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2014 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

The Tiguan pledged Volkswagen’s R-Line fraternity way back in 2008, survived the hazing and humiliation to become a certified member of the ancient German trim-package society (by “ancient,” we mean 10 years old). The 2014 Tiguan R-Line is the scion of that first-generation compact crossover and joins the Touareg, Beetle and CC in the brotherhood.

What it provides is better looks for the same heart: every Tiguan carries a 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI engine up front, turbocharged and intercooled, sending the same 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet either to the front wheels or to all four via a Haldex-clutch-equipped 4Motion system. Volkswagen touts the option of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, but such buyer discretion only applies to the front-wheel-drive model. If you want 4Motion, you have to get the automatic, and the R-Line cannot be had with a manual. Both FWD and AWD models are rated at 26 highway miles per gallon, but in the city, the manual FWD returns 18 mpg, the automatic FWD gets 21 mpg and the AWD gets 20 mpg – none of which is terribly pleasing for a compact crossover, particularly when premium fuel is recommended.

Driving Notes

  • On the outside, beyond the badging, R-Line spotters will take note of body-color side skirts, black wheel arch extensions, a roof spoiler, HID headlamps and power folding side mirrors.
  • R-Line interior extras include leather seating surfaces and power front seats along with a flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and aluminum sill plates. The interior is a premium VW affair with leather that exudes all the right vibes and everything else feeling soft to the touch. The choice materials and two-tone instrument panel overcome the minimalism of the center console and the huge sunroof keeping the cabin bright. A very nice Fender audio system is standard, and so is a trial of Volkswagen’s new Car-Net connected services suite (the People’s Car version of OnStar).
  • VW charges the Tiguan with “putting the ‘Sport’ in SUV,” crediting it with having the soul of the GTI (but not the same heart), and we didn’t scoff at the bombast after a couple of hours behind the wheel. As we mentioned in our recent First Drive of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee – even though we drove the Tiguan before it – there are crossovers that are finally and truly delivering on the promise of a car-like ride, the Tiguan R-Line being a prime example. We threw it at the same scrunched-up Sonoma Valley curves we had just tackled in a base-trim 2014 Jetta with the new 1.8-liter base engine. The 115-hp Jetta got a gold star for being capable and fun, but the compact crossover that looks like a big shoe is a perfect hoot to drive.
  • It’s almost always mentioned that the R-line doesn’t add more horsepower, but few mention that in applications like the Tiguan, the R-Line can do more with its power – it has larger 19-inch wheels wearing 255/40 R19 Pirelli Scorpions (versus 17- or 18- inch wheels on less aggressive rubber) and a firmer, sport suspension tune means it isn’t only about appearance. Plus, the Tiguan R-Line is the only trim to get shift paddles on its steering wheel.
  • Yet we almost never touched the paddles. That 207 lb-ft of warthog grunt comes on from 1,700 rpm, same as the 200 hp, and the six-speed transmission didn’t need help knowing where to be in the rev range when called to attention. With 4Motion all-wheel drive there for the assist – the Haldex center diff can move almost 100-percent of the torque to the rear wheels, during acceleration, for instance – they easily get the 3,591-pound crossover connecting one uphill ess to the next, that firmer suspension and those Scorpions taking over to get one through those corners as wished. On milder runs at highway speeds, the cabin is quiet and composed, and the staccato flow of urban drive is like being in a VW sedan with a booster seat.
  • For 2014, there are five Tiguan trims, with a healthy price climb from bottom to top. The base S starts at $22,995 and the range-topping R-Line begins at $36,535, or $37,400 after you add $865 for destination. Check the 4Motion box and you’re at $39,355. The Tiguan we drove had been optioned up to $39,625 with the addition of four Monster Mats, a trunk liner and a first aid kit. That’s more money than a base Audi Q5 with the same engine.
  • A quick run through a few configurators put the Tiguan at about $1,400 more than a similarly equipped Chevrolet Equinox, about $3,700 more than a Ford Escape and roughly $7,000 more than a Mazda CX-5 – the first two of those being among the eight vehicles VW lists in the Tiguan’s competitive set. All of them have more headroom, legroom and cargo space than the Volkswagen. They are also all down on power compared to the Tiguan, in some cases quite a bit down, and only the Mazda can come close to the driving experience. But the competitors (in four-cylinder guise) do get better gas mileage on less-costly regular fuel. If you don’t need the R-Line features, the SEL trim omits the look-faster and turn harder kit and provides an instant $4,000 discount with an MSRP of $32,670. It will take more than that to explain the huge disparity in sales between the Tiguan and its competitors, of course.
  • The Tiguan – any Tiguan, but especially the R-line – strikes us as a lifestyle choice in a segment guarded by the twin sentinels of Practicality and Value, those watchmen ready to disembowel the sales of non-conforming competition. Remember when the Internet’s circuit boards glowed red because of enthusiasts raging at the ‘dumbing down’ of the 2011 Jetta, livid that VW acceded to market dictates and unveiled a vehicle that was a far better competitor for a segment also guarded – even more intensely – by practicality and value? The Jetta has sold in five-digit quantities every month since that happened, something that could not be said of it before. In fact, its sales are still climbing two years after it hit the market. The Tiguan, meanwhile, remains representative of the VW that demands premium money for a premium product no matter the trim and no matter the segment, and it has sold more than 3,000 units in a single month only once since January 2010. As a lifestyle proposition, though, the Tiguan R-Line is a good one; it’s slightly smaller and less frugal, but it’s good looking, more powerful, nicer inside and a lot more fun to drive than most of its rivals.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 18 Oct 2013 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



