The seven-seat SUV segment in India is booming, and how. Among the most popular segments, it’s the Rs 30 – 40 lakh price bracket that’s been witnessing a lot of traction over the past couple of years. Previously it was only mighty mud pluggers like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour that were your choices if you wanted an SUV with more than five seats. We then had softer options like the Skoda Kodiaq and Honda CR-V enter the arena. The newest kid on the block though is Volkswagen’s Tiguan Allspace and we’ve had a go in it to see if it can cut the mustard and hold its own in this important segment.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past couple of years you’d know the five-seat Tiguan was on sale in India, powered by the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel mill. That’s history now, with the German marque chucking oil burners in favour of turbocharged petrols, another technology it has mastered. So we now have the Tiguan Allspace in India, powered by a 2.0-litre TSI petrol motor. Effectively the SUV has thus gained a whopping 44bhp as the petrol engine offers 187bhp (along with 320Nm) along with the additional space and two seats. And well, no diesel option – for a while to come.
Besides the bright (and more youthful-looking!) ‘Habanero Orange Metallic’ colour the Allspace also gets significant styling changes to distinguish it from the five-seat version. There are generous helpings of chrome all round, while the front grille design looks more upmarket and closer to the current generation Touareg’s, while the headlights look different too. Of course, the basic silhouette is the same and the chiselled body lines have not changed either so you can recognise this as a Tiguan instantly. The tail lamp internals gets the same geometric design as well, albeit with a slight difference. Overall the Tiguan Allspace wears the same understated German look and has a distinct air about it.
The understated theme is carried over inside as well and again, not much has changed from the five-seat Tiguan, though one important addition is the fully-digital instrument cluster. The steering wheel, albeit well equipped, could have been different and its rim thicker in my opinion though. What impresses the most inside the cabin though is the quality and the fit-finish levels. All controls feel tactile to use and have a robust feel to them. The infotainment system gets all the usual connectivity options with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and is simple and smooth to operate. However, it is susceptible to glare and fingerprints, which can be a little annoying.
The front seats are comfortable and cushioning feels just right for long trips. Adjustable lumbar support, electric seat adjust and a memory function for the driver’s seat also helps. The three-zone climate control system works well to keep you cool or hot while the panoramic sunroof does an excellent job of keeping things airy and open. The second-row seats are well-contoured, but a little more under-thigh support would’ve helped. Unlike the five-seat version, second-row seats in the Allspace get individual folding trays for using a laptop or having a meal. The plastic for the trays could have been slightly sturdier though, as it does not match the fit-finish of other components. Another impressive bit here is that there’s plenty of storage spaces all round, including dedicated bottle holders for the third row too.
Ah well, that brings me to the third row! The Allspace is 335mm longer to fit in the third-row seats. However, fitting into the third row is a story itself. For someone who’s about 178cm it’s difficult to get in and out of the third row, despite the second-row seats moved and folded forward. A bigger concern is sitting in there once the second-row seats are back up! There certainly isn’t enough space for an average adult and it is a very tight squeeze. The third row should work fine for children as they come with proper three-point seat belts and adjustable headrests. But it can get a little claustrophobic as the windows are not too big. I do like the smart packaging of things in the boot though – the parcel tray sits neatly folded into the boot, as do the space saver spare wheel and tool kit.
Onto our favourite part then! A petrol engine under the hood of the Tiguan Allspace does make a big difference to the driving experience. The engine is also quite eager to rev and power delivery is pretty linear as you would expect of a force-fed petrol unit but it’s the midrange that’s the meatiest here. Also, the engine is rather quiet at idle but give it the beans and the motor emanates a sporty note, which coupled with the shove it offers makes for a car-like feel. The Tiguan Allspace pulls cleanly across the rev range and you can even hear the turbo lift off sound if you listen closely. Getting to speeds is thus cakewalk for the Allspace, even when accelerating through the gears as the seven-speed DSG is a real peach of a gearbox and overall the powertrain does an impressive job of lugging the 1.8 tonne SUV around.
The Tiguan Allspace also handles the way a Volkswagen ought to. The steering feels pretty light at slow speeds but weighs up well as you go faster and also feels pretty direct. More importantly, despite the larger size and additional weight as compared to the five-seat version, the Allspace handles almost as well and again, offers that familiar, confident car-like feel. What’s most impressive about driving the Tiguan Allspace is that it doesn’t feel large and heavy like most other full-sized seven-seat SUVs. The 4Motion system allows you to tackle varied terrains and from experience we know the Tiguan can tread off-road if needed. Driving modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual and tailor the performance and shift points for the DSG and there’s a set of paddle shifters on the wheel too, but like before, they’re a tad too small! Oh well and it’s a CBU, so you don’t have the terribly irritating speed beep buzzing your brains out should you cross 120kmph!
To sum it up, the Tiguan Allspace does have all the tools to cut the mustard in this segment. The third row may not be practical, but the extra space offered by the Allspace is certainly welcome. Not to forget that rock solid, German build quality, understated yet elegant interiors and of course a cracker of a powertrain. Can it hold its own in this segment? We’ll have to wait and watch but at Rs 33.12 lakh (ex-showroom) for a seven-seater SUV coming in via the CBU route, the Tiguan Allspace does have a lot going for it.
Engine: 1,984cc, turbocharged stratified injection petrol engine
Torque: 320Nm@1,500 to 4,100rpm
Transmission: 7-speed DSG
Price: Rs 33.12 lakh (ex-showroom)