VW Is Such A Tease!
Frequently we see photos of cars in Europe and wonder why we don’t get them in the United States. Sometimes these are car brands not even sold here such as Skoda, SEAT, Peugeot, Alfa Romeo and Renault. Then there are the cars sold in Europe that we don’t get here such the one Volkswagen just teased us here at Clean Fleet Report–a very cool 2014 Tiguan TDI Euro Spec.
The gasoline-powered Tiguan is currently sold in the USA with the 2.0L, 16 valve DOHC 4-cylinder intercooled, turbocharged engine puts out 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The engine runs on premium fuel and gets 21 mph city / 26 mph highway with a combined of 23 mpg. These numbers are with the 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic paddle shifters. Mileage numbers with the 6-speed manual transmission are 18/26/21. The gasoline version is widely recognized as being peppy, built solidly and fun to drive.
The 2014 VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Sport: A Sporty Compact Crossover
Let’s set the ground rules when driving a Euro Spec vehicle: at no point should we expect the exact version will hit our shores in the United States. With this disclaimer duly noted, let’s get onto how the Tiguan TDI should be imported and how much fun it was to drive.
The test 2014 VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec we drove is powered by a European version of the engine currently available in the U.S. Jetta, Passat and Beetle models: a 2.0L, 16-valve direct injection, turbocharged 4-cylinder which is rated at around 30 City / 42 Highway in those passenger cars, with a combined average of 34 mpg, delivering 600+ miles on a tank of clean diesel. If this engine were in a U.S. version of the Tiguan a 42 mpg
highway rating would be the best in the Small Crossover class. (And we think this is feasible since the Passat TDI and gas Tiguan have identical curb weights.) The turbodiesel produces 174 hp but delivers 280 lb-ft of torque. In Europe our Tiguan comes standard with a 6-speed manual and has an option of a 6 or 7-speed automatic with Tiptronic. Our test Tiguan had the 7-speed (with paddle shifters) mated to the optional 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive.
The big question (other than if VW will bring a diesel Tiguan to the US market at all) is what engine will be in it? VW has developed a new World diesel engine for the 2015 Tiguan TDI. It will appear in the U.S. first in the 2015 Golf TDI, which hits US VW dealerships mid-year 2014, will have this new, World-standard engine.
The Driving Experience: On The Road
The 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic with Tiptronic has a Drive and Sport mode, with the ability to manually go through the gears with the paddle shifters while in either setting. The suspension is strut front and multi-link rear with an optional European feature–Adaptive Chassis Control, DCC. It has three settings–Normal, Comfort and Sport–that are selected by a button on the lower center stack near the gear shift lever.
I had the opportunity to drive the 2014 VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec in the heaviest rain storm Southern California has experienced in several years. Selecting the Sport setting on the transmission and suspension delivered an unexpected driving experience. The transmission shifts in Sport automatic were smooth and in the right place for the rpms and driving conditions. The steering in Sport DCC was tight and precise with little body roll and, even in driving rain, the small crossover felt secure and confident. This excellent driving experience in Sport DCC is the result of the dampers being firmed-up, the steering assistance reduced and the throttle response sharpened. The Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec easily handled better than many passenger cars and probably as good as some sports sedans.
The 280 lb-ft of torque is a blast when in the Sport DCC mode or using the paddle shifters where the rpms can be stretched. The engine really shines when kicking-in around 25 mph and staying on it to 70+ mph (freeway of course); the payback is a big grin!
A note about the other suspension and transmission setting options. The Tiguan TDI 4Motion is designed to deliver high fuel economy, so the Drive DCC mode resulted in some high gearing at low speeds. I felt it did not shift to keep the powerband where it was needed for city driving, therefore I opted for the Sport DSC mode which kept it in each gear just a bit longer and down shifted at the right place. Regarding the suspension settings: You can noticeably feel the difference between Normal, Comfort and Sport. Again, I opted to leave it in Sport which provided the best feel for the road with crisp handling but no loss of comfort.
The 2014 VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec came with Start/Stop technology, which is common in Europe but not on U.S. VW diesel models. It is set to turn-off the engine within 2 – 3 seconds of coming to a full stop and then kicking in again when your foot is released from the brake pedal. I like this feature and believe it will become more prevalent in the United States. But before it does, VW needs to tweak it just a bit for two reasons:
• When the engine starts back up it does so with a noticeable jerk and rumble. This may be acceptable in Europe but not to drivers in the United States as we like our cars smooth and quiet.