Deep Dive

Up Close And Personal With Volkswagen’s “Top Priority”

Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept

Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this month, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America Jonathan Browning told us that a midsize CUV is the company’s “top priority” in the US.

But let’s be clear: The CrossBlue is not a replacement for the Comments


First Drives

The 911 Of Hot Hatches Takes The Compact Game To New Levels

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI - front three-quarter view, in motion

North American car buyers get a bit of a slap in the face when it comes to delivery schedules for new the GTI models. We’ll just repeat the old chestnut: It’s worth the wait… even though it still stinks. This time around, Western Europe is taking deliveries of the new Golf as we speak, and GTI deliveries start between May and July. North America doesn’t get the Mk7 Golf or GTI until about July of 2014.

So we approached our first drive of the new GTI with this chip on our shoulder: “You’re making us wait? Well, then at least give us the exact car we’ll be able to buy. No compromises, mein freund.” And so it was that we extracted nearly all of our drive impressions from behind the wheel of what, for the United States, will technically be a model year 2015 two-door Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance with the standard six-speed manual.

This time around, Comments


New Car Reviews

Less Flower, More Power

Pardon our political incorrectness for a moment, but the Volkswagen New Beetle was, undeniably, a “chick car.” There was almost nothing that the New Beetle offered to enthusiasts (of either gender), and by the end of its run, VW had even stripped all of the exciting engines from the car’s lineup. Looking to resurrect some of the excitement behind the Beetle, the third generation of the iconic car ditched the cuteness when the coupe debuted for 2012, and now the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible aims to show how much fun drivers can have without a top.

Celebrating almost six and a half decades of the Beetle convertible, first drive of the 2013 Beetle Convertible was in the fuel-miser TDI variation, our two-week romp in the 2013 Beetle Convertible ’60s Edition came just as peak convertible weather was kicking off down in Florida.

The retro styling craze caught like a wildfire in the early 2000s, but quickly fizzled out as automakers realized that redesigning these cars for a subsequent second generation became a challenge in itself. This is likely the very reason why the New Beetle remained relatively the same for almost its entire 12-year run, but in creating the third-generation Beetle, Volkswagen tried to distance itself from adjectives like “cute” and “bubbly” by using more mainstream-friendly cues, which carry over nicely to the convertible form.




World’s Most Efficient Car Impresses, Not Without Compromises

2014 Volkswagen XL1

Among our many duties at the recent Volkswagen XL1 hyper-efficient plug-in diesel hybrid. There is so much that is interesting about a car like this reaching production from a major automaker that it’s tough to know where to begin.

First off, you should know that – at least for this generation – there is absolutely no chance in Albuquerque that this “1-liter vehicle” (i.e. a vehicle that can burn just one liter of fuel to travel 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles) will ever make it into the hands of North American customers. We, too, were having trouble imagining an XL1 in typical American traffic, surrounded by comparatively massive pickups and SUVs. The driving experience had us recalling a couple of weeks in 1999 when we drove the then-revolutionary Honda Insight hybrid on US roads. We keenly remember the feeling of being very small and vulnerable, even as we felt proudly green in our 61-mpg Tochigi pod. Thing is, the Volkswagen is smaller still, and nearly as light despite its more complex drivetrain and safety features.

In fact, the VW XL1 drive experience itself is very much like what we experienced in the Comments


First Drives

The Golf VI’s Last Hurrah Is Pure Niche

This was in the heart of the ultra-chic Côte d’Azur during winter. The car to be tested was the not-for-North America 2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Prevailing weather conditions here this time of year are bizarrely pleasant, as though a dome of Swarovski crystal has been placed over the entire region to protect it from any real winter spoiling things. And the zippy Golf R Cabriolet is a sports car designed precisely for this area’s preciously narrow winding streets, as well as for the lofty budgets of its property owners.

