The most Tiguan modest money buys overcomes a humdrum powertrain to impress for real-world family hauling
“I really like this Tiguan, Dad,” declares offspring Campbell, aged 12, a stone’s throw from home after a marathon nine-hour road trip, his longest to date.
Bar getting fidgety at hour five after his laptop battery died, he settled in, bonded well with the front passenger space and is well pleased with the Allspace TSI110 Life’s manner.
His voluntary appraisal is certainly a beaming endorsement for Tiguan’s core comfort and long-haul family fitness.
Is this really all that surprising? Well, perhaps it is. While the Allspace ought to be glove fit for the purpose at hand, the most affordable 110TSI Life could be excused for compromised comfort due to its modesty in luxury and nicer appointments.
Further, for the tyranny of Aussie touring distances, the relatively stripped-out, small-engined version is perhaps the Tiguan variant one mightn’t ideally choose nor endorse.
And yet, with its legs stretched and its little 1.4-litre turbo four-pot unstressed under adaptive cruise control, sipping away at an indicated 6.5L/100km consumption, it transpires that there’s a whole lot to like – and little to grumble about – in the 110TSI Life’s service of the great Aussie Christmas holiday getaway. More on that shortly…
The revised Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace lobbed mid-2022 with a fresh face and lots of choice – four different engines across five different launch variants – and a tickle in spec to accompany a modest price rise over the early-generation range that arrived in 2017.
At what amounted to a modest $2000-$2500 upcharge over five-seat Tiguans, the longer, more flexible and roomier seven-seat Allspace looks quite enticing indeed.
Still, not all ducks lined up. Pesky component shortages spawned the likable if slightly oddball Allspace Adventure – low-ish frills, five seats only – because Volkswagen couldn’t land the large and popular 162TSI petrol engine, usually reserved for high-spec Elegance and sporty R-Line guises, into showrooms to coincide with the facelift’s launch. More choice? Why not?
The diesel 147TDI Elegance offered a high spec option, , while those with tighter purse strings could dip down into humbler Life trim with the staple 132TSI two-litre petrol four.
Whichever way you went, you got all-paw drive, including a newcomer Monochrome version: a sort of R-Line with a brooding aesthetic and a multimedia downgrade, a key area of the specification list afflicted by chip shortages that has caused Volkswagen a good many headaches of late.
With so much to lure walking up the range, why would one bother with the most basic Allspace in the fold: the 1.4-powered, front-driven 110TSI Life? Well, it starts with sharp pricing and ends, predictably, with what value it trades in goodness, be it features or the experience.
Unsurprisingly, the base Allspace’s big pitch is affordable seven-seat spaciousness in a German badged (and Mexican built) machine asking for $44,490 list, or for a sub-$50k on-road price as a cleanskin.
It’s $2000 pricier than the regular (109mm shorter) five-seat Tiguan 110TSI Life (at $42,490 list).
Life might be the humblest for three ‘core’ trim grades, sat below the Elegance and R-Line tiers, but there’s plenty on offer to elevate the base grade above and beyond poverty-pack status.
Outside, Life spec brings auto LED headlights and tail lights, auto high beam, heated and power-folding mirrors, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and 18-inch Kingston-style wheels.
Inside, the base Allspace features Cockpit Pro digital instrumentation, 8.0-inch Discover multimedia with proprietary satnav, DAB+, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, while inductive phone charging and three-zone climate control are nice inclusions at this grade. Seating is manually adjustable and trim is cloth, as you’d expect. A space saver spare is standard.
More on safety below, but it’s worth mentioning here that Life spec includes VW’s so-called Travel Assist, which essentially pairs adaptive cruise control and lane centering technologies together for neat long-haul driver convenience.
Options? The Luxury package, at $5600, brings ‘comfort sport’ seating with Vienna leather-appointed trim, a heated/ventilated front row, driver’s side electric lumber and memory functionality, and a panoramic glass roof.
You really ought to consider the electric tailgate option as essential fitment too as, at $600, it adds keyless remote entry and push button start. The convenience of these features over the life of the car make the spend more than worth it.
Solid white, as tested, is standard, though there are four metallics and one pearl paint option that all add $900 to the list price.
Base spec fits the 110kW/250Nm 110TSI 1.4-litre turbo petrol four, a six-speed dual-clutch auto and front drive. If that’s a little too underbaked for you, it’s usually a four-grand walk-up into the 132TSI ($48,490 list), which brings the larger and lustier 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol four, a seven-speed DSG and all-paw drive.
