"And being an SUV, the added ride height gives the Tiguan a more empowering passport of ‘not needing to slow down’ across big road undulations..."

"...this car is so well insulated that my two babies quickly fell asleep without much persuasion"

As quiet as I tried to contain my reactions, my face could’ve spelled it out loud after the outer right suspension uncoiled itself as I wind my steering wheel back from the left and into another right bend. As my arms crossed from 9-3 o’clock to 3-9 o’clock; i can’t help but be amazed by the car made by this carmaker whose V and W logos are now upside down from the tight right turn that coiled up the left outer springs - how much talent they intend to hide inside this sedately designed mid sized SUV?

From the news, it may just as well be another replacement car for an existing model lineup. These kinda stuffs happen every month or so. New Sonata replacing old Sonata, new City replaces old City. Most often than not, we see a small fluctuation of price, and then added kit counts, millimetre growth in dimensions. New swanky chrome here, glitz there, lines here, shadows there and wrap up. Most often than not, that’s how it seems, very incremental changes.

The new Tiguan on the other hand, though merely a second generation, could’ve pass as an in between model of the first generation Tiguan and the big Touareg. Unlike the Passat B8 that barely grew any larger from the B7, the new Tiguan is within the realms of the Audi Q5’s size. As if a game of reversed seesaw, Volkswagen up its size but downed its weight, and to deliver a right uppercut after the left swing to the segment, they upped the quality and kit count but lowered its price at the same time. The new Tiguan is now armed to‍‍‍ the brim to take on the unique proposition Volkswagen has always been - to deliver every driving dynamics the Germans have to offer but priced within the realms of the Japanese establishments.

When I first drove it during the launch event in Malaysia, I could only tell that it’s powerful enough to sprint off its line and pliant enough to roll over a speed bump without bump stops unsettling the ride quality. And of course everything that I can see and touch. I can’t quite establish if it looks great because the first Tiguan wasn’t one that appeases or unsettles my corneas either, it just looked like a jacked up VW hatch to me. This new generation on the other hand, has very distinctive styling of straight lines after straight lines, straightforward in execution, unorthodox in its presentation, especially in an era where the proliferation of that cliche muttering of ‘flowing lines’ being used in almost every automobile press launch.


"It doesn't pound the road with an authoritative manner that pulps the tarmac into submission, but rather it felt as though it feathers over it dancing nonchalantly with its gears, suspension and engine all working in absolute harmony." ‍

words & photos ‍‍‍by BOBBY ANG‍‍‍

Then the call came “Would you like to drive it for a week?”

A week? One that spans over the weekend, why not? Truth be told, I recently had a theory brewing in my mind for quite sometime already. You see, I drive an Audi wagon, the ‘perfect’ vehicle according to car enthusiasts. Ride height of a sedan for low centre of gravity, and then the carrying capacity of SUVs - at least in theory. But as technology progresses, and one SUV by one SUV proved to us that they no longer need to rely on low centre of gravity to deliver great handling, it literally reshuffles the core deliverables of this form of three box low slung vehicle, essential requirements for cars to have ride qualities that aren’t rolly-polly. After 117 years since Daimler made the Mercedes 35, which laid forth the foundation for which cars are designed in the next century, has SUVs finally come of age after BMW and Porsche both showed the industry handling can be engineered into a car with a 25cm road clearance? To top that off, my Audi wagon now seems to be too compact to carry a family of five along with luggages and the ensuing pram, car seat, walker, bouncing net etc. A week with the new Tiguan means I now have the perfect vehicle for a short family getaway.

With a 7 month old baby and a 6 year old child, there’re few adventurous places one can plan for. And heading out of KL means the next readily available city is Penang. And the hotel of choice with a beautiful connecting beach and wonderful facilities for the kids is non other than Hard Rock Hotel Penang at ‍‍‍Batu Feringgi Beach.

The first thing I noticed is how much easier my game of Tetris is with the luggages of everyone. The square boot means it’s easy to visually arrange everything in my mind as my hand-eye coordination works alongside, logically placing everything in without much hassle. Much less hassle than my supposedly designed-for-Ikea wagon.

The easily reachable Isofix mounts also means my child seat can be mounted in the middle - the safest place in a car while still leaving accommodation for two passengers at the back. Retrieving my wallet, SmarTag, mobile phone, and my vaporiser, I find the readily available cubby spaces extremely handy and logic, this goes here, that goes there, everything’s nicely sorted ready for the trip. A quick stop at Shell, the big door pockets proved splendid to leave a bottle of water in every door panel too. And I haven’t even make use of those ingeniously designed cupholder mechanisms - best in the industry in my opinion - something that is supposedly simple, and one where its philosophy seems to be similar to that of Japanese Origami yet only the Germans seems to always be on the quest to engineer the best in the game of cupholder one-uppance.

On the get go, the first thing I can notice in this Tiguan is how quiet it rides. For a car that starts from the price of circa RM150k, the Tiguan rides like a RM350k premium car. Cosseting road manners, very little wind noise or road roar, this car is so well insulated that my two babies quickly fell asleep without much persuasion. The tall gearing from the 6-speed‍‍‍ DSG also means cruising speeds are afforded with very low engine rpm, resulting in even lesser noise as well. The low ambient noise in and around the car then allows me to play my Spotify music at low volume too. Guess this is the same as a restaurant with good sound absorbing curtains, carpets and decorations gives everyone a relaxing soft spoken conversation as opposed to one where it echoes while every patron seems to be shouting just to have a dialogue resulting in even more shouting.

