Quick Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

Reviews I By Winding Road Staff I January 19, 2012
My first turn in our Volkswagen Tiguan was not ideal. I’d just finished the Lexus GS press event in Las Vegas. My flight required a 30-minute layover at Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and of course, my connection was at the opposite end of that stupidly large airport. After a sprint to make my flight, I woke up to rough air and snowflakes outside the window as we approached Detroit Metro. We landed at 12:09 in the morning, and I snagged the keys to the Tiguan by 12:30. The snow was coming down, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Then I got into the Tiguan. My drive home, while uneventful, was enjoyable. The turbocharged thrust of the Tiggy made the open roads a hoot, while the 4Motion all-wheel drive never set a wheel wrong (it should be noted that it was still much too warm for snow to stick to the ground). The Tiguan was an easy car to get comfortable in, and for that reason delivered an engaging driving experience. You can set the wheel in your lap, easily reach the shifter (there are no paddles, unfortunately), and still have plenty of room all over. The seat is comfy, supportive, and has a nice, wide range of adjustability. Our shifting was handled by a six-speed dual-clutch, although the base Tiguan can be had with a six-speed manual. As is typical with a Volkswagen DSG, shifts were delivered quickly, while downshifts kicked in at appropriate times. Overall, the transmission was quite unobtrusive.
In a market full of bland entries, the Tiguan is unique because it actually wants to be driven. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s still a breath of fresh air in this segment.
—Brandon Turkus, Online Editor
When I took the Tiguan home, I was impressed with the way it handled when turning. There was a notable lack of body roll from side to side, and the car remained pretty flat. It has kind of a wide-feeling stance that makes it feel planted at speed. It also displayed a good amount of grip in corners and on wet or snowy surfaces.
Other than that, the Tiguan doesn’t really feel very inspired. I like Volkswagen’s punchy 2.0-liter turbo in general, but it doesn’t feel like the best fit in this model. Six naturally aspirated cylinders would be more befitting (or, even better, a diesel option). Also, despite its good handling of side-to-side motions, fore/aft movement could be kept in check a bit better.
I do really like the look of the Tiguan’s exterior, and its just-right sizing. Also, the fact that it starts at about $23,000 seems pretty good to me, but you have to spend a few grand more to get into one with all-wheel drive. The lackluster interior also reflects this price. A little bit of clever design would go a long way, here.
—John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor
I like the Tiguan as a package. The Tig has good size, is nice looking (the redesign was a good piece of work for VW), is easily maneuverable in the suburban sprawl, with confidence-inspiring AWD that will never need to prove itself on anything rougher than an icy street. The powertrain is, as is mentioned above, somewhere between “adequate” and “sort of fun” on the enthusiast spectrum, which puts it in the top-half of the crossover segment, at least.
It’s too bad then, that most of the primary driver interfaces seem to be pretty rubbery, non-linear, and/or soft (in a bad way). The steering feels awfully dead around the center to me, and doesn’t load up very progressively in a turn (despite the overall confident handling of the suspension pieces below you). There’s a huge amount of pedal travel between first push and effect with both the brake and the throttle—you’ll want long legs or a close seating position if you intend to try some quick footwork. These sort of gummy, slow-witted controls aren’t bad enough to be actually dangerous, but they start to feel ponderous if you try to have a little fun.
—Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder is an absolute peach
Side-to-side motions are kept in check by the suspension
A great looking small crossover
Manual trans is only available on the most basic, front-wheel-drive model
2.0-liter turbo four is the only engine option
Controls are rubbery overall, not sporting to use. 

The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

The Genesis G90 Bang & Olufsen Audio System

The Genesis G90 Bang & Olufsen audio system has given birth to an exceptional audio experience that redefines in-car sound.

October 27, 2023
Driven: 2023 Toyota GR86 Compliments the Curves

How does the 2023 Toyota GR86 fair on the Tail of the Dragon? Put simply, it’s the perfect tool for tackling the famous curves.

August 21, 2023
Review: Le Mans 100 Book is a Winner

As a devoted motorsport enthusiast, my anticipation for the Le Mans 100 book by Glen Smale was sky-high following the thrilling and unforgettable 24 Hours…

July 07, 2023
Review: The G80 M3 Manual is a Lovable Driving Machine

The G80 M3’s personality is just far too muddied, but at least what it’s courageous enough to express is well-sorted excellence.

June 02, 2023
The Mullin Automotive Museum Immortalizes the Grandeur of French Pre-War Car Culture

What’s behind the doors of the Mullin Automotive Museum aren’t just cars, but works of art in every shape and form.

June 01, 2023


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.