However, at the time of review, Volkswagen has the 132TSI Life version on limited offer for a very enticing $49,990 driveaway, complete with three years of free servicing.
As we discovered reviewing the wider Allspace range at its launch six months back, it’s the Life that proves the most naturally cushioning ride comfort.
It mightn’t have the breadth of ride/handling duality demonstrated by the adaptively damped Elegance (sat on 19-inch wheels), but the base version’s blend of nicely compliant passive damping and larger aspect ratio 55-series 18s bring a settled refinement to progress.
It’s especially evident, particularly to my 12-year-old passenger, on the open road. With cruise control dialled up, it’s solid, comforting and impressively resilient to noise – across any road surface – vibration and any sort of harshness.
It doesn’t feel long and at touch over 4.7 metres it’s not particularly so, either, though the extra 109mm of wheelbase over the regular Tiguan surely adds a little extra planted stability when cruising.
Given the front-drive version’s DSG tops out in sixth, the turbo 1.4 buzzes north of 2000rpm at around 110km/h, where long highway stints return consumption around the indicated 6.5-litre mark. Mash the throttle to overtake and it picks up pace well, though not assertively, as the gearbox nips a clean downshift to pluck the engine’s 250Nm torque peak.
Let’s face it, if you’re discerning about powertrain performance or touring frugality, you’ll favour the 162TSI or 147TDI options respectively. But the 110TSI isn’t necessarily a bad option that’s generally caught too short as a cross-country proposition.
Reemerging on a motorway from a loo/fuel/food break is the biggest challenge, but tap the transmission into S-for-sport and there’s enough gusto to spin the wheels and plug gaps in traffic if you’re suitably committed.
The 110TSI Life isn’t very quick. Volkswagen claims 9.5 seconds for 0-100km/h performance, which is 1.3sec slower than the 132TSI Life and a yawning 2.7sec slower than a 162TSI-powered Elegance or R-Line.
But sheer performance isn’t necessarily where the 110TSI front-drive combination is most lacklustre, especially around town. The bugbear is in response.
By nature of the small-turbo/dual-clutch marriage, torque arrives as a sharp midrange hump. And while there’s plenty of shove – 250Nm isn’t too shabby – response and enthusiasm on either side of the engine’s (1500-3500rpm) peak torque sweet spot can become downright lethargic. And often.
Let’s call it what it is: a make-do powertrain for a seven-seat format. Two up and a bit of luggage, the Allspace 110TSI makes decent and somewhat dignified progress driven with restraint on the right pedal.
A good small family vessel, as it’s positioned. But load it up with loved ones and fill its boot, and the small-engined Allspace powertrain becomes grumpy and uncouth in protest.
The aforementioned tap-for-sport mode becomes handy second nature around town, one familiar to a good many Volkswagen (and VW family) owners. While lighting a fire under the Tiguan’s response in drivability, this does tend to punish fuel economy: double figures for a daily commute or the run to the shops is commonplace.
For city and urban driving, the ride is fine, though our example suffered a little from a front axle clunk over speed humps. The jury is out as to whether this is an isolated case to this vehicle or typical for its breed, but it’s a solid blot mark on an otherwise very clean ride comfort sheet.
Chassis wise, the Allspace is a real peach, with a crisp nature and taut chassis control. It feels lean and cooperative at the helm, its excellent outward visibility adding to a genuine sense of lightness.
It’s easy to place and to slip into tight parking spots, its parking sensor and camera assists are clear and intuitive, and it’s quite an untasking machine used as a daily runabout.
The Tiguan Allspace 110TSI will tow 1800kg braked. Decent, if quite a bit down on the 2500kg rating of versions further up the range tree fitting lustier powertrains.
First impressions are that the Life’s grey-dipped cabin is overly austere and clearly cost conscious in the conspicuous area of its cloth trim. But it’s a cabin space that’s easy to warm to once you settle in.
The seats are very good. Despite the limited manual adjustment, the front pews’ slightly sporty if relaxed and supportive nature provided ample comfort across two nine-hour stints.
The cloth, too, is equal parts welcoming and hardy, though it is prone to getting quite grubby easily, particularly the armrests and console bin lid.
The strange silver-grey highlight work doesn’t bring much added joy but the cabin is neat, airy and fetchingly straightforward. There’s also just enough pliant satin trim to offset the generous application of shiny plastic, though not enough to spoil the neat Teutonic presentation.
