FIRST DRIVE | The 2021 VW Tiguan is a respectable steed

11 August 2021 - 09:44
The new 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at R521,000.
Image: Supplied The new 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at R521,000.

Who do taxi drivers respect on the road? In my experience, the next taxi – and in rare cases, drivers of vehicles they admire. In this story, the newly-launched, facelifted Volkswagen Tiguan seemed to fit the latter bill.    

Not to pin unruly behavior just on the Quantum operators, but in the township of Mamelodi, where I am from, they surely think they own the roads. Especially in times of peak traffic. It is in your best interest to pull back when there’s a tug of war over space. You will get cut off. Sliced in front of. And hooted at for stopping at a red traffic light. The nerve the rest of us have, following the law!   

On this occasion, I was not in my little Polo Vivo. The quick adjustment to the respect the Tiguan earned was welcomed – with caution, of course – as way was given by the usual road bullies at every turn. A lovely surprise. Smiles spread on their faces as they animatedly mimicked the scrolling indicator lights. I was officially Queen of the Concrete Jungle.   

19-inch Valencia alloys do a great job at filling those arches.
Image: Supplied 19-inch Valencia alloys do a great job at filling those arches.

This car is quite the looker, especially with R-Line kit. Nightshade Blue, a metallic option, is an alluring colour choice. The most noticeable updates on the exterior of Tiguan are the redesigned bumpers, tweaked radiator grille with the new VW badge and revised LED headlight clusters. The R logo on the side of the car is also new and carries over to the rear, where it is placed under the VW badge, no longer on the bottom left side of the boot. The changes are enough to give the car a refreshed, sharper and overall more appealing feel and look. Add to the list of highlights a set of 19-inch Valencia alloys.

I’d decided that a road trip was in order, so off to Mpumalanga we went. The cabin seats five grown adults comfortably, although my two occupants at the rear appreciated the space with just a picnic basket between them. The cabin itself has also undergone a few changes. One attraction is the newly-designed multi-function steering wheel – best use those controls if you want to keep the infotainment screen free of fingerprints.

Most impressive for our self-nominated road DJ was the high-end Harman Kardon sound system, an optional extra valued at R11,400. It was well-suited to the distinctive acoustic subtleties of the amapiano genre.    

With the vibe properly set, we basked in the impressive craftsmanship of the refreshed Tiguan. It’s a refined, sophisticated vehicle, with a streak of sass tinting the usual air of coolness projected by Volkswagen products. With VW’s App Connect system, you’re easily able to synchronise devices with the infotainment system via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. Other driver-assist features available include lane-change assist, side assist (which helps the driver stay in their lane) and adaptive cruise control, which provides a more relaxed drive over long distances.

Interior is well equipped if not a little on the sombre side.
Image: Supplied Interior is well equipped if not a little on the sombre side.

Our two-hour journey was in true comfort as the suspension took road imperfections in its stride. The route was a good mix of gravel and tar. Our test unit was the 1.4 TSI that pushes out 110kW and 250Nm, with the sport mode option more for show than shine. A six-speed, dual-clutch automatic is on duty.

The new model comes with USC ports. We would have appreciated if it just one of the available charge ports were of the long-standing USB variety most of us still use. Alas, tech changes and eventually we’ll all catch on.

More than six million units of the Tiguan were sold worldwide since 2007. The latest version continues to shine in a sport-utility vehicle market that is saturated. But from Queen of the Jungle to Queen of the Humble, it was back to my Polo Vivo. The Quantum-quelling strength of the confident Tiguan would certainly be nice to have permanently.


1.4 TSI 110kW: R521,000 

1.4 TSI 110kW DSG Life: R587,200 

1.4 TSI 110kW DSG R-Line: R644,500 

2.0 TSI 162kW 4MOTION DSG R-Line: R710,000   

* Includes three-year/120,000km warranty and five-year/90,000km service plan.