Subtle yet menacing, rapid and spacious. The hot hatch has grown up – and the Volkswagen Tiguan R is ready to be your all-round family sports car.
- Iron fist in a velvet glove performance
- Spacious family-friendly interior
- Under-the-radar styling tweaks
- Not as sharp as Golf R
- Fiddly steering wheel and climate controls
- Price encroaches on prestige SUVs (though most can’t match the R’s performance)
How much does the Volkswagen Tiguan R cost in Australia?
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R takes a formula Volkswagen has successfully applied to its Golf hatch range and gives it a family-friendly makeover.
The appeal is obvious: dedicated sports cars aren’t versatile family cars, and family cars don’t often set pulses racing. Now that hatchbacks as family cars are declining in popularity, it stands to reason that a medium SUV would step up to the plate.
In the case of Volkswagen’s hottest-ever Tiguan, the upgrades see the Tiguan get engine, suspension, driveline and styling changes that bring it into line with Volkswagen’s R performance sub-brand ethos.
Under the bonnet beats a 2.0-litre turbocharged heart capable of 235kW and 400Nm linked to a slick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch auto, and pushed to the pavement via variable all-wheel drive with rear axle torque vectoring.
You’ll feel those elements on the road, but you’re sure to clock the deeper bumpers, gloss-black body kit details, 21-inch alloy wheels wrapped over blue brake calipers, and quad-tipped exhaust from a distance.
Outside of traditional prestige brands, this level of performance is hard to find in the medium SUV market. It comes at a price, from $68,990 plus on-road costs right now, but that still sees it undercut and outperform most of those true prestige rivals at a similar price.
|Key details||2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R|
|Price||$68,990 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Lapiz Blue|
|Options||Panoramic sunroof – $2100
Harman Kardon audio – $1100
|Price as tested||$72,190 plus on-road costs|
|Drive-away price||$81,794 (Melbourne)|
|Rivals||Skoda Kodiaq RS | Lexus NX350 | Mazda CX-5 Akera Turbo|
How much space does the Volkswagen Tiguan R have inside?
As a member of the five-seat Tiguan family, and not the larger seven-seat Tiguan Allspace range, the Tiguan R is firmly family-sized and not extended-family capable.
That’s not to say it’s short on space, though. The cabin offers spacious interior dimensions, with no qualms up front, and a good commanding view without feeling too lofty.
While the front seats are trimmed in nappa leather, 12-way power adjustable, with memory and heating, they aren’t really sports seats. They’re the same tame profile as found in regular Tiguans – not the grippy, deeply bolstered sports seats found in a Golf R.
Rear seats are similarly mainstream, as you’d probably expect. There’s enough space in the rear for adult passengers to stretch out, but the centre seat is firmer and higher than the outboard positions, so better suited to kids or short hauls.
Overall, Volkswagen’s decision here is probably clever. Sports seats aren’t always a one-size-fits-all, and the needs of a family car for the adults up front to reach into the rear mean the ‘normal’ seats up front make this much easier.
In the rear, temperature controls, air vents, USB-C and 12-volt power, a fold-down centre armrest, and multi-pocket front seatbacks are all present. Comfort and versatility are well catered for, then.
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Like the front seats, the rears feel spacious, but apart from some blue piping details and carbon-look inserts, they don’t look especially R-like.
Boot space keeps the roomy theme running, with a generous 615L to the rear seats and 1655L with the rear row folded. Seat-fold levers and bag hooks can be found on the boot walls, and a hard (rather than retractable) cargo cover keeps prying eyes off your cargo.
The tailgate is power-operated, with easy open and close needing just a wave of your foot under the bumper to activate.
|2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R|
|Boot volume||615L seats up
1655L seats folded
Does the Volkswagen Tiguan R have Apple CarPlay?
Volkswagen blends a ‘blurst of both worlds’ approach with the Tiguan’s infotainment platform. Mixing some of the best and some of the worst of VW’s current thinking.
Unlike the new Golf, the infotainment system doesn’t do absolutely everything via its touchscreen, with functions like climate control operated by their own dedicated buttons. Unfortunately, those buttons and the steering wheel controls are capacitive touch controls, adding a layer of fiddliness to what should be simple.
The infotainment itself is slick, with a 9.2-inch display offering crisp graphics, quick load times, and excellent brightness – even in piercing sunlight. The driver’s head-up display, a flip-up type projected on a panel, not on the windscreen, doesn’t match the same level of presentation.
Satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, wireless and wired CarPlay and Android Auto Access, and Bluetooth streaming are all standard. There are also functions like voice control and gesture control to make access even easier.
For some reason, the Tiguan goes without wireless phone charging, which makes the power-sapping wireless phone mirroring a less attractive offering.
A 10-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system is available as an option and was fitted to our test car. It’s absolutely worth the $1000 upgrade – but in the current climate of supply delays, ticking this option could hold your new car up in the production queue.
Ahead of the driver, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster offers multiple display options and specific R modes. User-customisable features make it easy to set up the info you want to see at a glance or minimise those you’re less interested in.
Is the Volkswagen Tiguan R a safe car?
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R carries over its original five-star ANCAP safety rating awarded to the Tiguan range back in 2016.