The nice facelift-spec leather-trimmed wheel – with proper physical buttons, not the frustrating touch-capacitive pads found on R-Line models – and sharp if modestly sized digital instrumentation do add a bit of upmarket celebration, but the lack of flashiness is actually more welcoming than it is a detriment.
From the flocked door bins to the quality of the switchgear, it’s solid if familiar and somewhat unadventurous Volkswagen stuff.
The 8.0-inch multimedia system clings to a generation-old look and format but it’s clear and quick in its responses.
The wireless Apple CarPlay is equal parts hit and miss as it functions well paired with a single iPhone if it gets confused on start-up when two different devices are Bluetoothed. Similarly, the handy inductive charge pad works only sometimes.
Dual front and a single rear USB-C ports cover small device power well enough but the nicest touch for row two is easily the third-zone climate control with dedicated temperature adjustment.
As we’ve long remarked about the ‘stretched’ Allspace form, row two is wonderfully roomy, with exceptional head and legroom.
It’s not the widest SUV cabin out there, though there’s perhaps ample three-adult shoulder room for short trips. Huge doors, too, make for easy entry, egress and access to mounted baby capsules.
The (row two) slide and tilt access to the third row is fine enough for the small-stature passengers the rearmost seating is so obviously tailored towards. As we’ve reported in the past, it realistically is a kids’-only zone here, and works appreciably well if that’s the extent of your expectations.
The boot space, at 700 litres as a five seater, is enormous in volume and practical in form thanks to the deep nature of the space.
Even with all seats in play its 230L is quite handy. Converted to a two-seater, the Allspace liberates almost two metres of mostly horizontal load space depth (1775L total), which proves ample for my son’s large 24-inch BMX cruiser without removing a wheel plus extra space for bags, suitcases and other Christmas holiday road trip addenda.
In short, it’s a fetching, fully formed cabin space that is fundamentally comfy and welcoming, that doesn’t feel cheap and offers excellent, flexible practicality.
The Life bundles in the same IQ Drive suite of safety features and conveniences as fitted further up the Tiguan range. These include forward AEB with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, brake assist, lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance and maneuver – or low-speed autonomous emergency braking while parking – front and rear.
The Tiguan Allspace fits seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag.
Due to chip shortages, some features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert were dropped from the facelifted Tiguan, if due for reintroduction this year.
Not coincidentally, the five-star ANCAP rating that applies to the pre-facelift version – that fits such features – is currently expired, as stipulated on the ANCAP website.
The Tiguan Allspace is covered by Volkswagen’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is decent if short compared with the seven-year surety offered by sister brand Skoda.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilotmetres, whichever comes first.
Volkswagen offers three-year ($1400) and five-year ($2400) Care Plan servicing bundles, the latter the saving of effectively removing the outlay for the first service.
The TSI110 engine requires either E10, which is generally quite cheap, or 95RON premium, which is a bit pricier. As mentioned, consumption on test fluctuated between mid-sixes on the open road to into double figures around town during the daily commute.
Perhaps the big surprise of the 110TSI Life is that even in its most basic form the Tiguan Allspace feels like a quality item, mature and European (despite its country of origin). Like its small stature Golf sibling, that core Volkswagen goodness remains even when you start stripping some of the niceties and frills out of a package pegged to an affordable price.
For a tenner under $50K driveaway, the TSI110 really does seem like value, because it feels like good quality at an enticing price.
Of course, with the Tiguan Allspace, there’s a lot of choice once you walk up the range. And our feeling is that the four-grand outlay to upgrade the powertrain to 132TSI spec is money better invested in the $5600 for fancier seats and a panoramic roof.
Again, at the time of review, VW Oz has the lustier 132TSI Life all-wheel-drive version at a tenner under $50K driveaway, with three years of complimentary servicing.
While the Life specification isn’t overly fancy, the cloth fitout is actually quite likable and homely. This is a certifiably comfortable machine, backed by high levels of spaciousness and practicality, and minted with fine driving manners, grumpy powertrain apart.
And while it’s slightly flustered around town, the smart seven-seater really comes into its own nicely as a long-legged cruiser, where its refined character, spirited dynamics and decent frugality come together really nicely indeed. Just ask my son.
The Skoda Kodiaq was already one of our favourite SUVs, and the small tweaks made for this facelifted model only have only improved it in our eyes
Key specs (as tested)
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Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 2023: three years free servicing, stock available for popular seven-seater
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