2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 162 TSI R-Line review

The revised Volkswagen Tiguan range has landed. here we take the flagship 162TSI R-Line for a spin.

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line is all the Tiguan money can buy, offering an extensive blend of design and equipment in a segment that continues to be the most popular in Australia.

Medium SUVs have become Australia’s de-facto family cars, outselling all other segments including the seemingly ubiquitous 4×4 dual-cab utes.

Volkswagen’s player in the segment – a category headlined by Toyota’s RAV4 – is the Tiguan range which gets underway at a tickle under $40k with the $39,690 Tiguan 110TSI Life.

Here though, we have the range-topping petrol variant, the 162TSI R-Line which wears a price tag of $53,790 plus on-road costs.

While on the surface that represents a hefty $2100 hefty increase over the previous 162TSI Highline range-topper, the new halo Tiguan gets more standard gear for the money. Comparing like for like, you’d need to add the R-Line pack to the old Highline, bringing the price up to $54,690, some $900 more than the new Tiguan flagship.

Our test car at launch wore an $800 optional layer of paint – Nightshade Blue Metallic – one of four optional hues, with Pure White the only no-cost colour in the Tiguan’s palette.

The only other options available for the R-Line are a $2000 panoramic sunroof and the $2500 Sound and Vision pack which brings. 360-degree camera, head-up display and premium Harman Kardon sound.

In terms of rivals, $51,880 scores you all the Mazda CX-5 you can eat, while the ever-popular Toyota RAV4 Cruiser in all-wheel-drive petrol-hybrid trim asks for $46,415 plus on-roads. Potential buyers might also consider the refreshed Peugeot 5008 GT with its $51,990 price point. But it’s front-wheel drive only and makes less power and torque than its German rival.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine
Power and torque 162kW @ 1500–6200rpm, 350Nm @ 1500–4400rpm
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive type All-wheel drive
Weight (tare) 1785kg
Fuel claim combined (ADR) 7.5L/100km
Fuel use on test 8.8L/100km
Boot volume (unfolded and folded) 615L/1655L
Turning circle 11.9m
ANCAP safety rating (year tested) Five stars (2016)
Warranty 5 years/unlimited kilometres
Main competitors Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Peugeot 5008
Price as tested (ex on-road costs) $54,590

The Tiguan’s midlife refresh brings with it some minor external changes, with the majority of updates reserved for technology. The R-Line leans heavily on Volkswagen’s sporting theme, with bespoke R-Line bumpers, skirts, a rear spoiler and badging (the ‘R’ on the grille finished in a distinctive new font).

The R-Line sits on 20-inch ‘Misano’ alloys while inside Vienna leather trim with ‘R’ embroidery is complemented by an R-Line steering wheel featuring capacitive touch controls against the physical switches found on lower grades. Stainless steel pedals complete the sporty vibe.

The headline act of updates is Volkswagen’s IQ. Drive safety suite that brings autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, parking assist and a driver attention monitor.

Standard too is Volkswagen’s excellent 10.25-inch digital driver display – Digital Cockpit Pro – that is at once configurable and intuitive to use. Similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, it improves on its stablemate’s offering with crisper graphics and a sharper user experience, setting a new standard for digital driver displays.

Other standard highlights include heated front seats, electrically adjustable with memory function. There’s a 9.2-inch touchscreen display anchoring infotainment with inbuilt satellite navigation as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Curiously, there’s no wireless charging for smartphones, meaning you’ll need to plug into one of the two USB-C points up front (or a third in the second row) if your phone requires juice, kinda negating the need for wireless telephony. Strange.

There’s also no DAB+ radio, which continues to be a frustration for us with Volkswagens of all types and price tags, even more so when the AM reception is scratchy at best. It’s a minor gripe, but one we can’t help but continually be annoyed by. Just how much does a DAB+ receiver cost at the OEM level? Can’t be more than few bucks, surely.

Matrix LED headlights feature an all-weather function that replaces the more traditional foglamps, helping to illuminate the road ahead in all weather conditions. Out back, LED taillights are complemented by dynamic indicators. We led – and followed – other Tiguan 162TSI R-Lines at launch and it’s certainly a striking lighting signature, from any angle.

Inside, ambient lighting can be configured in 30 different colours while the three-zone climate control features haptic buttons and sliders to adjust settings. One neat feature of those haptic temperature controls is the ability to hold your finger over the middle of the slider and the temperature will always change to what VW considers the ideal, 22-degree Celsius. Gimmicky? Yes, but also cool, or at least 22-degrees cool.

The Tiguan cabin feels solid. Slide inside the driver’s seat and everything feels within reach and comfortable. All the main touchpoints yield under hand or elbow, adding to the premium air inside. The front seats are on the firm side, like your sitting on them and not in them. We’ve experienced more comfortable pews.

