Who said mid-sized SUVs are all about looking adventurous, rather than actually going adventuring?
Volkswagen has given the Tiguan Allspace a marginally more rugged makeover, and created the Adventure in the process. This is the fourth Adventure model from Volkswagen Australia, and the second Tiguan to wear the badge.
It’s designed to “evoke the adventurous spirit of singles, couples, and family SUV buyers”, and features a range of specification changes that will appeal to a very particular corner of the motoring world.
Gone is the third row of seats to free up a monster boot, and the flashy 20-inch wheels adorning most Tiguans have been replaced by relatively titchy 17-inch units that leave space for snow chains in the arches.
The battery and 180A alternator are aimed at owners who want to fit camping accessories, and the underbody is better protected against rock strikes.
Sure, it’s not going to give a Toyota LandCruiser a run for its money, but Volkswagen says it will suit soft-roaders who want a more rugged family SUV that doesn’t drive like a truck.
Has Volkswagen found the goldilocks zone with the Adventure?
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace Adventure is priced from $54,990 drive-away until the end of 2022, although it was announced at $51,990 before on-roads.
That makes it $5000 cheaper than the 162TSI Elegance based on list price, and $9000 cheaper than the 162TSI R-Line, both of with which the Adventure shares its engine.
It’s $5000 more expensive than the 132TSI Life based on the drive-away deals Volkswagen is currently running. Both cars shares similar interiors and equipment lists, although the Adventure features a more powerful engine and some choice upgrades.
The Tiguan Allspace Adventure shares most of its interior with the base Life, albeit with a few tweaks.
It’s solid and spacious behind the wheel, but won’t set your heart racing with its colourful trim pieces or design flair. The biggest change has come in the boot, which is the largest on offer in a current Volkswagen model with the second row folded – more to come on that.
The generously padded, cloth-trimmed seats are set nice and high for a commanding view of the road, and the inclusion of heating will no doubt make keen skiers (or country folks used to crisp mornings) feel more at home. They heat up fast, too.
There’s plenty of adjustment in both the seats and wheel, so drivers of all shapes will be able to get comfortable.
Tall windows that extend well into where the third row would usually sit help make what’s otherwise a grey, dark interior feel a bit lighter, and make the Tiguan Allspace easier to place in the city.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen in the dashboard looks a bit small alongside what’s on offer elsewhere in the class, although Volkswagen argues the small screen allowed it to have proper volume and tuning dials on the dash, and those controls are more useful than touch controls on rough roads.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels high-quality, and it has proper buttons rather than the capacitive gloss black pads of the R-Line variant. All the major parts you touch feel soft and expensive, although there are some hard plastics strewn throughout in the cabin.
The infotainment system is good; the digital instrument binnacle that’s standard on the Allspace is excellent. They have all the information you need, are capable of displaying maps on the move, and can be customised to within an inch of their lives.
Volkswagen’s software is clean and simple to navigate, and the graphics are modern enough, but it feels serviceable rather than flashy or standout.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both premium inclusions, and the pair of USB-C ports work with a wireless charger to make sure any devices are fully juiced.
Although it’s a bit dull, there’s no escaping how practical and sensible the Tiguan feels up front.
From the proper climate controls (yes, even though they’re touch-based) to the big storage space on the transmission tunnel, the massive overhead console, and the hidden drawers beneath the front seats, it feels as if all the parents at Volkswagen got together and really thought hard about all the things they’d like to see in a car, and then put them in.
The rear seats are spacious in the Allspace, and the sliding bench allows you to prioritise boot space or legroom.
You’ll get adults behind adults, and the wide-opening doors make fitting children into rear-facing seats simpler than in the five-seat model.
There are air vents, temperature controls, and USB-C charge points back there, along with a 12V slot for accessories. The fold-down central armrest features cupholders, and is a handy way to keep the kids separated on long road trips.
With no need to access the third row and a massive boot, the sliding bench is less useful here than in the seven-seat car, but it does contribute to the car’s overall flexibility.
As for the boot? The deletion of the third row has boosted boot space with the second row of seats in place from 700 litres to 760L, and the 1920L on offer with the second row folded and the variable boot floor in its lowest spot is more than you get in a Touareg.
You can still stow the luggage cover beneath the boot floor, and handy touches such as the LED torches in the side of the load bay are smart, almost Skoda-ish inclusions.
Beware of the uncovered sections on each side of the boot floor behind the wheel arches; they’ll eat up loose items and force you to go hunting in the dark.
Under the bonnet of this special edition Tiguan Allspace is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 162kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with drive sent to a 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
Claimed fuel economy is 8.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle; we saw 7.8 litres per 100km on a highway run with some spirited gravel driving and a brief stint in Sydney traffic thrown in. The Allspace drinks 95 RON premium unleaded, and has a 60-litre fuel tank.
