IQ Drive is Volkswagen’s marketing term for their suite of active driving safety assists.
How the tables turn. Thirteen years ago, Volkswagen’s Tiguan was the baby compact crossover in a segment pushing out in all sorts of directions. At the time the Toyota RAV4 offered three rows of seating, the Honda Element offered rear-hinged doors and many offerings sported V6s. Now the RAV4 only seats five, the Honda Element doesn’t exist and V6s are all but gone from the segment. While everyone regressed back to small sizing, Volkswagen forged ahead to make the new Tiguan one of the only compact crossovers with an available third row. But is there more to this 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan IQ Drive than just an extra pair of seats?
On the outside, the Tiguan doesn’t rock the boat. No floating d-pillars, garish grilles or illuminated emblems here, just pleasing conservative German styling. Worth noting is the incredibly crisp main character line down the side of the Tiguan, an astonishing radius to bang out perfectly every time from a manufacturing perspective. Further down on the body side there’s enough plastic cladding to be usefully rugged and the greenhouse is large and upright. Up front, the grilles are sized appropriately and the headlights are surprisingly crisp for not being LED units. Rolling stock is a sensible 17-inch wheel size and plenty of tire sidewall for soaking up imperfections, a nice change from the ludicrously large sizing so often seen these days.
Step inside the Tiguan and it appears as if the designer of this IQ Drive model had Blue by Eiffel 65 on repeat while picking out material colours. Every seat and door card insert is roughly the same shade of grey-ish blue as a dental office from the 1990s, a bold statement that some will love and some will not. However, step past the Forever 21 90s-revival colour scheme and the Tiguan’s interior is refreshingly thoughtful and gimmick-free.
For starters, the door bins front and rear are lined with soft carpet. This may seem strange at first, but fundamentally it’s excellent design and a bold decision to push past the bean counters. Automotive carpeting is quite expensive but it has awesome sound-deadening properties and is also used to prevent items from rattling. Just about every other cubby on the Tiguan is rubber-lined and the phone pocket is generously-sized. To the left of the steering wheel is a compartment for parking passes, fuel receipts and underneath the false cargo floor is room for the cargo cover. All interior lamps on our test car were LED, a wonderful touch of thought and modernity that keeps colour temperature consistent while providing superior illumination over traditional bulbs.
As for the seats, this Tiguan came optioned with seven of them, although five come standard. The front two are supportive, comfortable and fitted with a high range of adjustment while the middle three recline, slide, fold forward for access to the third row and are generally a pleasant place to be. The back two seats are only suited for children and only for short journeys, but they’re good to have in case the in-laws pop round or your children have friends. The second row also gets a single USB port and a twelve-volt socket, useful for charging up devices. One thing all passengers will appreciate is the panoramic sunroof, a truly massive affair that lets heaps of light in and really brightens up the cabin.
Connectivity is high in the Tiguan, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, a 3.5mm auxiliary audio port, a spare SD card slot and even a CD player. As for the audio system itself, it isn’t bad at all. Staging is fairly balanced, harmonic distortion is reasonably low for a non-branded system and the three-band equalizer offers up nice adjustability. It’s a good clean system for all sorts of music, better than many premium offerings we’ve tested.
Driving the Tiguan is best described as easy. Steering is light and accurate, ride quality is certainly on the soft side but still well-damped and the powertrain is sufficient. There’s only one engine on offer, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making 184 horsepower and a stout 221 lb-ft. of torque. Paired with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, it motivates the Tiguan effortlessly, if not speedily. Torque comes on low-down and hangs around through the mid-range which really helps in taking off from the lights. Once on the highway, the long overdrive gears keep things hushed, sedate and economical. We averaged 9.7L/100km over our week of testing, just beating the official combined rating of 10.2L/100km.
The Tiguan’s handling manners are quite composed. Ride control over freeway expansion joints is comfortable and well-damped with only the occasional slight jounce, likely from the tall sidewalls. Comfort over broken city pavement is also among the best in the compact crossover class. Fling the Tiguan into a corner and it responds well within reason. It’s still a family-sized vehicle that’s taller than most sheds, but body roll is well-controlled and the amount of feedback when approaching the limits of adhesion is very confidence-inspiring. One driving quirk worth noting is that the Tiguan uses a non-linear unit scale on the speedometer. While this helps fine control of speed around town, it takes an adjustment period for many drivers to get used to.
IQ Drive is Volkswagen’s marketing term for their suite of active driving safety assists. While not as dramatic as GM’s advanced driver aids or Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, IQ Drive is arguably better than either because it’s programmed to assist rather than automate. For example, lane-keep assist won’t keep the Tiguan perfectly centred in its lane, but it will gently nudge it within the lane if it starts to drift. The driver is still responsible for vehicle control which keeps attention on the road. Worth note is the Tiguan’s particularly deft adaptive cruise control system, offering smooth operation over a surprising variety of following distances and a minimum following distance that is just about perfect for traversing the 401.
So what does all this cost? Well, our test car came out to $38,430, which is about mid-pack in the compact crossover segment. That makes the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan IQ Drive easy to drive, easy to use, spacious, comfortable, well-priced, reasonably economical and well-equipped. Even if a third row isn’t a major consideration, the Tiguan seems like a solid buy in the burgeoning compact crossover segment. It doesn’t offer a hybrid variant like the Toyota RAV4 and it isn’t as gorgeously designed as a Mazda CX-5 but it’s an extremely cohesive package that many buyers will love.