However, I have to say that when I attended the launch of the new Volkswagen Tiguan and subsequently received one to drive for a week recently, I couldn’t help but think that I was driving one of the favourites for next year’s contest. Before I am accused of being bias, allow me to explain why I feel this vehicle stands a good chance in the 2017 edition of the annual competition.
The right vehicle for now
The Tiguan is an SUV, a compact one at that and in case you haven’t noticed, there has been an almost unbelievably rapid shift towards these high-riding car-based modes of transportation. Couple this with the fact that the car wears the favourable Volkswagen badge and uses the brand’s supreme MQB platform that underpins the likes of the outgoing Golf and Audi A3, and you have a strong contender.
Other prerequisites of a COTY contender is to be noticeably better than the car is replaces and in this case, we have a product which has a bigger boot, more room for occupants, is more efficient, lighter and is more refined than the car it replaces.
It has style
In terms of design, the latest vehicle from the Volkswagen stable is certainly a looker, especially in the resplendent R-Line trim. Even the vehicles without the R18 000 body kit and wheel option look thoroughly modern, with mini-Touareg-esque shape and proportions that are attractive enough to appeal to primarily urban drivers and rugged enough for those more inclined to open road and occasional gravel road driving.
Inside, we have glimpse of what the upcoming Golf facelift will be like in terms of technology as the Tiguan adopts tech seen in the Passat. As is to be expected, the interior is a wonderful place to be, albeit exceptionally clinical and Germanic in its execution, which some may find alluring and others slightly boring.
Just be aware that the items that make the interior a better place to be such as the more desirable infotainment system option as well as the Active Info Display (or Virtual Cockpit as seen in Audi products) will cost you quite a bit. Also note that the likes of adaptive cruise control, head-up display, LED headlamps and a panoramic sunroof to name a few, are all optional extras that could see your Tiguan tick over the R500 000 mark in terms of pricing.
We have established that this car reflects the desires of many consumers by virtue of it being an SUV in addition to it having the looks, the quality, practicality, technology and packaging that make a product successful. But what about the actual act of driving? I have to admit, my test unit was perhaps not the pick of the range for me.
I had the 92kW/200Nm 1.4 TSI with a six-speed manual gearbox. Now in my opinion, this particular configuration does not do the platform and other attributes of the car justice, with notable turbo lag and in certain instances a lack of power.
The 110kW/250Nm 1.4 TSI DSG on the other hand is very likely the pick of the range, despite the fact that there is a 2.0 litre TDI and TSI on the way. Despite needing a smidge more power, my test unit still managed a respectable 7.8 litres/100km on a very mixed driving cycle.
When I look back on 2016 I will certainly remember the Tiguan as a highlight. This, for me, is the new compact SUV segment leader. My one word of caution would be to be cautious when specifying one of these as the optional extras can inflate the price rapidly.
Pricing from R379 900