TRANSLATED into the animal kingdom, these high riding wagons like the VW Tiguan are cane toads without the toxic implications.
Sports utility vehicles are spreading like wildfire and the trend shows no sign of abating.
In a softening market, SUVs are bucking the trend. Large cars are on the endangered list and these faux off-roaders are filling the void.
Among them is a rare beast which is a cross between a tiger and iguana. That's where the Tiguan name is derived, and Volkswagen has timed its arrival to perfection.
The variant has been around since 2008 just as SUVs were gaining momentum, and it's one of the genre's most popular offerings.
This week a revised range was unveiled with prices which have risen slightly, between $500 and $1100.
Now there's a four engine range - three petrol and one diesel - with the key introductions an updated oil-burner, along with a range-topping R-Line model, which adds some extra sporting zing to the line-up.
There have been some additions throughout the range, including a rear view camera, 16.5cm touch-screen, leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel, along with fatigue detection.
The latter analyses driver behaviour, keeps tabs on steering wheel algorithms and reminds the driver when it's time to take a break. Active above 65kmh, it provides a warning on the instrument panel which pops up again in 15 minutes if the driver has not stopped.
Another safety introduction is the Golf GTI- derived Extended Electronic Differential Lock which helps prevent wheel spin. It applies pressure to the wheel on the inside of the corner which is designed for better braking pressure and a sportier drive.
Key changes in the powerplant realm are the 2.0-litre diesel, which now generates 27 more kilowatts and an extra 60 Newton metres over the outgoing model. The hero is a 155 kilowatt turbocharged petrol variant which also marks the introduction of an R-Line offering to the Tiguan stable.
Essentially status quo in this arena, the Tiguan remains practical and inoffensive.
Two bottle holders in the front, and two in the rear when you fold down the middle seat, along with a range of handy storage areas make for a useful cabin.
A $2500 R-Line package is available on mid-spec 132TSI and 130TDI models, which adds some sporting touches for those who want bucket seats as well as additional bling inside and out.
On the road
Dipping into bends with confidence and accelerating with unyielding prowess, we needed reminders this was in fact an SUV.
While the star of Volkswagen's updated Tiguan range is the 155 kilowatt petrol R-Line, stealing the spotlight was the new diesel. It's an awesome little engine.
The oil-burner has more punch than the old model and sips less fuel, with bucket loads of torque available from low in the rev range.
Needing less revving than the petrol, the 130TDI answers acceleration requests immediately.
What do you get?
On the stock standard list are alloy wheels, cruise control, multi-function display with trip computer, MP3 compatible CD stereo with USB port, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, air con with chillable glovebox and a leather wrapped steering wheel.
Safety is well covered with six airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic differential lock as well as the new Extended Electronic Differential Lock.
The R-Line model get aggressive front and rear bumpers, 18-inch Mallory alloy wheels, leather trim, sports steering wheel with paddle shifters and R-Line front door sills. It also gets Adaptive Chassis Control which can switch between sport, comfort and normal suspension settings.
For those who want the $2500 R-Line package on 132TSI and 130TDI Tiguans, it gains all the same internal and external features but misses out on the chassis control function (select between normal, comfort or sport) and gets sports suspension instead, while the seats are trimmed in Alcantara/cloth.
Optional extras include metallic/pearl effect paint $700, while available to all models other than the base is a panoramic sunroof $2000, sat nav $1300 and leather trim with electric driver's seat $3500.
Looking to save some coin and have no issue with diesel? Buy the 130 kilowatt turbo diesel and option the R-Line package.
The new diesel is an outstanding drivetrain. Despite going without the Adaptive Chassis Control, it feels more balanced and responsive under power.
Yet there isn't much to dislike about the entire Tiguan range.
Volkswagen has simply buffed an already shiny line-up which offers among the best driving dynamics you'll find in the compact SUV segment.
Model: Volkswagen Tiguan.
Details: Two-wheel drive and all-wheel compact sports utility vehicle.
TSI engines: 1.4-litre four-cylinder twin-charged petrol generating maximum power of 118kW @ 5800rpm and peak torque of 2400Nm @ 1500-4000rpm; 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol 132kW @ 4300rpm and 280Nm @ 1700rpm; 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder 155kW @ 5300rpm and 280Nm @ 1700rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic (118TSI), seven-speed DSG automatic.
Consumption: 6.9 litres/100km (combined average) and 7.3L/100km (a); 8.8L/100km.
Bottom line: 118TSI (m) $28,990, 118TSI (a) $31,490, 132TSI (a) $36,990, 155TSI R-Line (a) $44,990.
TDI engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 130kW @ 4200rpm and 380Nm @ 1750rpm-2500rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.2 litres/100km.
Bottom line: 130TDI (a) $39,990.
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