Braked towing capacity is 2500kg with a 200kg downball load, as is the case in the wider Allspace range.
On paper, the Tiguan Allspace is a bit of an oxymoron.
It’s a five-seat version of a seven-seat car, and couples a firmer sports suspension with smaller wheels designed to deliver a comfortable ride. Most mid-sized SUVs never leave the blacktop, but the Adventure features extra underbody protection relative to the regular Tiguan.
In reality those contradictions add up to create a comfortable, capable family SUV that does what it says on the tin.
On the blacktop it’s like a regular 162TSI, but without the ride sharpness that comes with the big wheels included in the R-Line package fitted to most high-end Tiguan models.
The engine is a peach, with bags of low-down torque and a smooth, refined character when you put your foot down. There’s none of the awkwardness or hesitation present in less powerful engines with dual-clutch transmissions at low speed, and it shuffles through Sydney’s gridlock without any fuss.
The standard variable-ratio steering is effortlessly light at parking speeds, making what’s quite a big car easy to pilot in tight spaces, while the standard range of driver assists makes it easier to know what’s happening in your blind-spot.
It’s a shame Volkswagen has been forced to pull blind-spot monitoring from MY23 Allspace models, but it’s a win that it’s still standard on Adventure models.
At highway speeds the Allspace Adventure is quiet and refined, with less road roar than you get on models with bigger wheels and lower-profile tyres on Australian B-roads. The ride isn’t magic carpet smooth, but sharp hits are rounded off nicely and, as you’d expect of a car fitted with a sports suspension, body control is excellent.
It deals with big crests and dips in one swift movement, and when you tip the car into a corner it doesn’t want to fall over. There’s the level of push at the front end you’d expect of a family SUV, but the Allspace can be hustled along at a decent rate of knots, backed by the smooth, torquey engine.
Volkswagen also made a point of pitting the Adventure up against some poorly-surfaced tarmac and gravel roads, where it really impressed.
None of what we did was what you’d call off-roading, but between potholes, washboard sections, ruts, and seemingly random sections of railway-style stones, it was the sort of road that’d make an R-Line and its pretty wheels nervous.
The Adventure felt solid on crested gravel roads, and the way it absorbs impacts at higher speeds means you don’t need to tiptoe when the going gets a bit rough. You also don’t get deflected off line by mid-corner bumps.
Traction from the 4Motion all-wheel drive system is solid, although it’s still an on-demand setup that defaults to front-biased when you’re cruising to save fuel.
In our time on slippery surfaces it didn’t feel like the Tiguan was chasing its tail, only sending power to the rear reactively, although we didn’t subject the car to a log test like the vehicles in our mid-sized SUV off-road Mega Test.
We also didn’t really test out the strength of the expanded plastic underbody protection, which now covers the sump.
If you’re going anywhere that’s likely to be really pushing the 186mm ground clearance to the point where underbody protection is an absolute necessity, however, we’d suggest looking at a more serious off-roader anyway.
Tiguan Allspace Adventure highlights:
- 17-inch Dublin alloy wheels
- Space saver spare wheel
- Underbody guard
- Sports suspension
- Progressive steering
- Adventure badge
- Automatic LED headlights
- LED tail lights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Electric folding, heated side mirrors
- Increased battery capacity
- 180 AMP alternator
- 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Voice and gesture control
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charger
- Three-zone climate control
- Heated front seats
Metallic paint costs an extra $900.
Adventure buyers get to choose one of the below accessories packages free of charge, too:
- Snow chains, and all-weather front and rear floor mats
- Rear sunblind set, and all-weather front and rear floor mats
- Boot liner, loading protection plate, and all-weather front and rear floor mats
The Tiguan Allspace wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on testing carried out in 2016.
The Tiguan scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 80 per cent for child occupant protection, 68 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 68 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB with pedestrian detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane assist
- Adaptive lane guidance
- Emergency assist
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Rear-view camera
- Driver fatigue detection
The Allspace is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Volkswagen is offering the Tiguan Allspace with a choice of three- or five-year servicing Care Plans.
The three-year plan costs $1650, while a five-year plan costs $2950. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
The Allspace Adventure looks like a bit of a niche car on paper, but it’s a charming thing in the real world.
It’s not quite as flashy as most of the Tiguans getting around Australia’s capital cities on the outside, and its interior feels a bit demure, but it packs a punch where it matters.
The combination of a top-end engine and sensible smaller wheels makes the Tiguan a more capable soft-roader than we’ve seen from Volkswagen in Australia recently.
It won’t get you across the Simpson Desert, but it will comfortably go places that would make a Tiguan R-Line nervous in comfort, and its simpler interior is more at home in the great outdoors.
And if you’re not into soft-roading, there’s something to be said for having all that grunt in a car with sensible wheels and a simple interior.
Click the images for the full gallery