Thursday 22 March 2018

Volkswagen Tiguan: 'It is my car of the year so far... it is stonkingly good'

It was his holiday and Campbell Spray packed up a Tiguan and headed north west to be delighted by car and area

Best drive this year: Campbell and Sam with the Tiguan at Malin Head on the Inishowen peninsula, in Donegal
Best drive this year: Campbell and Sam with the Tiguan at Malin Head on the Inishowen peninsula, in Donegal
Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

One of the issues in living so close to the city centre and this newspaper's office is that I hardly drive during the week.

In many ways it is a good thing as the cycling does me good, and on Sunday I am determined to get a good drive and test in, and so we head for the hills. But when holidays come, we live with a car for every day of the two weeks. It can break or make the holiday.

The last two weeks were no exception as we were heading for Donegal and would do an awful lot of driving on unfamiliar roads. This year I was keen to try a solid family offering, and was lucky to be one of the first to take the new Volkswagen Tiguan on an extended test. This is now the second generation of the Tiguan which first arrived in 2008. It is a medium-sized SUV competing in the now most hotly contested sector.

The first few days around town, the Tiguan proved able, adequate and so easy to park with rear-view camera, sensors and the ParkPilot control. That I still managed to ignore them all and forget that a soft bush might hide a hard wall just shows the stupidity of man over machine.

New Volkswagen Tiguan, Gap of Dunloe
New Volkswagen Tiguan, Gap of Dunloe

Yet once we hit the road to Donegal, the 2.0-litre, 150bhp diesel engine came into its own. Power was smooth, understated and amazingly frugal. I'm not a great fan of diesel - I don't do enough miles to make it worthwhile - however, I couldn't fault the Tiguan for its efforts to be cleaner and more economical.

The Tiguan is the first VW group SUV to be built on the MQB platform, which means it is more efficient, spacious and lighter than the model it replaces. It is also lower, longer and wider than the first generation model and you really feel that inside.

Yet it is in the driving that Tiguan has most improved. It is so easy, confident and controlled. We did more than 1,500km through Donegal and it was a breeze - despite some gales outside. The very supportive front seats were a boon too and give a great driving position for people of all sizes. Also, 0-100kmh in 9.3 seconds can't be sniffed at.

It has a sportier stance than its predecessor, and is robustly attractive while never being a thing of beauty. Yet that is probably not an issue for VW buyers, who tend be more conservative, and might be interested in moving up from a Golf or down from the Touareg into the Tiguan. Both will be happy. The car is a lot bigger inside than you think and has a lot more space than many of its rivals. The old Tiguan looks and drives very dated by comparison. However 2.6 million of them were sold so there is a massive market out there.

I did find that the Stop-Start system on the Tiguan played havoc with my relationship with my partner as I seemed to trigger it at inappropriate moments like going around a roundabout. But I blamed her talking. She often tells me that being a man means I can't talk and drive at the same time.

The Tiguan is well built and the leather touches are special. I liked the room, and while some of the tech spec was beyond me, it will appeal to the younger set with growing families. Nearly all the sales will be the 2.0-litre diesel, however there is an entry-level 125bhp, 1.4-litre petrol model at €29,720. My 2.0 TDI model, with the Highline spec on lovely 18in alloys, had an on-the-road price of €37,389 - with delivery charge of €775 and metallic paint at €599 - increasing the standard price of €36,015.

New Volkswagen Tiguan, Gap of Dunloe
New Volkswagen Tiguan, Gap of Dunloe

The automatic seven-speed DSG gearbox and the 4Motion All-Wheel Drive would be good additions but make the car a bit pricier. Even on some of the more challenging Donegal roads, I felt secure with the FWD. Yet in winter it might be different. The plug-in hybrid model should be interesting when it arrives.

It is my car of the year so far. It is stonkingly good. I felt that VW need a good kicking over the emissions scandal. The Tiguan has made me soften a bit. It may not have made the two weeks, that was done by the sights of Donegal, the wonderful people and the hospitality of places like Castle Murray Hotel and Rathmullan House, all of which will be written about in our travel section, but the Tiguan did make our life so easy. I was sorry to see it go.

n We always travel with our dog Sam who might be getting old but is loved like any child. And just as you wouldn't leave a child unstrapped on a backseat so you shouldn't a dog or pet. In any accident, he or she could go flying through the windscreen.

Dogs must be strapped in with a special harness. I first saw the Skoda harness in a Dogs Trust newsletter and we have now tried it out on Sam. Undoubtedly it is the most secure and best built I have come across.

You and your pet's safety deserve it.

My dear friend Maeve's sad loss

Last Wednesday, the funeral took place in Malahide of Sinead De Barra, an extraordinarily  talented 44-year-old  who had died of cancer the previous week  in Germany. As the death notice says, Sinead was "the beloved spouse of Holger Verron, loving daughter of Maeve and the late Jim, cherished sister of Niamh and devoted aunt to Aoife, Jamie and Chloe".

VW Tiguan interior
VW Tiguan interior

Her mother Maeve Barry has been the greatest friend and help to motoring and travel journalists for as long as I can remember.

Beautifully polite, she is always unstinting with the way she will assist you in your queries or arrange car tests, review days or overseas trips. Even when journalists have fallen on hard times, retired or left the business, she would always ensure they were remembered at Christmas and invited to the Mercedes-Benz annual lunch. With her friend and boss, Don Hall, she ran Hall Public Relations with professional panache.

She has always been a tower of strength for me, never more than when I suffered my own great loss last year.

Maeve is a dear, dear friend and I know only too well the grief she is feeling over the untimely death of her beautiful Sinead. Bless you.

Sunday Independent

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