• When at a red traffic light with the engine off and your foot on the brake, when the light turns green the immediate action is to step on the accelerator pedal. With Start/Stop and the slight turbo lag (a common turbo reality) this results in a momentary acceleration delay. Again, maybe this is acceptable in Europe but it will not be in the USA. It is a minor issue and, once I drove the Tiguan TDI for many miles, I adjusted to it. My guess is this is something that VW will fine-tune when the Tiguan TDI comes to the USA.
As mentioned earlier, the Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec feels solid and confident on the road with responsive handling due to all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels and four-wheel vented power-assisted disc brakes and ABS. While not a sports car, the Tiguan lives up to VW’s claim of it having “Track & Style.”
Driving Experience: Interior
The interior appointments are where I can’t get too specific as the Tiguan TDI 4Motion model that comes to the United States will likely not be configured the same as the Euro Spec. While doing fact-checking with the Volkswagen media representative, I asked if the excellent two-toned cloth seats will be standard or an option for the US model. I was told this fabric would not make its way across the ocean, which is a shame as it gripped your body on tight turns and was very comfortable. Who knows, maybe it will.
The interior has a fit and finish that are German tight with just the right amount of black brushed aluminum trim on the dashboard, center console, doors and steering wheel. I would
assume the U.S. Tiguan TDI 4Motion will come in the R-Line, which will have a very high-end luxury look and feel. The Tiguan TDI 4Motion was quiet on even the bumpiest of roads and was very enjoyable to drive.
There is a good mix of soft and hard plastics with no unnecessary fake woods or plastic chrome pieces. The heated front seats were very comfortable, including a power driver’s seat that was height adjustable and a telescoping steering column. The 60/40 rear seat (with folding arm rest with cup holders) is comfortable for three adults with ample foot room. A cool feature are the airliner-style flip-up trays mounted on the back of the front driver and passenger seats. Along with a 12V and European-style 110V plug (expect this to be the U.S. plug), the back seat is good for long trips in comfort and convenience.
The sound system was good but this version will most likely not be offered in the United States. Specific to this car since it was European Spec, the voice activation included a German language option, a German radio band with no operating Bluetooth or Navigation. Fun and quirky to say the least was the Owner’s Manual, which was printed in German.
If you are interested in learning about the U.S. Tiguan models currently at your local dealer, more information can be found here:
Driving Experience: Exterior
Tiguan TDI 4Motion has clean, Germanic lines with no unnecessary cladding or body panels. The front headlights had the helpful feature of the side markers lighting when turning corners. The headlights would dim automatically when approaching oncoming cars. There were roof rack rails designed to support cross members, rear wiper, dual chrome exhaust tips and the distinctive “2.0 TDI 4Motion” badge.
There is no way to estimate the price of the 2015 Tiguan TDI 4Motion, especially since VW will not commit to it even being on sale in the United States. However, U.S. spec 2014 Tiguans range in price from $23,305 to $32,995 so it is anyone’s guess where a 2015 Tiguan TDI 4Motion would fall. In Europe the TDI models start about $1,000 more than the gas versions, but the variety of engines available over there make comparisons difficult. In the U.S. VW has been pricing its diesel models at about $4 to $5,000 more than the cheapest gas model, but they are not always comparably equipped so apple-to-apple comparisons are difficult.
Observations: 2014 VW Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec
Let’s start with what a kick it is that Volkswagen allowed Clean Fleet Report to drive the 2014 Tiguan TDI 4Motion Euro Spec. Was it a bit of a tease? Yes. Did it accomplish what they were seeking to do: get journalist input on this crossover and our opinions on how it would fit as a U.S. model? Definitely!
The small crossover market is very competitive with a wide array of brands and models from which to choose. Volkswagen knows that if they bring the 2015 Tiguan TDI 4Motion to the United States that its sales need to
warrant this decision.
In 2013, 24 percent of Volkswagen’s USA overall sales were clean diesel models. Adding the 2015 Tiguan TDI 4Motion to their line-up (the 2013 Tiguan was fourth in VW sales behind Jetta, Passat and Beetle) Volkswagen would have the fuel economy leader, best handling and highest performance entry in the small crossover category.
I told the VW rep as much and suggested they would have a winner on their hands.
We’ll see, of course, but I am sure they have heard this from other journalists; we’ll have to wait to see what kind of influence we have at Volkswagen HQ in Germany and the United States.
Words and Photos by John Faulkner
Posted April 17, 2014
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