Published on January 14th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


Volkswagen Tiguan: A Bad Reputation Ruins a Great Product

Launched in April 2017, the Volkswagen Tiguan was a real hard hitter. It came in a very reasonable asking price (the Comfortline dropped some equipment for a sub RM150K asking price) and had some of the best driving characteristics of any SUV in its class.

It was such a great product, that for the first time since the B7 Passat, there were Malaysians waiting in line for a locally-assembled Volkswagen. Well it felt that way, for sure. There are still a few eager buyers out there, but with a new Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V now in play, the Tiguan’s time in the spotlight is over.

So let’s start with the things that really characterise the Tiguan. The chassis and powertrain are a great place to start. Here we find a 1.4-litre single turbo TSI engine mated to a 6-speed wet clutch DSG.

In terms of performance, the Tiguan doesn’t quite keep up with the 1.5-litre Turbo CR-V and 2.5-litre CX-5, but it’s no slouch. In fact, the car drives really well for its size – it’s just a little sterile. A dose of Jinba-Ittai is what’s missing here. What Mazda was able to bring out of their SUV raises the bar considerably, but with less than half a second separating the 0-100km/h acceleration times, there’s nothing really bad to say about the car.

The build quality is a strong point of the new Tiguan. The Volkswagens of the early 2010s were solidly put together, but there was always a ‘Spartan’ feel to things. These new Volkswagens look immensely more premium, without losing that sense of ‘chunkiness’. There are no flimsy plastics – everything is bolted down firmly or attached with thick, high quality joints. The punch proof interior is also incredibly consistent in terms of design language and material choice. The cherry on top is how well integrated the digital displays are. Both the infotainment unit and instrument cluster were top notch, almost Audi-like, which is incredible considering how little the Tiguan costs in comparison.

Finally, there’s the exterior design. Overall, it’s a very handsome, modern looking car. Compared to its two new rivals, the Tiguan is smaller in terms of length, width, and height. It’s also significantly lighter (by about 99-140kg). So you won’t be faulted in thinking it’s the smaller SUV. But there’s some German engineering miracles being pulled here as the wheelbase is still respectable and it has got a larger boot AND fuel tank.

So what’s holding the Tiguan back? Why are we seeing more new CR-V and CX-5 units on the road despite Volkswagen’s head start?

The sad truth is the brand’s reputation is holding the product back immensely. We’re sure those who have test driven the car have walked away as impressed as we were. But bad reputations are difficult to erase, especially when they’re not undeserved. Our most common reader comment seems to be about the reliability of new Volkswagens, and honestly, there’s still no accurate way to gauge how they’re doing in terms of after-sales.

We only take these cars out a week or so at a time. So, if you’re an owner of the new Tiguan (or Jetta/Passat), do the brand a favour and let the public know how they’re doing.

Volkswagen Tiguan Specifications:

Engine: Inline 4, turbocharged direct injection petrol
Capacity: 1395cc
Gearbox: 6-speed DSG
Max power: 148hp @ 5000rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 1500rpm
0-100 km/h: 9.2 seconds
Price: RM168,990

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

13 Responses to Volkswagen Tiguan: A Bad Reputation Ruins a Great Product

  1. Sutheswaran says:

    Hi Subhash,

    Great article u wrote on Tiguan.
    I really feel that CR-V is an overrated buffed-up BR-V. I find nothing so special but our people tend to think the “H” badge is the best carmaker. H just up leveled their marketing and added features which Msian wanted. Thats what Perodua did which Proton didn’t. H don’t do quality cars at all. But current carbuyers feel that owning a H would make them more appealing to the public! Pathetic!

    Then there is this CX-5 which I take my hat and give a big salute. Its the best made and best looking SUV under RM200k. In and out the car is amazing!

    But Tiguan is a continental design and I respect Volkswagen for making german quality cars here in Pekan. Jetta, Passat or Tiguan, all of them give immense torque and make you feel worthy of owning one.

    About the reliability, yes, I’ve discussed with a dealer and he explained me what happened in 2013 with the damned German import Polo Sedan 1.6 which ruined the brands reputation. Germans spent almost 3 years cracking their heads to find out what went wrong, and they did.

    Thing is Malaysia is a hot country and to worsen it, we the slowest driving community in the planet, spend a hell lot of time on the traffic lights. During this moments, the hot temperature make wires to leak synthetic gear oils onto circuit boards and result in catastrophic malfunction. This doesn’t happen in Singapore (same car) because traffic light interval in SG is 30sec unlike here where its max. 3min.
    They fixed the issue but reputation got hit hard.
    Feel so sorry for those Germans.

  2. KH Lim says:

    I bought the Tiguan in 2017 . I think VW’s problem is their staff or dealers’ staff. They never explained things fully and tried to hide the issue.Example, they are supposed to give us free console software for the handphone but the salesman never tell us and said we have to pay over RM800 for it.Then we received a letter from VW thanking us for the purchase and hope we enjoyed the software ! We taruk the salesman and he said it is last minute free gift from VW.
    Recently we have a problem with the aircon and the nearest service station is booked for months! How to drive in Msian weather without aircon? Have to call the salesman to take the car to his centre (which is more than 20om away) and they couldnt fixed it for a week! Eventually they just reset it and sent back to us without doing any repairs.This will be our last VW vehicle. The after sales and service division are just horrible and it seemed and give the impression that VW doesnt care.

  3. limws says:

    Hi KH, Where you bought and which service center you were servicing? I have tested the highline Tiguan and look impressive. Do you recommend of buying? Thanks.

  4. Eddy says:

    For mine so far no issue enjoy the drive and the zoom zoom.

    Had some cracking sound ask my SA to help get the car check and now waiting for parts to arrived. Only set back is the stockist are in Singapore have to wait for a week.

    Else then that fuel is much better then vios and you can just tekan all you like.

    • Isabelle says:

      Between the CX-5 or the Tiguan, which one do you guys think is more worthy to be owned in a long period? I’m considering these two at the moment.

      • Daniel Sherman Fernandez says:

        Hi, thank your for reaching out to us and we suggest you look at the Mazda CX-5 with its stronger warranty, after sales and also resale values. Plus its a better quality vehicle.

        • JKLim says:

          I am currently driving the Tiguan 1.4 2014 model with the mileage clocking 108k. My conclusion is that the built quality is solid, handling is good and the engine is still running extremely smooth. The only small issue is the electronically controlled rear hatch with the sound of “zeck-zeck” is not reliable.

      • Jim says:

        Same, I am considering between the 2 too.

  5. EK says:

    I considering for 2018 CRV or 2018 Tiguan? Any advise….

    • Daniel Sherman Fernandez says:

      We suggest you test drive the new Forester and the new Mazda CX-5 on the same morning and then decide if the CR-V or Tiguan is worth its value.


    Tiguan in Malaysia; do we have in a AWD?

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