I know it looks dorky, with its narrow yet tall body. But it’s far better suited for an Alpine vacation than the early Nissan Qashqai.
Built between 2007 and 2016, the Tiguan I had a long life. It’s based on the same platform as the Golf 5 and 6, featuring similar engines to the Passat.
The Tiguan generally has excellent build quality, so interior rattles are rare. However, the panoramic sunroof can leak due to clogging of the drainage system. If you’re looking at a 2010 or later model with rust, it means it’s been crashed and improperly repaired, so it’s best to walk away.
There’s three types of suspension: normal, sport and adaptive. Likewise, three body styles exist: off-road (has an oddly raised nose), normal and R-Line. The latter is our favorite, as, after the 2011 facelift, the Tiguan’s headlights gained LEDs and looked better for it.
Right, let’s move on to the important stuff, which is the oily bits. There are two kinds of engines, TSI and TDI. All the TDI diesel units are more reliable because they have timing belts rather than chains. Of course, they are affected by the Dieselgate scandal, so it’s up to you to decide if you have a conscience. The 2.0 TDI mill is available with anywhere from 110 to 184 HP. The higher output versions have stronger internal components, so go for those.
TSI engines generally come in 1.4 and 2.0 variety, though some markets have a 1.8-liter too. As in the case of the used Golf, it’s best to avoid the twin-charger 160 horsepower version of the 1.4 turbos. The base unit can also feel underpowered, while the 2.0 TSI has a weak timing chain in models made before 2013. So look for later Tiguan models or those who have had timing chain replacements (usually after 100,000km).
The manual is always preferred in the case of a second-hand car. The 6-speed automatic in the early Tiguan was also reliable, but you’re never going to find one of those. The DSG can develop electronic problems, so go for a test drive and look for gear grabbing or noises in first or second gear shifts (you have to drive slowly with the windows down for that).