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First published by: The Straits Times, Christopher Tan
Volkswagen has downsized the engine of its Tiguan sports-utility vehicle, but the car is still surprisingly big on performance.
In fact, you might never know it has a 1.4-litre heart if VW kept quiet about it. The car is perky from the word go. Low-end acceleration is excellent, making it an incredibly effortless carriage to pilot in the city.
"Most times, you will have no need to flick the gear lever to Sport. But when you do, the Tiguan's uncanny liveliness goes up a notch".
Passing bigger-engined cars requires no more work than squeezing the throttle lightly. The car's twincharged (turbocharged and supercharged) engine obliges all too willingly.
Before you know it, you are approaching three-digit velocity. And the engine is merely humming.
With twincharging, a mechanical supercharger ensures loads of torque are on hand when revs start building up. When the revs are up, the car's exhaust- driven turbocharger takes over.
The tag team works well. The Tiguan 1.4TSI has 240Nm of torque available from just 1,500rpm. This compares very favourably against the 2-litre Tiguan Sport's 280Nm/1,700rpm.
It loses out to its big-hearted twin only towards the high end, where 150bhp of grunt pales in comparison to 210bhp.
Which is why the Tiguan Sport clocks a 7.3-second century sprint, versus the 1.4TSI's 9.3.
"The deficit is not apparent in everyday driving, though. Because with the car's exceptional low-end prowess, most tasks can be accomplished without the tachometer breaching the 3,000rpm mark".
The other thing that makes the downsized Tiguan so driveable is its six-speed dual-clutch autobox. Its ratios and shifting pattern seem ideally suited to the engine's characteristics.
Again, this contributes to seamless, effortless progress.
The cherry on top of the icing is predictable and spunky throttle response. Every bit of additional foot pressure translates to a perceptible increase in speed. Many car-makers, however, are unable to calibrate this well, resulting in unaccountable power voids that often lead to pedal-stomping frustration.
The Tiguan remains as adept to life in the urban jungle as before. Ride and handling characteristics are more hatch than SUV-like.
The advantages of a smaller engine are quite evident then, especially when they do not come with any significant performance penalty.
You pay lower road tax and COE premium. And theoretically, you should also incur smaller fuel bills.
Volkswagen states that the Tiguan 1.4TSI can cover 100km on 7.1 litres of petrol. A three-day test-drive, admittedly in city roads mostly, revealed an average consumption of 11.5 litres/100km. It might have been higher if the car was not equipped with engine start-stop and coasting functions.
It goes to prove that you cannot get something for nothing. Hence a generous amount of performance cannot be had on top of a big drop in consumption.
But at least the Tiguan gives you the performance - something you cannot always count on in other cars.
Also, the test car is shod with bigger wheels - 18-inch instead of the usual 17-inch. Bigger wheels are heavier and thus result in a slight increase in fuel consumption.
The Tiguan 1.4TSI does not come with a complete suite of premium features. It has electronic parking brakes but no cruise control. It has keyless access and ignition but no shift paddles.
At the end of the day, its main proposition is still its small, torquey engine, and the big-car performance it offers.
VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 1.4TSI
Price: $161,300 with COE
Engine: 1,390cc 16-valve inline-4 twincharged
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch with manual override
Power: 150bhp at 5,800rpm
Torque: 240Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm
0-100kmh: 9.3 seconds
Top speed: 193kmh
Fuel consumption: 7.1 litres/100km
Agent: Volkswagen Centre Singapore
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