Sunday 23 September 2018

Allspace 7-seater paves way for a new generation

A flexible, roomy VW but watch the price, writes Eddie Cunningham

The seven-seater Audi Tiguan Allspace.
The seven-seater Audi Tiguan Allspace.

So there I was, feeling a bit awkward and irrelevant with a seven-seater Tiguan Allspace at my disposal but no one to fill some of the seats — particularly the two on the third row. There was a time they’d be full. And maybe... well, more on that front in a minute.

But let me start at the start because it is important to make a distinction between models here. There’s the Tiguan and there is the Tiguan Allspace. Similar but different in several areas (grille, lights, roof rails) but especially space and size as it’s 215mm longer (4,701mm total) and has a 109mm longer wheelbase (2,681mm v 2,790mm).

Due to the fact it is larger you can have an extra row of (two toddler) seats if you so wish.

For €770 more than the Allspace (yes Allspace) 5-seater version, I think that is an absolute no brainer.

No, I didn’t have use for the rear two seats — hence my initial sense of semi-irrelevance. But they are a great space resource for either passengers or luggage (you can fold them flat into the floor).

Driving the Allspace on a hugely varied series of routes, it became more obvious than ever why so many people are looking for a 7-seater (I get loads and loads of queries from families about them every week).

Be it a people carrier (MPV) or SUV, these 7-seaters mean you are covered for the occasional/infrequent need to ferry extra little bodies to sports, picnics — whatever or whenever it’s your turn.

And in the case of this week’s review car, I love the idea of knowing exactly how much more the extra seats will cost right across the Allspace range.

However, I do think the car I was driving was overcooked with spec, DSG (auto) and all-wheel-drive (4M). Grand for me, but I wasn’t putting my hand in my pocket or signature to a PCP.

I’d be saying to look at the 1.4-litre petrol front-wheel drive Trendline manual if you’re not doing more than 15,000kms a year. Or at the 2-litre Comfortline diesel 2WD manual.

At the same time, I have to be fair and say Volkswagen have told me several times that a high proportion of people are buying heavily-specced Tiguans. I still say, don’t go buying a big-spec diesel if you have modest mileage.

Anyway... I think there should be two parallels in reviewing a car like this.

There should be the driving, as such, and the occupancy.

From a driving point of view it was grand as SUVs of this nature go; sturdily Volkswagen-ish, comfortable on the road (great absorption of jolts, I must say) and on the inside, it was lavishly decked with spec.

But I would definitely have expected better noise suppression from the 2-litre diesel over the first kilometre of a journey. Inside, the extra length and wheelbase transform it into a roomy entity and, thankfully, with the third row flat, there wasn’t that sense of ‘boom’ you often get with a big open interior space.

On the outside, meantime, it hadn’t that sense of ‘iceberg’ you can have with larger, longer cars where, even with parking aids, I’m always fearful of damaging the unseen bits.

As is the case with most SUVs these days, the driving position appealed — good vision all round. The displays, touchscreens, interactivity were all as we’ve come to expect, too (how quickly we take them for granted).

From an occupant perspective, the flexibility of seating made a difference. I put a lot of time and effort into that area for subsequent good reason.

The second row slides and folds to let you get to the back row. I got good at it, but it’s not the best example on the market. Ease of access to the third row wasn’t the greatest; there are slicker systems.

But there is no denying the space and comfort. With the third row ‘in use’, the boot manages a modest 230-litres capacity. At the other extreme, if you fold both second and third rows you get 1,775-litres. That’s seriously capacious and real practical flexibility because even over the course of my week I needed loads of flat space as well as seating.

Up to now I’ve been putting myself in your shoes on 7-seaters. That’s my job. Only this time around it was to be a little different.

Things changed, joyfully, as the week drew to a close with the arrival of a first, precious, adorable new generation.

Suddenly I went from feeling a bit irrelevant in a 7-seater — on the outside looking in if you like — to being totally absorbed by the prospect of needing one in the future, please God, to accommodate the current and the new generation of a wider family.

Which is why I’ll never look at a 7-seater the same way again.

Facts and Figures

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace auto 4M, 5/7seater mid-size SUV; 2-litre 150hp diesel, €390 road tax.

Price: €50,252 for test car. Range: from €34,825 on-the-road (1.4 petrol, 150hp); 7-seater versions €770 more than 5-seaters.

Test-car spec included safety systems, air con, 18ins alloys, heated front seats, LED headlights, parking assistance/controls, rear-view camera, 8ins touchscreen/navigation system, voice control, pedestrian monitoring, lane assist; folding/heated wing mirrors. Options: metallic paint; technology upgrade (head-up display, panoramic sunroof).

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