2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R launch review

  • Doors and Seats


    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine


    2.0T, 4 cyl.

  • Engine Power


    235kW, 400Nm

  • Fuel


    Petrol (98) 8.8L/100KM

  • Manufacturer



  • Transmission


    7 Spd Auto (DCT)

  • Warranty


    5 Yr, Unltd KMs

  • Ancap Safety




Volkswagen takes decades of R know-how and moves out of the hot hatch space and into the world of hot SUVs with the first-ever Tiguan R. We explore the new Tiguan R on the road and the track.

  • A proper performance SUV
  • Fantastic second row and boot
  • Looks as good as it goes

  • Firm ride
  • Dated interior design
  • Needs the seats from the Golf R

It’s finally here, the high-performance SUV that all automotive enthusiasts will claim are ‘buying it for my (their) partner’.

It’s a true anecdote. To celebrate the launch of the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R, the brand invited us to drive the car around town for a night or two, then punish it on-track at Sydney Motorsport Park.

While I had one over that night or two, an old friend caught wind, and just had to pop over despite his very own example arriving a few weeks from now.

He tells me he ordered it over a year ago and was patiently waiting to drive the socks off it, despite apparently being for his wife. My encounter with Jamie wasn’t unique either, as slew of other passers-by were quick to claim “it’s the car for them” after becoming privy to just some of its juicy details.

Before understanding whether it’s also the ideal car for you to buy for your partner but drive most of the time, let’s understand the basics first.

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R is the new performance range-topper of its medium SUV range and starts from $68,990 before on-roads. Optional extras are limited to just two things: an opening panoramic sunroof ($2000) and Harman Kardon premium audio system ($1000).

The cost of one of five exterior colours is free, meaning a car without either optional extras costs around $77,300 drive-away, or $5000 more than a 2022 Volkswagen Golf R hatch.

Like the hatch, the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R SUV uses the same ingredients too: a 235kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, new 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with fancy electro-mechanical torque-vectoring rear differential, and uprated seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Other standard features include Matrix LED headlights, huge 21-inch wheels sitting over a performance brake package, and plenty of racing exterior styling.

Is it worth the extra money? 

Key details 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R
Price (MSRP) $68,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Lapiz Blue
Options available Panoramic sunroof – $2000

Harman Kardon audio – $1000
Rivals Skoda Kodiaq RS | Hyundai Kona N | Genesis GV70

Let’s address the worst part of the cabin first, as it’s the first thing you’ll notice in real life.

It’s the seats, and it’s certainly not because of the luxurious nappa leather trim or stitched R logos either. It’s because of their shape, as they’re quite literally regular Tiguan seats with blue highlights.

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They don’t look anywhere near as racy as the car’s exterior would suggest, nor are they supportive enough for dynamic driving – after all, this is a high-performance ‘racing’ SUV with unbelievable amounts of ability.

I’m also wasting three paragraphs on it because other seats found in the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R look miles better, are far more supportive, and ironically can also be more comfortable – depending on your body size – because of their extra adjustment.

That said, what you sit on inside a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R are comfy, 12-way adjustable with four-way lumbar support, heated, and with memory on both sides.

The rest of the cabin looks and smells well-built, but also looks dated and old. While Volkswagen’s other products show off its new minimalist interior design philosophy, the Tiguan R uses a tried-and-tested design that’s now over five years old.

However, it’s true that wisdom comes with age. Unlike in the new Volkswagen Golf R, the Tiguan R’s air-conditioning controls use ‘old-school’ buttons and switches – including that crucial fan speed dial – making them easy to interact with when driving.

Other ergonomic triumphs include a pair of massive flocked door pockets, a huge storage pit complete with lid and fold-out cupholders in the lower centre console, and smart device holders stitched into the back of the front seats.

Speaking of which, the second row and boot are where you’ll find the most reasons to buy a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R over the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R you also want.

