Anyone who knows me, knows I'ma massive Burt Reynolds fan. I won't hear a bad word said against him. But, even I'll admit he's had possibly the worst rhytidectomy — that's a facelift to you and me — ever. Whoever was responsible for doing that to the Bandit a good 10 years ago must have done it with his eyes closed and with nothing more than a rusty pair of pliers.
But these days, people visit surgeons on their lunch breaks and come back to work with a brand new hairline, a new set of teeth or a new nose. It's not a big deal any more and I blame the car industry for this. When sales of their models begin to dwindle, they set about giving them a mid-life refresh. It seems we've taken a leaf out of the carmakers' book when it comes to preserving or enhancing our looks. The difference is, when cars get a revamp they usually come out looking much better than before. The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is a testament to that.
But, when we do it, we just look plain and simply, scary. See Burt for details...
under the scalpel...
Launched in 2008, the Tiguan was duefor a little sprucing up. Those familiar looks are still present, but they've now been sharpened up.
Sure, it's the same car that shares the same platform as the Jetta and it's available in three trims — Sport & Style, Trend & Fun and Track & Style.
The most obvious change is the front which now reflects the VW design DNA. It looks more like its bigger brother, the Touareg. Its headlights gain LEDs that flow into the upgraded chrome two-bar grille while the bumper looks a little smaller. Chrome trim wraps around the window mouldings while the taillights look thinner. It boasts a powerful profile and a window line that rises towards the back while the rear end has a departure angle of 25 degrees. It measures 4,426mm long, 1,809mm wide and 1,868mm high but, despite riding on standard 17in alloys (you can spec them up to 19in if you like) the exterior changes are hardly revolutionary. But, they're enough to warrant the Tiguan a second glance.
The interior of the previous model was roomy and comfortable and that is still the case. It's largely a carry over but there are some noticeable differences such as the new soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels. The Vienna leather seats, with height and lumbar adjust, are comfortable and supportive for long trips while the infotainment system, boastinga touch screen, sat-nav and a CD and DVD player, is very intuitive.
However, the footwell illumination is unnecessary and I couldn't figure out how to turn it off. As a result, I kept thinking one of the doors wasn't shut. I do like the panoramic roof, which bathes the neat cabin with plenty of natural light. It's as practical as ever too. Drop the rear seats and the boot room is a commendable1,510 litres. Leave them up and 470 litres is still plenty for your weekly trek to the grocery store.
There are a number of innovative on-board systems such as the adaptive chassis control, dynamic light assist, fatigue detection, park assist and an electronic differential lock. It also boasts Bluetooth hands-free phone pairing, a 300-watt Dynaudio sound system, USB audio inputs and a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel.
Safety is of paramount importance, especially on our action-packed roads, so it's good to know the refreshed Tiguan is ready for almost anything.
Best of all is that new fatigue detection system. This clever feature is able totell when you're feeling tired from your inputs to the steering wheel and throttle. If it monitors any strange behaviour, it sends a warning to the driver in the form of acoustic signals and visual messages, telling him he ought to take break.Just like your alarm clock, it'll buzz every 15 minutes until you finally stop for that much needed coffee. Another newsystem, the lane assist, can tell when you're drifting out of your lane. It'll automatically keep you on the straightand narrow by gently steering you back into your lane.
The improved park assist utilises nofewer than 12 ultrasonic sensors to detecta space large enough to fit into. All you have to do is select reverse, control the accelerator and brake and watch as the steering wheel spins into action.
Under the Tiguan's bonnet lies a direct injection turbo 2.0-litre four-pot that is mated to a six-speed automatic driving all four wheels. It's a spirited engine that produces 200bhp from 5,100 to 6,000rpm and 280Nm of torque from 1,700 to 5,000rpm. It has enough zip about it to propel you from 0-100kph in 8.5 seconds and peters out at a very respectable 207kph. The steering feels tighter and gives you better feedback while the gear changes are much improved too, in fact you can hardly feel the cogs swapping. It isn't a DSG but it feels like one. The brakes also feel stronger and they bring the 2,220kg CUV to a safe stop while the MacPherson strut suspension offersa dynamic and sporty ride. But to say it handles like a Golf GTI would be a blatant lie. The Tiguan still suffers from some body roll and it's a heavy car. However, you can certainly tell that they are siblings.
It looks more attractive, it's more comfortable and it feels much better to drive. VW has done a fine job in refreshing the Tiguan and I have no doubts it will be a solid seller.
But please, banish any ideas of going under the knife. If you're really keen ona facelift, just buy a car that's had one.
Specs & ratings
Model VW Tiguan
Engine 2.0-litre Four cylinder
Transmission Six-speed auto, AWD
Max power 200bhp @ 5,100rpm
Max torque 280Nm @ 1,700rpm
Top speed 207kph