A relatively compact seven-seat SUV, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace returns in facelifted form with polished dynamics and plenty of choice
Sourced from the Volkswagen Group’s Puebla, Mexico plant, the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is basically North America’s Tiguan: it’s built to the same standards as the German-constructed five-seat model, but longer rear doors indicate that there’s a longer wheelbase here, accommodating a small third row and huge boot within subtly elongated proportions.
Since its introduction to Australia in 2018, the seven-seat Allspace has accounted for about two in five local Tiguan purchases. It isn’t hard to see why: quality is indistinguishable from the ‘shortie’ German and the upcharge to the bigger and more flexible VW SUV is modest, as it remains at $2590.
Reflecting its status as the best-selling Volkswagen model in the country, both Tiguans continue to offer the most buyer choice out of any of the brand’s vehicles sold here.
The Allspace can be had with one of four turbocharged four-cylinder engines – petrol in front- and all-wheel drive, and an AWD diesel – along with three trim grades. The two lower-output petrols are sold in now-bolstered Life specification before the range moves onto the premium 147TDI diesel and 162TSI petrol engines in luxury Elegance or athletic R-Line trim.
While Mexican production is perhaps a bit freer for Allspace when compared to the congested Wolfsburg line the standard Tiguan proceeds down, supply remains very tight for the desirable 162TSI R-Line model in particular – the one Volkswagen says most buyers really want.
That said, there are several thousand Allspaces currently on-water to Australia, mainly in Life trim, while there is reasonable supply of the diesel-fed $58,690 147TDI Elegance. An order placed now for most models can still be delivered within six months, though wait lists can be expected to balloon.
To combat the fact the 162TSI is hard to get in spec-laden Elegance and R-Line trim, Volkswagen Australia has cooked up an unusual five-seat 162TSI Adventure specification with chunky tyres and the high-power petrol engine to tide towing types and enthusiasts over alike, with about 1200 examples of that car arriving in 2022. The Adventure hoovers up fewer precious semiconductors; it has manually-adjustable cloth seats, for instance.
With the Allspace returning to Australia after a hiatus, now in more lithe-looking facelifted form, we reacquainted ourselves with the 110TSI Life ($44,590), 147TDI Elegance ($58,690) and 162TSI R-Line ($60,190) with an extensive drive within and outside of Sydney.
Adding 109mm to the wheelbase of the ‘normal’ version of this SUV adds interior space but also marginally relaxes the gait of the Volkswagen Tiguan – not that the regular car was uncomfortable to begin with.
The Allspace shares the regular Tiguan’s well-judged suspension characteristics, which blends carsickness-avoiding firmness and tight body control, but the Allspace has slightly better overall bump absorption as surface shocks have more time to dissipate through the chassis thanks to the stretch between the axles.
We continue to slightly prefer the Allspace’s chic and accomplished cousin, the Skoda Kodiaq, which strikes an even better blend of ride comfort and handling nous, but very extended waits on the Czech-constructed Skoda make the Puebla-produced Tiguan a proposition you can actually get your hands on within half a year (at this point).
No matter which Tiguan specification you go for, you’re buying an SUV that is among the sportiest in its class handling-wise, with well-weighted and fairly direct steering and a front end that follows your directions faithfully.
Buyer-favourite R-Line grades are the most athletic thanks to the zeal induced by lower-profile tyres and large-ish 20-inch wheels, but there is an enthusiastic chassis under all Tiguan (and Allspace) grades – but performance-minded buyers should note there’s no stretched version of the Tiguan R sports SUV.
Most actively cushioning for now is the ride of the Life grade, on 18-inch wheels and passive dampers, but our preferred balance is the lux-spec Elegance, which splits the difference in the boots with 19-inch wheels and tyres while sharing adaptive dampers with the R-Line. Later, the Adventure grade will wear snow chains easiest and provide kerb-bumping peace-of-mind with amusingly chunky tyres and 17s.
In the engine department, the front-wheel drive 1.4-litre turbo petrol 110TSI engine (110kW of power and 250Nm of torque) and all-wheel drive (AWD) 132TSI 2.0-litre (132kW/320Nm) can only be paired with the young-family-focussed Life grade.
Neither engine is especially troubled by the 4.7m length and circa-1750kg kerb weight of the Allspace Life, though those who want a lower-end Tiguan but plan to carry a lot of people or cargo on the regular will want to opt for the capable 132TSI which flexes its higher displacement on steeper hills that can start to challenge the 110TSI/seven-speed dry clutch combination.
