Crushed by a German Faux-SUV

SV on an SUV.

vw-tiguan-facelift-new-photos-and-details_19

I seem to have had a few opportunities recently to drive different cars for shortish periods, enabling some rare insight into them as ownership opportunities. Previously I commented on the pleasant surprise that was a lowly latest gen Fiesta; now it’s the turn of a 2WD VW Tiguan that I hired whilst on holiday in France.

This is a crushingly competent family car.  I have long had a prejudice against faux SUVs (after all, the Tig is just a Mk5 Golf on stilts, right?), and really don’t want to own anything as mainstream as a modern VW (a rather stupid and petty prejudice this one, I know, up there with cutting off my nose to spite my face), but this car was depressingly brilliant at the family car brief.

It rode well (in a firm way of course), the build was tighter than a drum, it was roomy for 4 (not 5, thanks to hump in rear footwell for the – in this case – non-existent rear prop shaft) with a very well shaped and large-ish boot (still not as big as the Xsara Picasso, which is my family’s current benchmark – he writes, blushing a little inside). The front seats were very comfortable indeed thanks to very high backs and excellent lumbar support. The 2 litre diesel was smooth, torquey, quiet (except when thrashed) and very frugal. Oh, and the sat-nav was also genius.

My wife wants one. Damn you Avis (hilariously – although not at the time – disorganised and ignorant at Gare du Nord) for allocating us one, and VW for creating such a horribly excellent car. I now have little chance of selling-in the quirky delights of a C4 Cactus, which will be cheaper, but will surely never tick so many of the “sensible” boxes, like being quiet and having granite-like build quality.

My biggest take away from the experience is that every manufacturer that is not German really does not have a chance any more. I wanted to hate the Tiguan. I want there to be a broad spectrum of marques that bring colour and diversity to the motoring landscape. My heart winced every time I saw some wonderful heritage French car whilst on vacation last week.

But even I was finding it hard to find a reason as to why I would take the Cactus over the Tiguan, now that I had “used” it for a week. Non-German marques have got to equal the depth of capability that the Germans seem to have AND provide something “extra”. That’s a big ask.

I see that FIAT, PSA, Renault, Ford, GM Europe, JLR and other European marques are miles away from doing this. PSA and Renault just seem to be retreating in ever decreasing circles (if that makes any sense). Even the “mighty” Japanese seem to me to be falling back. I can see a future in 10 years time when a number of marques on that earlier list just aren’t with us any longer. Crushed by the likes of the VW Tiguan.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

2 thoughts on “Crushed by a German Faux-SUV”

  1. A well reasoned argument, SV. Personally, I like having a few things that I absolutely hate about my car. It keeps me from getting complacent and ensures that I don’t end up getting too attached. Competence can be over-rated, but on the flip side, so can charm. I suppose you could always compromise and plump for a Skoda Yeti – thoughtful of VW to provide such a wide choice…

  2. SV. Your argument is hard to counter. Playing Agony Uncle, it might be that you are confessing this here in the hope that we might shake you out of your infatuation. Like Eoin, I like a few eccentricities (glaring faults?) in a vehicle, so I could suggest that, if it’s a spritely faux SUV you’re after, you find a decent Matra Rancho and squeeze in a Douvrin V6. But in fact your words have got me concerned since I’ve been considering the possibility of my first ever personal (rather than company) new car purchase later this year, in the form of a Citroen Cactus. This has made me view it through my notoriously disinterested partner’s eyes, and I am beginning to wonder if I can sell it to her.

    I had a similar confrontation with crushing VAG competence about 15 years ago, when a Summer holiday was interrupted on the first day, half an hour South of Caen ferry terminal, when my SM stopped at the side of the road. The Citroen’s (usually unjustified) reputation as a mechanical minefield can turn burly, confident mechanics into quivering jellies, so two hours later the car was being wheeled into a corner of a garage for repatriation by the RAC and we were on our way to get a hire car. The sight of a metallic green VW Vento sent me into a depression that would be hard to explain to a non-enthusiast. That it was diesel, doubled the downer.

    But the fact is that it was solid, comfortable, fast enough, incredibly economical and ludicrously capacious – with the back seat folded, unless you wanted to fit in something tall, it was far more practical than its Golf sibling. Until the Bora, booted small VWs always looked pretty dreadful but, after 3,000 km, I handed back the keys to the green lump, if not with regret, with huge and unexpected respect.

    Incidentally, I’d feel bad if I didn’t point out that I have enjoyed trouble-free holidays in the Citroen before and since and, in fact, the problem was a very mundane, hard to diagnose but easy to fix, fault at the base of the distributor. That could even have happened to a VW.

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