The back seat is nice and spacious with plenty of room for a pair of adults behind another pair of adults. Sitting in the second row of seating behind my own driving position (I’m 183cm tall), my feet were able to stretch out under what’s in front, knees well clear of the seat backs, and upper body left with ample space to lounge about.

The roof is a little low, but it’s more the dark headlining making the space feel enclosed. Naturally, as a family SUV, the second row of seating is conducive to the fitment of child seats.

I fitted a Britax Graphene convertible child seat in both forward- and rearward-facing positions to find ample room. The space to load babies through is great, but you’ll still likely need to lift your kids in once they’re forward-facing, too, given the height of the car.

A nice touch are a pair of storage bins on the outside of the rear seat bench. They’re perfect to store some wet wipes, a small snack, or even your kid’s favourite toy, once they’ve hit the hay after a long day out.

Other extras in the back include larger and flocked door bins, a third zone of climate control with temperature, fan speed and air vents, plus a USB-C port and 12-volt power outlet.

Its boot is massive, with 615L of storage on offer with all seats in play, and 1655L with the second row folded (two-seater). The boot floor itself is height-adjustable, meaning you can sacrifice some space to create a smooth and level loading lip – great for bulky items like a pram.

There are also fold-down hooks for your groceries and levers to remotely fold the second row too. Young and adventurous families will have a great time filling this space with bikes, scooters, and maybe the family pet too.

As a final point, sadly under the dual-level boot floor sits a tyre repair kit and no spare wheel of any kind.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R
Seats Five
Boot volume 615L seats up / 1655L seats folded
Length 4520mm
Width 1859mm
Height 1668mm
Wheelbase 2681mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Communications inside the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R are handled by a 9.2-inch infotainment system with both wired and wireless Apple CarPlay plus Android Auto connectivity, digital radio, and a suite of performance gauges and meters.

The system’s hardware package is good, meaning it has enough memory to respond fast and action a flurry of inputs without baulking.

Another nice touch is the retention of hard-wiring to access Apple CarPlay (unlike others), as the Tiguan R does not have wireless phone charging to support a truly cable-free affair.

The unique Volkswagen R software applied to the infotainment and gauge cluster screens is flashy enough and certainly adds some appeal to interacting with the car too.

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R wears the same five-star ANCAP safety rating the rest of the range earned back in 2016.

Under those six-year-old guidelines, the Tiguan performed extremely well in terms of adult occupant protection (96 per cent). However, its child occupant protection rating of 80 per cent could be better.

As you’d expect from a flagship medium SUV from Europe, the Volkswagen Tiguan R is stacked with safety features and the acronyms to go with them.

That means there’s autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection that works when driving forward or backward, blind-spot monitor with steering assist, front and rear parking sensors, and even clever Matrix LED headlights that truly change the way you see roads at night.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R launch review-0

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R is sort of its own thing.

It’s a really capable – and in my eyes – true performance SUV. If you’re chasing dollars-per-kilowatts and every last tenth to 100km/h (5.1sec in this case), then you’ll either be spending up or sacrificing performance.

Taking the latter point of that sentiment could reveal the 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Veloce, which is priced at $79,450 before on-roads. It’s far slower, but still engaging to drive, and looks great too. Another similar car would be the 2022 Volvo XC60 Momentum, as its prices start from $69,490.

The performance choice would be the 2022 Hyundai Kona N Premium, which at $51,000 before on-roads at first feels like a bargain. However, its second row and boot are quite literally half the size of the Tiguan’s, meaning its performance may come with too great a compromise for most. It’s also a bit too firm and racy.

At a glance 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1650 (3 years), $3100 (5 years)

Maintaining a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R is best done via a fully transferable service pack that costs $1650 for three years/45,000km coverage or $3100 for five years/75,000km.

In terms of pricing, it’s a little dear, but there are some unique service items in the schedule, like that tricky torque-vectoring rear differential. 

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.8L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) Not recorded
Fuel type 98-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 58L

There’s no denying it’s a performance car after just a few minutes of driving, as it’s firm.

Don’t be too alarmed, as our press car defaulted to Sport mode on start-up – instead of Comfort – making it stiff.

