SV on an SUV.
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.