rapid DSG gearbox made the Tiguan just about as good as a small SUV can be in my opinion.
The 1.4-litre TSI motor has found favour with South Africans and for good reason; it balances reasonable power, which in this guise is 110kW/250Nm with exceptional fuel consumption. It has cylinder deactivation technology which means that under low load the motor only makes use of two of the four cylinders. The result is a car that can achieve great consumption on the open road and in town. Regarding the latter, it must be said that there is still some noticeable turbo lag.
I covered some 3 500km in the car and returned 7.2 litres/100km, which is still off from the 6.1 litres/100km claim but impressive nevertheless. The Tiguan also features a scoring system whereby the driver goes in to the media system and check their score out of 100 points to determine how efficiently he/she is driving. If your score isn’t stellar, the car will coach you can provide tips to bring your consumption down; it helped during long journeys where I got bored and tried to implement the tips and tricks.
Speaking of the infotainment system, I pulled the old iPod out of my drawer at home to plug in to the USB slot and activated Apple CarPlay, which basically turns your infotainment system in to one large Apple screen. There is also Android Auto compatibility, however, I could not get my phone to work with the system.
Other technologies that made my life easier were the adaptive cruise control, which regulates your speed according to the vehicle in front of you, as well as the Active Info Display which allows the driver to customise the instrument binnacle to include things like fuel consumption, range, media and a variety of other options. In short, this means you never have to glance down at the infotainment screen in order to see key vehicle information or adjust something media related.
I was impressed with the level of refinement in the previous model I drove, yet this DSG version really takes the effort of driving away. The car whispers along and despite the fact that my test unit had the R-Line package with sporty suspension, massive 19-inch wheels with relatively low profile tyres, the ride and refinement remained of a high quality.
My test unit also had optional extras like a Dynaudio sound system and full panoramic sunroof , although these are not strictly necessary and will drive the cost of the car up. One option worth ticking is that R-Line body kit which really makes the car look fantastic.
In summation, the Tiguan looks great, is efficient, built very well and is certainly a top contender for the 2017 South African Car of the Year title.