Best-selling SUV has a reputation as something of an all-rounder. Is that still true following a mid-life refresh?
In short, it’s what you’ll see plenty of. The Tiguan is a hugely popular SUV – Volkswagen’s most popular car worldwide, no less – and the Life is, according to VW, going to be the most numerous trim in the UK. And just to add to the all-round popularity stakes, the engine we’re testing in this Ford Kuga rival – the 1.5 TSI 150 – is predicted to be the one that most people will plump for as well.We’re testing it because the whole range has been facelifted, with tweaks to the drive, assist and infotainment systems, along with some worked-over looks. On the last of those, new LED headlights and front bumper, as well as newly designed alloys, are the highlights of the changes. It’s a subtle makeover (aren’t they all?) and has been tailored to bring the car more in line with the larger Touareg, but neither of these observations is a criticism. It’s a sharper-looking car now and has only improved on what was already a decent-looking family SUV. One thing to help the badge spotters out there: if you see a Tiguan with the model name centrally placed under the boot’s VW roundel, you’re looking at the latest car. There are also new trims as part of the facelift. Gone are the S, Match, SEL and R-Line Tech levels, to be replaced by the base Tiguan (no trim level designation on that one), moving up into Life, Elegance and R-Line. Inside, the big change is on the lower tier of the centre dashboard. The new climate control system is now a largely touchscreen set-up, including sliders to change the temperature, and more closely mirrors the 8.0in infotainment set-up above it. Three of the latest USB-C ports – two up front and one in the rear – complete the changes. All these are standard on the Life model.Everything looks very smart (at least until you smear finger marks all over it) and it largely works well, with handy Apple CarPlay or Android Auto app buttons lined up nearest to the driver. But it’s still a touchscreen set-up and it remains a concern about having to take your eyes off the road for too long to adjust it. This is especially relevant to the new sliders controlling the temperature, as they’re a fiddle to change and also a bit low down. The net effect is that you spend too long glancing down. When the rest of the cabin is so well thought out, these aspects go against the grain of the generally superb German logic.Other equipment includes three-zone climate control, phone connectivity, folding and sliding rear seats, and a smart-looking ‘Shooting Star’ cloth upholstery. It all adds up to a cabin that delivers what a buyer needs. It feels as well screwed together as any rival and delivers the blend of smart looks and practicality that Volkswagen has been excelling at for decades. Where you’d be scrabbling around for somewhere to put your water bottle in some rivals, in the Tiguan it just drops into the vast door pocket.