Under those six-year-old guidelines, the Tiguan performed extremely well in terms of adult occupant protection (96 per cent). However, its child occupant protection rating of 80 per cent and safety assist and pedestrian protection ratings (both 68 per cent) could be better.
Under revised guidelines, ANCAP ratings are set to expire at the six-year mark, after which time the Tiguan will move to ‘unrated’ status, unless it is reassessed against modern ANCAP criteria.
Included safety and driver assist features incorporate adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, reverse manoeuvre braking, blind-spot monitor with steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, driver fatigue monitoring, matrix LED headlights that can mask off approaching traffic while maintaining high-beam spread around vehicles, 360-degree cameras, and semi-autonomous parking assist.
How much does the Volkswagen Tiguan R cost to maintain?
Volkswagen’s range is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Pre-paid servicing packages are available priced at $1650 for three years, or $3100 for five years with a claim the first service is included free of charge. Compared to pay as you go, this represents a saving of $173 over three years or $954 over five.
An estimate for comprehensive insurance for the Tiguan R comes out to $1384 per year on a comparative quote based on a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1650 (3 years)
$3100 (5 years)
Is the Volkswagen Tiguan R fuel-efficient?
Volkswagen gives the Tiguan R an official combined-cycle fuel consumption rating of 8.8 litres per 100km.
During a week in the Drive garage that included a broad scope of weekday commuting, open-road touring, and some ‘red mist’ track work, we returned a still decent 11.3L/100km. More typical day-to-day use is likely to result in a more efficient overall figure.
Volkswagen does stipulate top-shelf 98-octane premium unleaded, though, so there’s no skimping on fuel bills, and some out-of-the-way servos may not always be able to assist.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.8L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||11.3L/100km|
|Fuel type||98-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||58L|
What is the Volkswagen Tiguan R like to drive?
As a proud member of the R family, the Tiguan R – like the Golf with which it shares a large amount of its mechanical package – packs a 235kW and 400Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine.
That’s the same as you’ll find in a Golf R hatch, but 20Nm down on the Golf R wagon. At this point, though, it’s worth pointing out the Tiguan R carries an additional 221kg of bulk over a Golf R hatch.
The result, unsurprisingly, is the the Tiguan R feels less rambunctious than the Golf R hatch. Partly because it’s more portly, but also because the underpinning hardware is more Golf 7-related than current-spec Golf 8.
That said, the the Tiguan R does include the tricky torque vectoring rear differential that makes the Golf R hatch such a hoot. Interesting though, where the Golf R hatch feels incredibly lively through the rear axle, even at sedate speeds, the Tiguan R has a much more neutral (and dare I suggest, easy to live with) feel.
In all honesty, it’s probably for the best that the rear end of the heavier Tiguan is better behaved. There’s a sense of brattishness in the Golf that I think the Tiguan is all the better for bypassing.
You still get a fastidiously honed performance machine, however, capable of a claimed 0–100km/h time of just 5.1 seconds.
As a fast grand-touring machine, the Tiguan R really hits the nail on the head. It has sizzling point-to-point performance and can tuck in eagerly on the right stretch of flowing blacktop.
Around town the R suspension feels tight, even in Comfort mode, and can get jittery in Sport – although never seems to crash and bash, maintaining control even on some of the most ragged roads.
It’s also possible to go maximum-attack and select Race mode, with a quick-access R button on the steering wheel, or from the console-mounted drive mode controller. For inclement weather, there are terrain modes too, though our blacktop adventures didn’t call these into action.
In a move that most owners are less likely to make, we did run the Tiguan R around the Haunted Hills race circuit. It’s a tight and unforgiving ribbon of tarmac with no wide-open straights.
Those conditions are far from ideal for the Tiguan, but it still puts up a good fight. It’s deftly quick, but doesn’t feed the under-tyre sensations back to the driver terribly well, creating an insulated disconnect between the driver and the track.
Try as the all-wheel-drive might, there’s a sense of nose-heaviness, and some understeer in the mix when firing out of tight bends.
The images you see in the gallery of the Tiguan R parked alongside a steam strain couldn’t be more apt. The ‘speeding locomotive’ ideology rings true for this one: it’s undeniably powerful and faithful in its handling, yet doesn’t draw the driver in with the lure of heart-stopping excitement.
That does at least mean you can handle the school run in comfort or a cross-country road trip with relative ease, and still have enough GT-style punch to revel in an adventurous piece of blacktop.
While it may not provide the comic relief of a smaller, lighter Golf, the Tiguan instead offers the consolation prize of more practical space in a package that’s unlikely to disappoint out on public roads.
|Key details||2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||235kW @ 5600–6500rpm|
|Torque||400Nm @ 2000–5600rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||136kW/t|
|Spare tyre type||Puncture repair kit|
|Tow rating||2200kg braked
Should I buy a Volkswagen Tiguan R?
Volkswagen seems to have cornered the market on sizzling SUVs – between the VW brand and subsidiaries including Porsche, Audi, Cupra and Skoda – there’s a real push to bring performance to the cars people are buying.
In the case of the Tiguan R, this is less of a hot-hatch makeover and more of a repositioning of what performance means: big, comfy, able to handle family life, but with performance in reserve to excite on demand.
It feels unlikely the Tiguan R will capture the hearts and minds of Golf R fans, but it opens the door to a new league of performance fans. A little less focussed on outright track times, perhaps, but absolutely no worse for it.