According to Volkswagen NZ, albeit for different reasons both the Golf and the Tiguan sit high up on their food chain of vehicle importance. They have both recently been significantly revised and revamped (and next gen’d for the Golf) so we were very keen to take a look.
The benchmark Golf requires very little by way of introduction, since its launch in 1974 (yes some of us still remember that far back), it has gained over 35 MILLION customers and been the hatchback benchmark that other car makers aspire to be – no pressure then.
The 8th Generation Golf upholds many of the model’s traditions but embraces the new and emerging technology that modern drivers demand. Its distinctive C-pillar remains as do the character lines and grille make up, however, they have been fettled with. The Grille is now narrower, the bonnet more sculpted and the lights are now LEDs (with a full width DRL strip on the GTI – yes there’s a GTI and R model), the result is a hatch that slips through the air barely noticed with a Cd of .275.
The character line now extends to the rear where it joins a new LED tail light set up, new badging and aesthetically-pleasing chrome exhaust tips, though the reverse camera remains hidden behind the new VW logo badge to keep it clear and clean.
VW’s tech crew have run amok in the cabin, the infotainment screen has increased in size up to 10-inches (model dependant) with MIB3, and the instrument cluster is now a 10.25” Active Info Display ‘Pro’, that’s a lot of screens and information when you throw in head up display too! It’s 5-Star ANCAP, has front assist, BLIS, lane keep assist, high beam assist, driver assist, park assist, travel assist, emergency assist – jeez any more assists and it would be an NBA hall of famer.
For extra comfort and room, VW have removed the Golf ball gear stick and replaced it with a ‘shift by wire’ nub, it makes a difference to the console clutter but I miss the tactility of the ball. The steering wheel now comes with haptic dials and switches, it’s busy but smooth. The seats are upgraded and offer more support and overall there’s an airy feeling about the small hatch.
Under the bonnet is a 1.4L TSI connected to an 8-Speed Auto, giving up 110kW/250Nm and 5.8L/100km efficiencies. The GTI comes with a 2L/7-speed DSG 180kW/370Nm and the R upps the ante to 235kW/420Nm.
The Tiguan may be late to the VW party (2007) but it’s VW’s best selling vehicle )one is built every 35 seconds) and boasts their most loyal customers – although I still know people that own an original Beetle. The new Tiguan is in essence a facelift but visually and more importantly technically it’s a big one.
Restyled lights front and rear, aggressive new front bumper, new rear bumper, new SUV family grille, new ‘R’ logo, a few tweaks here, some extra changes there, the result is a refreshed, more confident design. Inside the infotainment screen is now up to 9.2-inches (model dependent) and comes with MIB3. Again it comes with a suite of VW safety stuff and assists, the climate control is touch sensitive, you get a choice of 30 different ambient light colours, it has a new haptic touch wheel, new gear lever and a Harman Kardon stereo option for the upper models. The new Tiguan is powered by a 2L TSI and generates 132-162kW and 320-350Nm depending on the model and 2WD/4Motion option.
The day’s activities began at the QT Hotel in Auckland, a boutique hotel that I’d never been to before, (we only got to see the boardroom). From there it would be a driver to Brick Bay winery (nr Snells Beach) for lunch and then a return drive to the city. We opted for the Tiguan there and the Golf back.
The new Tiguan feels more premium. The upgraded interior and technology is easy on the eye and easy to navigate around. It’s quick to respond and rather intuitive (spoiler here – it’s the same in the Golf). The ride itself is comfortable and nippy, we had the 2WD model and in sport managed to overtake a tidy amount of traffic up hill in the passing lanes. The cabin is quiet and the road noise is minimal. Admittedly the ride there, including a driver change half way was just a taste but it’s easy to see why this SUV is so popular.
We took a slightly more scenic route back, and one that included a few additional bends, we were in the Golf 8 after all. The cabin is really uncluttered and although (as I said before) I miss the golf ball, the feeling of more space is a welcome treat. The tech is great but I personally need a little more time with the haptic wheel, call it fat fingers or an old mind but I need to get my head around no tactile dials.
The information is aplenty but more importantly the ride is still very Golf like. It lapped up the corners and even left a Mk 6 GTI in its wake. Again it was just a taste but the signs are good.
The VW Golf and Tiguan are of course catering to different markets but the both do what they do well. The Tiguan, with its elevated ride and premium styling and the racy Golf with its vibrant attitude and desire to drive offer instant appeal to their respective markets – the technical upgrades and new design features simply add to the pleasure. Looking forward to the follow up drives.