Still, the ergonomics are commendable as are the storage options. From the cupholders that self-adjust to whatever size container is within, to the flock-lined (and generously-sized) door pockets, thought has gone into the needs of the Tiguan owner.

It’s a similar story in the second row, although soft-touch materials give way to harder plastics/ There are separate climate controls in the second row (as well as air vents, naturally) and a single USB-C charging point. As well as generous door pockets, the second row also features a little storage cubby down low at the side of each outboard seats, ideal for smaller objects that might want to stay hidden from prying eyes.

There’s a generous amount of space too, with ample toe-, knee-, leg-, and headroom while the seats themselves slide fore and aft to create more passenger space or cargo area depending on positioning.

The boot is decent too, with 615 litres with the second row in use, expanding to 1655 litres with the back seats folded away. Dimensionally, there’s 977mm in the boot with the back seats in the upright position, growing to 1746mm with the seats folded. A space-saver tyre and wheel live under the floor which also features a couple of small nooks for hiding away valuables.

As the name suggests the Tiguan 162TSI R-Line is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 162kW (4500-6200rpm) and 350Nm (at a very user-friendly 1500-4400rpm). That’s not quite VW Golf GTI territory, but it’s pretty close, the Tiguan’s hatchback cousin making 180kW and 370Nm from the same 2.0-litre turbo four.

That comparison to the Golf, while not really valid on the surface, nevertheless hints at what the Tiguan 162TSI R-Line feels like to drive.

Sending the 162TSI’s outputs to all four wheels (VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system underpins the R-Line) is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG) transmission.

Around town, that combination of engine and transmission works superbly well. Take-off from standstill is brisk while remaining entirely predictable while plugging gaps in traffic or merging onto freeways is similarly effortless.

The seven-speed DSG works away tirelessly and seamlessly. Left to its own devices in Comfort or Normal drive modes (there’s also Eco, Sport and Individual), the transmission rows through its seven available cogs intuitively and quietly. There’s no hint of lag, no hesitation from a standstill. Simply, the Tiguan moves away with barely a ripple left in its wake.

You can, of course, opt for changing your own gears via the steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shifters and if you do, it’s certainly rewarding in the right circumstances.

We found some nice twisting stretches of rural backroads and came away pleasantly surprised with several aspects of the 162TSI R-Line.

Firstly, that engine under the bonnet with those outputs is plentiful for some spirited driving. Flick the gear lever into M for manual and let your fingers do the transmission talking. There’s a willingness to hold onto revs, while changes – either up or down – are affected with razor-like responses. There’s simply no hesitation at all.

Similarly, the Tiguan 162TSI is happy to hustle along. It’s not hot hatch-like fast, and nor should it be, but there’s a punchiness that’s hard not to like. Part of that is, no doubt the availability of maximum torque in the rev band sweet spot, kicking in at just 1500rpm, perfect for some brisk acceleration.

It’s a similar story on the freeway, the 162TSI R-Line settling into an easy and unstressed lope at 110km/h. There’s some minor wind noise filtering into the cabin at these speeds, but that’s par for the course.

The ride on adaptive dampers, or what VW calls adaptive chassis control, is on the firm side of comfortable, but not to the point of unsettling occupants. Road noise is unremarkable in that it’s there, but not to the point to makes you wince.

The Tiguan 162TSI R-Line comes equipped with progressive steering as standard. That means, it feels natural and nicely weighted at normal driving speeds, but lightens up when manoeuvring in and around tighter confines or parking. Certainly, the steering felt light and responsive while parking.

Volkswagen claims the Tiguan 162TSI R-Line will drink just 8.5L per 100km of 95RON premium unleaded. Our week with the car saw an indicated 8.8L/100km, a decent return. Even after several more days of pure urban driving, the overall fuel use had drifted to 9.4L/100km.

ANCAP awarded this generation Tiguan a five-star safety score back in 2016, a rating that should carry over for this revised and facelifted 2021 iteration.

VW covers the Tiguan range with its now standard five-year/unlimited km warranty while service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Servicing plans can be prepaid at the time of purchase and ask for either $1200 for three years, or $2400 for five years/75,000km.

As the new family car battleground, the medium SUV segment offers buyers plenty of choice for their money. The Volkswagen Tiguan range has played in the segment and played well, catering to those with a taste for European design and German engineering.

The new revised Volkswagen Tiguan range keeps the brand’s mid-sizer fresh and new, while the extra standard equipment for your money ensures the value proposition remains reasonable.

But, for those after the comfort and practicality of the regular Tiguan but with some inbuilt sportiness, the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line packs plenty of punch. Competitively priced, with plenty of space and an abundance of technology, the R-Line backs that up with a drive experience as nice as it looks.