So then why was it snowing like we were in northern Michigan? The weather front hit from the north like a swift kick to the Jordaches. The roof was open on this Candy White Golf R Cabrio and I, as is my wont, was determined through thick or thin to keep it retracted. It had been raining and sometimes sleeting like the End of Days, but I kept the lid cracked because the 261-horsepower cabrio – the most powerful convertible ever built by Comments


New Car Reviews

More Fun Than A Prius, Less Sensible Than A TDI

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid - front three-quarter view

Let’s have some fun, and do some math. We’re talking pretty rudimentary stuff, multiplication and division, to figure out if the upcoming fit-for-the-masses SE with VW’s long-serving 2.5-liter engine.

To keep the equations clean and simple (hey, we’re writers), we’ll calculate based on the most flattering EPA miles per gallon stat from highway driving for all cars, assume a healthy 20,000 miles driven per year, and factor in today’s average cost for the respective fuels these three require: diesel (TDI), regular (SE) and premium (Hybrid). We’ll also start with the base prices for all models.

With all of that info loaded into our mental hoppers, how much time does it take to make the 45-mpg fuel economy of the Jetta Hybrid offset its premium price? To refresh, the $24,995 Hybrid is $2,005 more than the TDI and a heady $6,000 more than the SE. With highway economy ratings of 43 mpg for the TDI and 48 for the Hybrid, even considering that diesel fuel is more expensive, it’d take you about seven years of Hybrid driving before you’ve paid off the technology premium. The regular-gas sipping SE is a still more compelling argument for the frugal, as you’ll need to drive your hybrid for roughly 13 years to make up the sticker difference at today’s fuel prices. Bring the miles driven down to a closer-to-average 12k per year, and the payback takes even longer.



2013 Volkswagen Passat TDi - front three-quarter view

Can you name a fun-to-drive sedan with a manual transmission that can transport five adults and their luggage comfortably while sipping fuel at the rate of 50 mpg? The answer is the Volkswagen Passat TDI – a German antonym for “range anxiety.”

The past forty years have seen the Volkswagen Passat evolve from a three-door hatchback with a 1.5-liter engine (sold as the Dasher in the States) to a four-door near-luxury sedan boasting a 4.0-liter W8 a decade ago. I’m making the case that today’s reasonably priced diesel-burning 2.0-liter TDI is the best, and most sensible, Passat ever built.

  • The turbocharged, direct-injected, 2.0-liter inline-four is a little stump puller. While only rated at 140 horsepower, it delivers 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. Launching from a standstill – even with a full load – was uneventful and it pulled confidently under all driving conditions (even thought the acceleration numbers are far from impressive).
  • According to the EPA, the Passat TDI earns 31 mpg city and 43 mpg highway – but not on my watch. My city average was more like 35 mpg and 50 mpg wasn’t difficult to achieve on the highway at 70 mph. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, its cruising range is just short of the moon.
  • Curiosity got the better of me one night, so I decided to run a 100-mile highway loop between Camarillo and Goleta on Southern California’s coastal US 101. Following a few suggestions, I pumped the tires up from the recommended 32 psi to 42 psi (51 psi is the maximum on the sidewall of the all-season Continental ContiProContact tires), shut off the air conditioning and set cruise control at 60 mph on the highway. Driving at this “hypermiling” speed was painful, but it delivered an impressive 56.9 mpg according to the Passat’s computer – that’s a burn rate of just over one gallon per hour!
  • The Passat’s cabin is huge. Almost the trunk) during a long drive to a weekend tournament. Nobody complained about room, and the air vents in the second row kept the atmosphere fresh.
  • The cabin appointments on the 6MT model, Volkswagen’s SE trim, aren’t very luxurious. An upgrade to a sunroof, navigation, leather upholstery or even an iPod interface requires acceptance of the dual-clutch DSG automatic, which brings with it lower fuel economy and a less engaging driving experience. That’s very frustrating.
  • On the odd side of things, the clutch pedal transmitted an awful lot of engine vibration to the driver’s left foot and I noticed an unnerving sound of fuel sloshing around inside the tank each time the sedan came to a stop (keep the radio on and passengers won’t notice).
  • Even thought the diesel is the perhaps the wisest choice in the Passat family, Volkswagen doesn’t seem to want offer consumers any incentives to take one home. Unattractive lease and financing rates on the TDI often make its more expensive gasoline counterparts (or worse, its competitors) more attractive in the showroom. America’s wildly fluctuating (but generally costlier) diesel fuel prices don’t help, either.



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