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Review: Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI 110 kW R-Line
Seven-seater SUVs. In North America, they are a thing. And South Africa, too. The local market’s best-selling SUV is Toyota’s Fortuner. Which has a third-row of seats, although they are not often used.
If you want a German seven-seater SUV, it’s usually priced way beyond R1m. Legacy luxury vehicle brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz market ultra-large seven-seater SUVs. Vehicles like the Q7, X7 and GLS. A caveat is Mercedes-Benz’s GLB, which is about the size of a mid-sized SUV, but has third-row seating.
Smarter seven-seater SUVs
VW’s spotted an opportunity to compete with GLB, in a segment below R1m, where they offer a seven-seater SUV in the guise of Tiguan Allspace. What’s the difference between a standard Tiguan and the Allspace? Well, it’s 217mm of length and a third-row of seats.
Tiguan is an established presence in the local market and has been an excellent revenue source for Volkswagen. It has effectively transitioned most legacy Golf customers and kept them within Volkswagen’s product matrix, instead of allowing conquest by the rival brands.
But there is an issue with seven-seater SUVs. And the most successful of these, Fortuner, illustrates it. Fortuner’s third-row seating is often removed and placed in the garage instead of used. And that’s a waste.
Think about the luggage space issue
If Fortuner owners don’t use their third-row seats, why would Volkswagen market a version of the Tiguan with seats six and seven that can’t even be removed?
We spent a week driving the Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI 110 kW R-Line to discover if a bigger Volkswagen mid-sized SUV, is better.
Seven-seats bring utility and compromise. They offer the opportunity to transport six passengers (plus the driver), but the cost is luggage space. And with SUVs, luggage space is currency.
Who will the Tiguan 1.4 TSI R-Line work for?
The logic of Allspace ownership is simple: if you have kids, it’s a big win. Those rearmost seats are easily deployable and accessible, with the second-row seats sliding to provide access. Would kids be happy in the third-row seats for a journey from Gauteng to the coast? No. But that’s not what they are for.
Third-row seats provide a safe accommodation solution for short journeys under an hour. When the kids and their friends want to attend a venue or sports event. And for those eventualities, Tiguan Allspace is terrific.
When you aren’t the lift club parent of choice, what are the benefits and debits of an Allspace? You don’t trade luggage space. Because it is 217mm longer than a five-seater Tiguan, the Allspace has 145-litres more luggage space, totalling 760-litres.
More cruising stability
The extended wheelbase of Allspace, has advantages beyond the obvious. And these relate to high-speed stability.
Adding distance between the axles improves stability. That’s a simple factor of vehicle engineering. And with Allspace having a 110mm longer wheelbase than the standard Tiguan, it does track a touch more confidently at cruising speeds.
The 1.4-litre turbopetrol engine could be considered a touch undersized for a seven-seater SUV, but it delivers more responsive performance than its 110kW and 250Nm outputs suggest. Much of that is credited to the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Volkswagen has been the most successful exponent of dual-clutch gearboxes. Although most of them now have seven speeds, the Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI 110 kW R-Line’s six-speed dual-clutch gearbox is very cleverly calibrated for its purpose.
What doesn’t it do well? Infotainment.
The optional Discover Pro infotainment screen’s size and resolution are impressive, but there are issues with its UX functionality. Primarily because it lacks physical buttons and dials for some of the crucial functions, like volume and core home-to-sub-menu navigation.
Discovering that exact function touchpoint on a touchscreen infotainment system is nearly impossible when driving. Especially if you drive at speed in a complex urban environment with junctions and roving pedestrians, which command your attention. Or even rural South Africa, where there are many road hazards.
Our best suggestion with the current range of Volkswagen infotainment systems is not to select Discover Pro infotainment system. Go with the standard Tiguan infotainment, featuring two physical dials, to control volume and core menu selection. They are much more intuitive to operate than the Discover Pro infotainment system’s virtual touchscreen haptics.
Is it the German urban Fortuner?
The Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI 110 kW R-Line is an smart alternative to South Africa’s most popular seven-seater SUV, Toyota’s Fortuner. It has much better refinement, cabin comfort and high-speed handling stability. However, you do sacrifice durability on rough terrain.
The most pertinent question that anybody considering a seven-seater Tiguan should ask is how valid those additional seats are in their daily driving routine. Because the premium between a five- and seven-seater Tiguan 1.4 TSI R-Line, is R45 100. Use that to calculate how valuable the additional space would be for driving routine and passenger requirements.