The Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI. Images: Supplied

Road test: Is VW’s Tiguan 1.4 TSI the true successor to Golf’s legacy?

With the Golf story coming to an end, is this Volkswagen’s most accomplished family vehicle for South Africans?


The Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI. Images: Supplied

The VW Golf has long been a reference vehicle for South African family motoring…But the world is changing and Golf will no longer going be with us in the local market.

Although the Golf8 GTI has been launched and will continue as part of Volkswagen’s local product portfolio for many years, there will be no “standard” range of Golf8 in South Africa.

VW Tiguan closest to Golf in form and function

The German automotive company has anticipated this for many years and transitioned its local product offering to a range of crossovers and SUVs. And the one that is closest to Golf, in terms of size and function, is Tiguan.


VW has given its mid-sized SUV a slight refresh, with some mild cabin functionality upgrades.

We spent some time with the 1.4 TSI version to evaluate if Tiguan concept is still a lead offering in the mid-size SUV market.

When the Tiguan became available locally in 2016, it set new standards for refinement and driver feedback. Using VW’s huge R&D resources, its MQB platform (shared with Golf), is enormously impressive.

Nothing else has matched Tiguan, in the years since its launch. Its ride quality, noise insulation and agility on all road surfaces, remains very impressive.


Where the latest Tiguan gains is an upgrade to the cabin user interface. VW knows that the future is electric, and clues are visible in the latest Tiguan’s cabin architecture and controls.

Touch surfaces have mostly replaced analogue buttons and dials for the ventilation and audio controls.

I prefer having a physical button or dial to adjust ventilation controls and other functions, when driving. This is especially true if I am driving on a gravel road, where it can be very annoying to attempt any adjustment with a touchscreen interface.

VW’s interior designers have found a fair compromise with the Tiguan’s futuristic controls. The temperature and fan-speed controls react to a horizontal finger swipe, as do the steering wheel satellite controls, for several infotainment functions.


Beyond the slicker and more futuristic touch interfacing, the Tiguan’s enduring appeal remains the quality of its driving experience.

Responsive and settled at low speed, the Tiguan is intuitively agile to drive around town. Typical of a German vehicle, it has outstanding high-speed tracking and stability, making city-to-city cruising a pleasant experience.

Our test unit was a 1.4 TSI, using VW’s compact 1.4-litre engine. Not an outrageously powerful turbopetrol at 110kW and 250Nm, but the mechanical magic is Tiguan’s six-speed DSG gearbox.

The Tiguan 1.4 TSI feels swifter than its engine outputs would indicate and never feels lethargic hunting for that gap in freeway traffic, even uphill. It offers convenient automatic transmission driving. Even the most skilled driver with a manual gearbox cannot match the DSG’s shifting logic and speed.


And gravel travel? The Tiguan has 191mm of ground clearance, a quarter more than most legacy hatchbacks or sedans. That makes it a lot comfier on rough secondary roads and gravel backroads.

VW’s engineers have settled on an excellent suspension tune for the Tiguan. It’s firm enough to track accurately around corners, at high speeds, without being harsh on gravel road corrugations or rolling across potholes. A true all-terrain vehicle.


The Tiguan 1.4 TSI R-Line isn’t cheap, at R654 200, but it remains the standard for luxury compact to mid-sized SUVs.