2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI Highline review

The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is the German brand’s answer to buyers’ ever-increasing need for seven seats. But has adding two seats and some extra metal compromised what is a well-resolved mid-sized SUV?

It’s a trend that shows no sign of abating: adding a third row of seating to an otherwise perfectly good five-seater medium SUV. Joining the party is the new Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace – a stretched version of the brand’s popular mid-sized Tiguan SUV.

It’s grown by 215mm and two seats. But, let’s be clear, this isn’t a seven-seater in the true sense. Even VW’s marketing proclaims this a 5+2, with that +2 reserved for occasional use only. And that’s because despite the 215mm of extra metal, that back row remains a tight proposition for anyone but the smallest of humans. Still, if it’s seven seats the market demands, then it’s seven seats the buyer shall have. Even if they are compromised.

To be fair, Volkswagen isn’t the only manufacturer offering mid-sized SUVs with 5+2 seating. Mainstream rivals for buyers’ hard-earned cash include the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Nissan X-Trail, while those with a few more dollars to splurge can opt for a Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Of course, step up a segment and the seven-seat options are boundless, but for now the focus is on the newest player in the medium segment, the Tiguan Allspace.

On test we have the not-quite-top-of-the-line Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI Highline that starts at $52,990 plus on-road costs. There’s a diesel variant, the 140TDI Highline, which tops the range at $54,990, but if your preferred fossil fuel is of the petrol variety, then the 162TSI is the range-topper.

Throw a few options at it, as VW has done with this test car, and you won’t get much change out of $60K. That lovely ‘Blue Silk’ metallic paint adds $700, while the Sound & Vision package asks for another $3000. And the R-Line package? That’ll be $2900, ta, leaving our tester with a sticker price of $59,590 plus the usual on-roads.

So, what do you get for your sixty-large? Well, you get a German-designed, Mexican-built mid-sizer able to carry five in comfort and seven at a pinch. Powered by Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol, in-line four-cylinder with 162kW of power (at 6200rpm) and 350Nm of torque, available between 1600–4200rpm, it’s the same powertrain as found in the Golf R. Transmitting that power to all four wheels is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Volkswagen claims a zero to triple-figures dash of just 6.8 seconds, which is pretty handy in a vehicle of this size and with the aerodynamic profile of a brick.

From the outset, the Tiguan Allspace continues the theme set by its smaller, five-seat brother, in that it’s an accomplished and well-sorted SUV. There’s plenty of push from that 2.0-litre four-pot, certainly in this top-of-the-line tune, and it feels remarkably smaller than its 4701mm length suggests. Negotiating the usual Sydney peak-hour grind is not exactly a joy, but certainly pretty effortless.

Out on the highway at cruising altitude, the Allspace presents a refined and quiet offering, motoring along effortlessly while keeping plenty in reserve should the need arise. That 350Nm of torque is ample for most applications, and stomping your foot on the right pedal for a burst of acceleration is rewarded with a nice surge of speed – not manic, mind you, just easy.

The DSG transmission, often a victim of criticism (and often justified at that), in this application is not exactly faultless, but certainly better than most. The tiniest of lag – very occasionally but certainly not always – rears its little annoying head at take-off from standstill. But it’s so occasional it barely rates a mention, but mention it we must.

Primarily, though, the DSG transmission behaves impeccably and offers a refined motoring experience, shuffling through the cogs with an imperceptible ease. It all adds up to a quiet driving experience that also returns a claimed fuel consumption of 8.3L/100km. Impressively, our week with the Allspace returned a reading of 9.0L/100km, and that included five days of inner city peak-hour traffic.

If you want to blow out that fuel consumption figure, you can always opt to throw the gear shifter into Sport mode, which will hold onto gears a tad longer than in plain ol’ drive.

Spritelier? Sure, but not so much you’d call it ‘sporty’. That said, it does ride beautifully despite sitting on optional 20-inch alloys (part of the R-Line pack) with 255/40R20 rubber all ’round. VW has done a typically good job of isolating road and wind noise from the cabin, while also tuning a ride that is easy on the car and its occupants. It’s cosseting and comfortable, going about its business with the minimum of fuss.