There continues to be a noticeable split between the Life engines and the more premium 162kW/350Nm 162TSI petrol and 147kW/400Nm 147TDI diesel that share a heavier-duty yet smooth seven-speed wet-clutch DSG automatic. There is no diesel Life; instead, if you want the very considerable efficiency benefits of diesel you’ll be ordering an Elegance or R-Line.
It might be going out of fashion but a turbo diesel engine still makes so much sense in a car like a Tiguan Allspace, especially for buyers planning to do country road trips or actually use the seven seats inside more than once in a blue moon. The TDI engine is smooth, quiet and very muscular…and it consumes 30-40 percent less fuel than its TSI siblings in the real world.
Still, the 162TSI petrol remains king of the Allspace lineup. As petrol engines go it isn’t that thirsty (although it is when compared to the diesel), and it makes great use of its charismatic, tractable EA888 engine that also does service in a range of high-output VWs, including the Golf GTI, albeit in a more modest state of tune here.
There’s simply an underlying sense of solidity and premium-ness to the way the Tiguan Allspace’s control surfaces work together in harmony – steering, damping, throttle and brake all feel like they were signed off by the same person, and that that person actually likes driving.
Despite its significant interior dimensions the Allspace isn’t a loud thing on the road, not even on coarse chip; refinement is good, as is visibility out of the conventional, square glasshouse. No rattles or driveline vibration was evident in any of the three examples we drove at length.
All Tiguan models now include Volkswagen’s IQ Assist driver assistance suite, which bundles adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist – which can work together in an intelligent Travel Assist mode on the highway for relaxing, lane-centred cruising with just a monitoring hand on the capacitive steering wheel. Forward and reversing AEB is standard, as is blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert – though these blind-spot features will be deleted soon until 2023 due to semiconductor shortages; Volkswagen acknowledges this is not ideal.
An effective exterior nip-tuck has made the Tiguan Allspace meaningfully more attractive, especially from the front, where neater, slimmer, all-LED headlights look more expensive than the old square units.
Inside, there have been a few minor changes, but it is largely a carryover cabin from the 2017 Tiguan. This is probably Volkswagen’s most sensible and conservative interior – as expected for the brand’s best-seller that has to appeal in so many markets – but it’s a little devoid of fun, especially now that the novel second-row aviation-style tray tables have been deleted.
Overwhelmingly grey inside are the cloth-trimmed Life cars, though you can up the appeal significantly by upgrading to leather, by purchasing an Elegance or R-Line or by optioning a Life with a luxury package ($5500) that also brings worthwhile seat heating and cooling features standard on those higher-tier variants.
If Volkswagen’s relatively soft, titan black-coloured Vienna-grade leather is an upgrade, we imagine the effect is compounded by instead choosing the alternative, lighter hide colour called storm grey, available as a no-cost option for the Elegance or as a choice in the Life luxury package.
Speaking of the seats, the front pews are firm and supportive with good lumbar, no matter whether they are manually-adjustable (Life), with power adjustment for the driver (Life luxury package), or both 12-way power adjustable (Elegance, R-Line). However, the slight but odd forward-pitched, minivan feel of the seat base has not been eliminated in the facelift process. You get used to this.
Subtle ‘Mk 2.5’ Tiguan adjustments take in new steering wheels, still creamily leather-bound and mercifully equipped with easy-to-use hard buttons in the Life and Elegance. Annoyingly, the sporty R-Line is saddled with far more fiddly touch-capacitive controls, though it also picks up satisfying steering wheel leather perforation.
All Tiguan drivers now look forward at a digital instrument pack, now with a higher-resolution screen and a software change. A full map, multimedia, assistance tech or a vast array of trip information can be placed in your line of sight – more convincing than a surprisingly old-world, plastic-shield HUD that is part of the Elegance and R-Line’s $2600 sound and vision package.
That package also adds a useful 360-degree parking camera – atop the standard reversing camera view, sensors and AEB – plus a 10-speaker, 480-watt Harman-Kardon stereo. The premium audio system makes individual tones easier to identify, but the base six-speaker stereo is surprisingly rich and acoustically pleasing – so we’d probably put this cash towards the $2100 sunroof, and premium paint ($900-$1100).
Further afield on the dash is an 8.0-inch touchscreen on Life or a 9.2-inch unit on Elegance and R-Line. Both units are a generation old in Volkswagen-world, but that’s actually a benefit because VW’s previous software was snappier and easier to use than the underpowered new screens in the latest Golf. Plus, there is a dedicated climate control panel with discrete fan and temperature controls.
