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July 12, 2013

Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

Filed under: solar lighting — Tags: , — solaroutdoorlight @ 6:30 am

In the vast expanse of the exceptionally crowded compact crossover segment, it is inevitable that otherwise worthy alternatives will fall through the cracks. Yes, while the likes of the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 sport new sheet metal and are snatched up no slower than chocolate cupcakes at a dessert table, certain models tend to be completely overlooked.

The Volkswagen Tiguan finds itself in this rather unfortunate predicament, much like the red velvet cupcake. It, too, plays second-fiddle to chocolate at the dessert table, but take a bite and one is instantly drawn in by its delectably sweet core and layer of frosting. But I digress. Like the car on which it’s based, the Golf, it has been around for a while. It boasts neither the sexiest sheet metal, the most powerful engine nor the most cutting-edge technological wizardry. Rather, it does many things well, despite its rather high price, without making much of a fuss.

Take the styling, for example. Onlookers in a shopping mall parking lot would be hard-pressed to stop in their tracks, bewildered by the Tiguan’s unrelenting beauty. It eschews the rounded-off styling so common with many other crossovers, embracing a more traditional two-box design. From the front, it does not look half bad, with its split two-bar chrome grille, finished off by a set of  Wholesale Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Look closer and there is a badge on the grille denoting what makes our particular tester special — the R-Line package. New for 2013, it is available exclusively on the fully loaded, $37,440 Highline trim level. The package adds a handful of goodies to the Tiguan, including the aforementioned headlights as well as tinted tail lights and a spoiler on the hatch. It rides on a set of 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped around 255/40 series rubber, surprisingly (and pleasantly) wide for a car in its class.

The choice in tire width, something otherwise seemingly inconsequential, does wonders for the ride in tandem with another R-like exclusive, the sport-tuned suspension. Though the Tiguan is not the best option for the autocross or the racetrack, its driving dynamics are a wonderful surprise considering high stance. It feels very planted ascending on-ramps, rough pavement and even tight bends, far from the numb and wallowy tendencies of other crossovers.

Steering is tuned toward the light side of the equation

. It takes little effort to manoeuvre around town and in tight parking situations, and gives the driver a reasonable idea of what is going on under the wheels. As a Golf offspring, the Tiguan is not as direct as the GTI or Golf R, but is definitely up there with the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester XT. Outward visibility is good despite the small side-mirrors. Thankfully, the a back-up camera is standard.

Powering the Tiguan is Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. As with many other VW products beating with this heart, it does not take an engineering professor to figure it produces identical numbers to the GTI: 200 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and a 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm. Like the GTI, the Tiguan feels it produces much more thanks to minimal turbo lag and a fairly linear powerband. Keep the radio off and the go-fast pedal pressed far enough and you can even hear the turbo spool up, something more than welcome considering its sporting genealogy.

Where it differs from the GTI is how it puts the power to the ground. The Tiguan is equipped with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Whether or not it has the chops to compete with Subaru and Audi’s systems is yet to be determined, but it certainly inspires confidence knowing all four wheels get horses and torques, regardless of weather conditions.

My only nitpick with the car lies with the transmission. Though the six-speed automatic is respectably smooth and responsive, it is not Volkswagen’s magical-elf-and-pixie-dust-powered dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic. Rather, it is a standard, run-of-the-mill tiptronic slushbox. Slotted into Manual mode, it does not detract from the sporty drive, but I do miss the lightning-quick upshifts and downshifts. Click on their website hmhid for more information.

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