A few taps of the blue and illuminated ‘R’ on the steering wheel yielded some respite in Comfort mode, but unlike the smaller Golf R, the larger Tiguan R always feels tense, rigid, and like it never truly shuts off.

I reckon its inherent firmness is a by-product of valiant VW engineers protecting the ‘R’ brand and making sure the product stacks up. It’s over 200kg heavier than a Golf R, meaning if you want the same standard ability in the heavier car, physics says it’ll have to be firmer.

Or spend more money and change the Tiguan’s suspension entirely, which we all know isn’t an option. I’m always the first to heckle with “pay to play” on these ones, meaning if you want the go, deal with the woe, but when in the firm suspension modes, the Tiguan R can become close to unbearable on a bumpy B-road.

Those large and pretty 21-inch wheels do it no favours either, and are undoubtedly part of the problem. As I said earlier, however, there’s no doubting how much fun it can be in the right scenario.

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R features the same tricky electro-mechanical torque-vectoring rear differential as the Golf R hatchback.

What that means for us normal people is that the rear end pretty much has a fancy motorsport-inspired limited-slip differential that can send power left-to-right in ways that suit dynamic driving.

The result is a car that’ll tuck itself into a corner and power itself out using the outside wheels as you neutralise the steering. Hook up this tricky rear differential to that aforementioned firm ride and you get something nothing short of thrilling.

It’ll happily flick between switchback corners unlike it weighs 1800kg, and just how it manifests its power feels exciting. In older sporty Volkswagens you’re forever fighting braking efforts applied by the car to trim your driving, but this new Tiguan R can now feed power to get it out of a hole, not just remove it.

It means it’ll encourage bad behaviour and make you want to lean on it when the road permits, and if you like driving. Remember, this is all said against the backdrop of the Tiguan R appearing to look like nothing more than a tarted-up mum-and-dad’s weekend sport warrior.

In reality it’s quite the opposite. The 235kW/400Nm 2.0-litre powertrain is still a star despite the weight, and with launch control applied will come close to the 5.1sec claim.

The engine has a strong mid-range surge that feels broader than the outgoing 2020 Volkswagen Golf R Mark 7. The updated seven-speed wet-clutch transmission is also surely reaching perfection, as it now behaves faultlessly and didn’t once lurch or hesitate with unsympathetic inputs.

It’s fast from a standing start, fast on the roll, and will even carry that fast through a set of corners on a racetrack too. Hilariously, Volkswagen let us throw one around Sydney Motorsport Park, and even when there’s no limit, its Volkswagen Tiguan R remains engaging to drive.

I love the introduction of a ‘pure’ engine mode, as it enables you to turn off the fake augmented nonsense and instead revel in the flatulence of your DSG-transmission-equipped Volkswagen, as you simply just should.

In other words, between gear changes it still goes parp, and on overrun you’ll get burbles and pops as it wastes fuel for your aural pleasure. Perfect.

Key details 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 235kW @ 5600–6500rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 2000–5600rpm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power to weight ratio 136.5kW/t
Weight (tare) 1722kg
Tow rating 2200kg braked, 750kg unbraked

It’s nowhere near as sharp as the 2022 Volkswagen Golf R, but if you want the SUV, you probably don’t care.

Your kids need all the space they can get, which makes the Tiguan R the smart buy. 

Even before you suggest the wagon, the Tiguan R is an SUV that is easier to load kids in and out of, easier for people to ‘see’ out of and ahead down the road, and offers plenty more space for activities with its better-proportioned boot.

It manages to instil that Volkswagen ‘R’ essence honestly enough, too, even at the cost of a firm ride overall. The seats are another pain point of mine, especially as the fix is as simple as using the ones from the Golf R.

Still, for a pip under $80K sharp on the road, you’re finally having your cake and eating it. From one car enthusiast to another, if the Golf R wagon was always too dorky for your better half, try the Tiguan R.

Trust me – they’ll take the bait.

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R Wagon

8.4/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

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