VW Tiguan Allspace seven-seat SUV is a practical playmate
OWNING a modern car is all about versatility. Some want the ability to travel off-road, even if their version of off-roading involves pitted gravel tracks; some want cargo capacity and some want seating capacity.
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace covers all of the above bases and slots - belatedly - into a market where 5+2-seat SUVs have increasingly gained traction.
This is VW's first seven-seat SUV and it leverages the interior quality of the Tiguan with the practicality of an SUV that can haul a host of adults or help shift house. The 109mm longer wheelbase endows an extra 60mm of legroom and 54mm of knee room. Who isn't going to appreciate that?
The popularity isn't hard to assess - the Allspace gives owners the freedom to carry a regular two adult, two kid configuration with a massive boot space or flip up the pair of third-row seats and let the kids bring playmates home after school.
Aussies are increasingly realising their bush-bashing aspirations amount to melaleuca branches brushing the side mirrors on a dirt road and the Allspace will easily accommodate that.
Just ignore the fact the drive modes include off-road settings beyond the default snow mode that most people really won't want to test (but they'll boast of their vehicle's capability).
VW Australia managing director Michael Bartsch talks up the Allspace as "a premium SUV that is priced well below the luxury car tax threshold".
"As has been the case with the normal wheelbase Tiguan, the single best-selling Tiguan Allspace variant will be the 162TSI Highline - almost half of overall take up. Some 70 per cent of these customers will also take up the R-Line option," Bartsch says.
Plaudits go to the Allspace for not riding as high as some competitors - few seven-seat soft-roader owners will tackle much more than a rain-rutted gravel road. The Allspace by comparison has a solid roadholding ability yet can still deal with bush tracks.
Sadly for VW, among the rivals is the related Skoda Kodiaq SUV, derived from the same platform and our current Car of the Year.
The Kodiaq has a bigger luggage area, more rear room and is cheaper but it can't match the VW for interior quality or standard features. You get what you pay for.
In the case of the Allspace that equates to a premium of about $3000 over the Kodiaq. In VW's favour, the soft-touch plastics are playdough pushable, the infotainment screen is one of the best in the business and, in 162TSI guise, the digital display screen is hard to fault.
There are five versions of the Tiguan Allspace, starting at $40,490 for the Comfortline (110kW/250Nm, front-wheel drive) with power tailgate, LED headlamps, eight-inch infotainment screen, three-zone climate control (but no third row vents), full-house active safety software, 18-inch alloy wheels and parking sensors front and rear.
Spend $45,490 on the 132kW/320Nm all-wheel drive version and the dual-clutch auto adds a seventh ratio. For another $1000, you get the 110kW/340Nm diesel AWD.
Highline versions start at $52,990 for the 162kW/350Nm petrol engine or $54,490 for the 140kW/400Nm diesel. Inclusions are a 9.2-inch display, ambient interior lighting, adaptive cruise and chassis control, leather upholstery and heated seats in the front and outer pews in the second row.
Metallic or pearl-effect paint adds $700. Beyond that, option packs run to four figures, with the in-demand R-Line Pack adding specific bumpers and sills, 20-inch alloys, black leather upholstery, metal pedals and paddle-shifters for $2900. Having sat in this one, I would probably spend the coin.
ON THE ROAD
The longer wheelbase makes the Allspace slightly less nimble than the regular Tiguan around corners. I defy owners to notice the difference - it is evident only at a pace that will sicken rear occupants. And that's not the rationale that led you to the Allspace in the first place. In most conditions, the longer wheelbase does a better job of dealing with bumps and lumps on the road.
That's true of the 162kW/350Nm Highline R-Line we tested, where the combination of adaptive dampers and a potent engine gives drivers scope to cruise or crank it up.
In this segment, the biggest asset isn't outright handling but the ability to handle the needs of those aft of the driver. And the VW rates highly here.
There are separate controls for the rear aircon and seat heating, adjustable air vents, flip-up tables, a 12V socket and USB port. The back seat bases are flat but there's head and leg room to accommodate tall adults easily.
The same can't be said of the third row seats, which - as in most occasional seven-seaters - are kid-only affairs. Luggage capacity is 230L with all seats in use, climbing to an impressive 700L with the back seats folded down. The cargo bay also contains a removable torch, shopping bag hook, underfloor storage for the luggage screen and a 12V outlet.
Safety is the other key consideration when carting the family and the stretched Tiguan inherits the standard SUV's five-star safety rating. Seven airbags protect the occupants, with the curtains extending through to the third row. Standard gear includes autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and blind-spot warning.
The dual-clutch auto works flawlessly up and down the ratios once under way but can intermittently hesitate when accelerating from a standstill at city lights. It is frustratingly inconsistent - loop back to the same bit of bitumen and the Allspace won't repeat the misdemeanour.
That's about the only blemish on the VW's copybook. The steering responds quickly to inputs without giving a huge amount of feedback - and my wife will argue that's how seven-seaters should be set up, given drivers are usually focused as intently as what's happening in the car as to what's going on outside.
The Tiguan Allspace is a practical machine with premium features. It is set to carve out its share of the occasional seven-seat segment and will do it with verve.
Kia Sorento $42,990-$58,990 plus on-roads
Matches the Allspace for standard safety but the 3.5-litre V6 claims 10.0L/100km, the thirstiest in this cohort. Seven-year warranty and interior space appeal but the VW edges it for features.
Nissan X-Trail $32,490-$38,700 plus on-roads
Seven-seat X-Trails are petrol-only, front-drive propositions. Build quality is great but materials and features are starting to date. The 2.5-litre uses 8.1L/100km.
Hyundai Santa Fe $40,990-$57,090 plus on-roads
New seven-seater has all the bells and whistles plus five-year warranty. The refined 2.4-litre claims 9.3L/100km and boot space lags Allspace.
Skoda Kodiaq $42,990-$52,990 plus on-roads
Shares VW's top-spec diesel but doesn't get the Allspace's 162kW engine. It is a bigger car but not as well appointed as its stablemate.
Toyota Kluger $48,500-$69,600 plus on-roads
Thirsty 3.5-litre V6 claims 9.1L. Ample room but interior quality can't rival the Allspace.
VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN ALLSPACE 162TSI HIGHLINE
PRICE $52,990 plus on-roads
WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km
SERVICING 12 months/15,000km; $1712 for 3 years
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning
THIRST 8.3L/100km (95 RON)