Little niceties like flock-lined door bins and a height- and length-adjustable armrest remind that Volkswagen is still Volkswagen.
Longer rear doors than the normal-wheelbase Tig reveal a cavernous second row, particularly if you don’t need to deploy the third row. Huge headroom, generous legroom and decent shoulder-room even with three across make this a versatile family car, even if we lament the replacement of the tray tables with flimsier smartphone pockets. Air vents and a separate temperature zone are standard, though inbuilt window sun shades are not available.
Slide the second row forward about half-way and it makes it possible to pull up the third row manually from within the vast boot space. Volkswagen does not have a proper full-size SUV in Australia – as in, nothing to compete with the Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger – but the Allspace does its best to extend the Tiguan’s pragmatism for very occasional sixth/seventh seat use.
Set your expectations correctly and there will be no disappointment; this is a (young, small) kid-only zone. Trying to cram my six-foot frame back there was virtually impossible due to lack of headroom, but younger kiddies will have fun in the tight confines. Families with kids entering the tween years would be better-served first by the Skoda Kodiaq, which has superior third-row packaging, or something big, like a Hyundai Palisade or Volvo XC90.
But even if you never need the third row promised by the Allspace, you can benefit from the SUV’s increased boot space when compared to the standard Tiguan. In five-seat mode, space behind the second row swells from 615L in regular form to 1046L as an Allspace, and in reality, it’s a bigger, deeper, more usable area.
That’s one selling point of the forthcoming long-wheelbase 162TSI Adventure model, which ditches the third row entirely (as do police-spec, 162TSI-engined Allspaces, by the way) in favour of just having this massive boot.
Currently, you access that space via a power tailgate door, though this feature will be relegated to the options list within months as Volkswagen battles semiconductor shortages – a problem affecting the industry at large.
While Volkswagen does not mirror sister brand Skoda’s offer of a seven year service plan with seven year extended warranty, purchasing a pre-paid service pack remains the best way to reduce long-term ownership costs for a Tiguan Allspace.
No matter the engine, an Allspace demands scheduled maintenance every 12 months or 15,000km – whichever comes first – but buying a five-year/75,000km service plan functionally knocks off the price of the first service for a sizeable discount.
For the mechanically-simpler 110TSI Life grade the pack costs $2600, while the diesel plan is $2750 and the AWD petrols attract a $2950 fee – with the trio averaging out to annual servicing costs of $520, $550 and $590 respectively. That’s not too bad, though it’s worth noting that servicing a Toyota RAV4 hybrid costs just $230 per year for the first five years.
As before, the Tiguan Allspace still requires lower-sulphur 95-octane premium fuel, making it kinder on the atmosphere (but more expensive to fuel) than 91-standard SUVs. But the Volkswagen is pretty frugal; the petrols use 8-10L/100km despite their smooth and torque-rich performance.
But the diesel is the outstanding vehicle here for running costs; we were easily able to achieve 6L/100km real-world fuel consumption; we’re sure if you were actually trying to hypermile you could hit low-fives.
In practical terms, at $2.20 per litre, a 162TSI could cost an average Australian about $3000 per year at the bowser, but opting for the 147TDI diesel slashes this spend to about $1800. In other words, you’d make back the $1500 diesel upcharge in ten months of driving. That’s worth thinking about.
As with every Volkswagen sold in Australia the vehicle is covered by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty – par for the course nowadays. Skoda has an optional seven-year warranty, while Kia gives you seven years with all of its cars as standard.
The Tiguan’s vibe of feeling like a stretched Golf remains intact – and the Allspace’s goodness in simply being a stretched Tiguan continues to be its most charming attribute.
There is little disputing that families who actually need to use the third row on a regular basis – or for people older than maybe 10 – will need a larger vehicle than anything with a Volkswagen badge in Australia.
But for smaller, younger families wanting more room than the rather compact, standard Tiguan can provide – or simply buyers wanting an even more relaxed, graceful Tiguan for country touring – the Allspace makes a lot of sense.
The fact you can simply get your hands on one in a relatively reasonable timeframe – at least at the moment of writing in June 2022 – is an argument for ordering an Allspace over the regular car, which has enormous wait lists sometimes reaching more than 12 months.
That could all change as buyers cotton onto the availability of several thousand inbound Allspace examples, including the forthcoming Adventure spec – but for now, the Allspace is solid, semi-premium buying – a comfortable and dynamic SUV at a fair price.
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Variant tested ALLSPACE 147TDI ELEGANCE
Key specs (as tested)
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