Tuesday 12 December 2017

VW beast gone and forgotten

Volkswagen's Tiguan is a solid, sturdy and powerful drive but it's just a little bit boring and not remotely memorable, writes Campbell Spray.

MANY years ago when I was new to this game I parked my test car in the middle of the city and went off to meet some colleagues. Returning some hours later I couldn't locate the car, reckoned it was stolen and phoned the gardai.

A colleague was less than pleased to be stopped by the boys in blue. I was too young for the first of many "senior" moments but unfortunately I had forgotten I had changed cars that day and the new test car was sitting exactly where I had left it.

These days, the problems are more mundane. There is so much switchgear and interactive technology on board that by the time I have sorted it all out the test is over and I'm faced with the same problem all over again. Memories of cars begin to blur and combine to give beastly apparitions in my mind or at least what's left of it.

Over Christmas, I was driving the Volkswagen Tiguan, a mid-sized beast that had four-wheel drive and a lot of sturdiness so the family would be ready for anything the expected snowfalls would bring.

But like the spikes for my shoes, which I had proudly paid over the odds for towards the end of last winter, much of the Tiguan's potential went unused.

Living within sight of the top of Dublin's Spire I don't really need a rugged SUV, except for our forays to the hills of the surrounding counties to exercise Sam, a lovely Labrador and collie cross.

Cars like the Tiguan do allow you to take the brakes off your ambition and go places where ordinary saloons fear to tread. However, such abilities don't come cheap. While the cheapest Tiguan with a 110bhp 2.0litre diesel on board comes in at €28,450 plus a totally ridiculous delivery charge of €750 to make €29,210, the 4WD models with the 140bhp 2.0 diesel engine are the guts of €6,500 more and if you want the very good VW DSG automatic system you are at an OTR of €39,145 at least. Then the fun starts as VW, like most of the German brands, will quickly empty your wallet by suggesting you load on the extras.

This is getting into pretty heady territory which isn't really VW's forte and I'd probably prefer, for style, safety and all-round ability, to be talking to Subaru or Land Rover. And if it's looks you are after, then the Tiguan is very much left out in the cold.

Yet there is something very solid and reassuring about the simple power of the Tiguan, even though it did remind me a bit of its massive big sister -- the Touareg -- which is named after that tribe we heard so much about during the recent Libyan conflict. It does handle very easily about town and here it reflects its Golf heritage and platform. Its load area with the rear seats folded is absolutely cavernous. Yet the family had a problem over Christmas.

It was almost like we had developed goldfish memories. I kept being asked, "What's this car?" only to remind them it was the same one as yesterday and the week before.

In other words, despite its competency it is absolutely forgettable. But that's often what some car owners want -- a confident workhorse, a solid return on their money and total boringness. And you can't fault the Tiguan for its economy or comfort.

The test car was dark, it had a dusky interior and although I was very pleased to have it in case things turned nasty I was rather relieved when it was returned and something a bit more memorable took its place.

According to legend the name developed in a competition with a motoring magazine and is a combination of the German words Tiger (tiger) and Leguan (iguana). That very unlikely combination seems to say a lot. The car should speak for itself and not through an artificial name.

Sunday Independent

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