After our quick lunch in Ipoh, we have to negotiate through a few traffic lights before we can enter the North South Highway again to continue our journey. With the little one now wide awake and kicking, we had to make her milk while on the go. This is where those clever cupholders come into use, press a button and out they come gliding and transforming a large cubby space to cupholders within a second. The smoothness of the 6 speed DSG is a commendable update as well, it’s no longer impossible to concoct a bottle of milk juggling powder and hot water while crawling in slow traffic anymore. And you can imagine the immense pressure a husband who’s behind the wheel at slow traffic inching and stopping while the wife is trying to get exact measurements for the little princess.

The Trip

After Ipoh is where the driving gets interesting, gradual uphill climbs, long sweeping downhill bends and a good mixture of scenery and tunnel passes. This is also where the Tiguan truly betrays its own subdued and understated styling, for underneath those reserved and classy sheetmetal lies a rebel of a chassis. This boy loves to be thrown into corners it seems, with suspension tuning that is so well sorted for enthusiastic driving, the Tiguan leans in slightly and then sprung into action one turn after the other as if a dancer loading up their leg’s muscle alternatively to jolt themselves into the next graceful move.

It doesn’t pound the road with an authoritative manner that pulps the tarmac into submission, but rather it felt as though it feathers over it dancing itself off nonchalantly with the gears, engine rpm, tyres and the car’s suspension tuning all working in harmony to deliver a playful yet reassuring drive. For lack of a better comparison, a Mercedes A250 AMG makes every passenger in the car tense up before you even exit your neighbourhood roads. The Tiguan on the other hand, let’s you have fun at winding roads in triple digit speeds without your passengers realising if they weren’t looking straight ahead to notice how fast the horizon gets near. The exact kind of scenario where daddy gets naughty without being caught by mommy.

Yes, it didn’t take too long while I’m having fun behind the wheel to be high beamed to go back into the middle lane before we get to catch up with the car we want to overtake as a Passat B7 behind ‘chased’ us off the overtaking lane. No doubts about it, the 1.4 TSI engine is good, but it’s no match for the 1.8 TSI - not even near. This makes me sort of wonder what if … Yes, on paper they don’t differ too much, but it’s more than that on the open roads. I can’t deny that Volkswagen Malaysia made the right decision to bring in the Tiguan with the 1.4 TSI to be price competitive, as this smaller mill is perfectly adequate for anything below that of 150km/h. I say adequate, because beyond that, this engine wasn’t tuned to deliver high top speeds in the shortest of time, it needs its revs to pull beyond that, and those revs don’t come very fast after that 150km/h mark, unlike the Passat.

The Tiguan might not be as fast as the 1.8 TSI Passat, but don’t forget this is an SUV. There’s more metal, more carpet, more of every raw material needed to build a car. And being an SUV, the added ride height gives the Tiguan a more empowering passport of ‘not needing to slow down’ across big road undulations as the taller ride height means it can take way more pounding considering the roads we have in Malaysia, and of course the kind of roads that lead to Hard Rock Hotel Penang at Batu Feringgi.

As I turned into the lobby, I noticed the friendly baggage handler glanced at the front of our car, seemingly doing a double take on the car’s brand. Guess the new design language of Volkswagens pushed the car up a couple of notch when it comes to brand perception. The car does look premium with its reserved styling and angular lines, on first glance it might seem old fashion, but as one take a closer look, all the little details, such as how the grille perfectly integrates into the headlamps, those unique design touches littered all over the car are much like that of this hotel, reserved on the outside, but a second take reveals the little details that indicates something exciting inside. And once you stepped into the Tiguan, you’re then presented with an interior that is not just well built, but well laid out and comfortable too. You can go full bore Hollywood glitzy with the Highline, or you can remain sensible and reserved with the Comfortline.

It’s rather amazing the amount of things this car can carry as it doesn’t seem too big from the outside. But I was pleasantly surprised when my need to fit 3 days of luggages for 3 adults, a 6 year old kid, and the little 7 month old baby was promptly answered with a very well shaped boot dimension and logical space utilisation of its interior. Let’s just say you won’t be left wanting for more in-car real estate even if you come from a BMW X5, which is two classes higher up the luxury food chain.

Checking into our room, we’re greeted with an immersive view of the beautiful sea along the horizon. The calmness of the pale blue sky and pastel sandy beaches lay in full contrast to the laughter and energetic children having fun at the hotel’s colourful water park slides. Who wouldn’t love such a scene? Guess that’s how a road trip outing with the family is like, and it becomes all the more meaningful when you consider the fact that they grow up so fast, the yearn to travel more, see more, feel, touch and taste more becomes all the more stronger. As I began wondering where to go next, I realise all this wouldn’t have been possible without a comfortable, safe, spacious and all around great vehicle. Mobility is what allows us to get out of our usual 30km radius of life. Mobility is what expands our horizon, create possibilities, mobility is the enabler of life itself. And to imagine how is it like if I were to be running a company where more than 10 million people rely on each and every year, to travel, to live their lives, and to keep going, is really something that humbled myself and what I’m doing with my life.

As we pack for home after two days in Hard Rock Hotel Penang, the journey home with this incredibly comfortable, frugal and practical vehicle  must come to an end. As I caught up with traffic in Kerinchi, I realised something, what was supposed to be a frustrating scene of rows of cars inching slowly became and opportunity for me to rest and drive slow - yes, the jam became something I appreciate - guess that sums up our live - it’s all about how we ourselves perceive it to be.

"The new Tiguan is now armed to the brim to take on the unique proposition Volkswagen has always been - to deliver every driving dynamics the Germans have to offer but priced within the realms of the Japanese establishments."