And that’s at least partially due to Volkswagen’s Adaptive Chassis Control underpinning the Tiguan Allspace. Simply, like most systems of its ilk, the electronically controlled damping system monitors a range of driving conditions, including braking, steering and acceleration, as well as the road surface, and applies adjustments to each shock absorber to optimise comfort and handling.

The end result? A quiet and comfortable driving experience inside the cabin. An experience heightened by the cabin itself, which once again demonstrates Volkswagen’s ability to inject a premium feel into a mass-market vehicle.

This being the top-spec Highline, the interior appointments are plenty and plush. There’s Vienna leather-appointed sports seats, with both driver’s and passenger’s electrically adjustable. The R-Line pack adds embroidered logos and what VW calls ‘decorative stitching’ in Crystal Grey. Those seats are certainly comfortable, and hugging, giving you a real sense of sitting in the Allspace, and not just on it.

The steering wheel, trimmed in leather and again adorned with an R-Line logo, feels plush and assuring in hand, while its multifunction buttons and switches are intuitive and easy to use. As well as the command centre for the car’s infotainment system, the switchgear on the tiller also scrolls through the various driver displays that come as part of the optional Sound & Vision package.

Much like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit (in fact, an awful lot like Virtual Cockpit), VW’s Active Info Display displays any number of functions and features across its 12.3-inch colour screen, all of which are customisable via the steering wheel controls. It really is next-level and adds to the premium feel of the Tiguan Allspace.

The second row is spacious enough, much like its smaller non-Allspace sibling, the seats sliding fore and aft as well as reclining. There are flip-down tray tables, airliner style, as well as a central armrest that houses two cupholders. The seats fold in 40:20:40 fashion, freeing up boot space, should the need arise. On that space, with all three rows of seating being used, the Allspace isn’t very spacious at all as far as storage goes, offering a paltry 230 litres. That expands to 700L with just two rows of seating needed, while dropping that second row frees up a total of 1775L of boot space.

Of course, the Allspace’s selling point is that third row of seats. As already mentioned, seats six and seven are best saved for occasional use, unless you don’t particularly like the people you intend to cram back there – in-laws maybe. It’s tight. And before you think about squeezing the bubbas or toddlers back there, think again. There are no ISOFIX or top tether points in the third row, meaning only older kids and adults have the pleasure of contorting themselves into place.

Ingress to that third row also requires a bit of body-bending. The second row slides and tilts forwards to offer an opening to row three, but it’s not exactly huge and does require some shape-shifting to ensure you squeeze yourself in there. It’s ungainly, and once inside, your reward is a cramped, uncomfortable seating position.

But again, treat this stretched Tiguan like a five-seater with a handy two extra seats and you’ll be rewarded, especially in this top-spec Highline trim with the optional R-Line pack. It wants for nothing, brimming with convenience, comfort and safety.

How brimming? Try these highlights: LED headlights with dynamic light assist, electric and hands-free tailgate, keyless access, three-zone climate control, a 9.2-inch colour touchscreen with gesture control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android smartphone mirroring.

Three USB points (two up front and one in the third row) will keep those devices juiced up, while both the front row and the two outboard seats in the second row are heated. Mmmm.

Safety features include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works up to 250km/h, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and airbags for all three rows. This trim level also includes adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and reverse AEB that will help curb those annoying minor bingles when reversing. The Tiguan Allspace wears a five-star ANCAP rating.

Servicing schedules are 15,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first, and will set you back $426, $622, $664, $1096, and $426 for a total of $3234 for the first five years. The Tiguan is covered by Volkswagen’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is sub-par in this day and age.

There’s no question the goodness found in the regular Tiguan has carried over to this stretched version. Sure, its proportions are probably not as aesthetically pleasing, but it still presents as a well-resolved mid-sized SUV with the added benefit of two extra seats.

Although, if your needs are for a seven-seater with all seats permanently in use, then look elsewhere or hold out for the all-new Touareg. If, however, your needs are for a comfortable and refined five-seater with the occasional need for two extra pews, then the Tiguan Allspace could be a consideration.

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