There are lots of families in a hurry in Australia.
Orders for the fast Volkswagen Tiguan R family hauler are were recently closed, as VW Australia worked to clear a significant backlog. They’re open again, but only on the back of a healthy extra dose of stock from Germany.
Lots of people clearly want to get their hands on this hot SUV, and there aren’t quite enough to go around.
Along with “improved production” of the regular Tiguan R for Australia, Volkswagen has come up with the Grid Edition as a solution.
With no electric, heated front seats, no IQ.Light Matrix LED headlights, and no blind-spot or rear cross-traffic assist (among other omissions), the 2023 Tiguan R Grid Edition isn’t as well equipped as the regular model.
But it makes up for that fact by offering the same performance, packing a racy set of front seats, and shaving $6500 from the sticker price. You even get unique badging, which in the case of some of our testers was a bit crooked.
It’s an enticing proposition on paper. Does it stack up in the real world?
The Tiguan R Grid Edition has a starting price of $63,990 before on-roads, undercutting the regular Tiguan R by $6500.
There aren’t many direct rivals for the Tiguan R at its regular price, let alone its Grid Edition price.
If you don’t need all that space, the Tiguan R has a little brother in the form of the T-Roc R. It starts at $54,300 before on-roads in similarly equipped Grid Edition form.
Not much has changed from the regular Tiguan R behind the wheel, which is no bad thing.
The only real difference are the front seats, which are racier units than the standard leather-trimmed seats. They’re finished in blue and grey, and look purposeful.
Given they’re incredibly supportive and comfortable, and retain heating, you could argue they’re even an improvement over the standard leather seats on what’s meant to be a sporty SUV.
The steering wheel is the same flat-bottom unit featured on the R – complete with the same silly touch buttons, unfortunately – and you get the same excellent set of digital dials capable of showing maps, your trip computer, or media controls.
Although the sports seats look quite racy, they’re set high enough to offer a commanding view of the road ahead as you’d hope of an SUV. With big windows and a reasonably boxy profile, all-round visibility is excellent.
That makes the loss of blind-spot assist easier to swallow, although we’re also keen on more safety equipment being standard than less.
Volkswagen’s infotainment software is clean and simple to navigate, and the graphics are modern, but it feels serviceable rather than flashy or standout.
With wireless Apple CarPlay, it’s easy to circumvent the factory software anyway, and the pair of USB-C ports work to make sure any devices are fully juiced.
The cupholders, spacious central bin, cutout below the dashboard, and the big door bins, you’re not short of places to store stuff. It’s eminently practical, and feels meaningfully larger than the T-Roc R we drove at the same time.
Rear seat space is good, despite the Tiguan’s compact-ish looks.
There’s room for average-height adults behind average-height adults, with plenty of legroom, and the air vents, fold-down central armrest, and USB-C ports will all make kids comfortable on long trips.
Along with a trio of top-tether points, there are ISOFIX anchors on the outboard rear seats.
It’s rare, but the sunroof in our tester didn’t ruin headroom back there either.
Whether or not it’s an option worth ticking on the more budget-oriented Grid is up for debate; we’d argue it makes a reasonably premium SUV feel even more upmarket.
Claimed boot space is 615 litres, expanding to 1655L with the rear seats folded. The boot is a flat, broad space with no loading lip, making it easy to get heavy items in there.
Power in the Tiguan R comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque. Cars in Europe have 420Nm of torque, but also feature a petrol particulate filter (PPF).
That tune is expected to come Down Under eventually, but it’s not clear when.
The engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and has a 100km/h sprint time of 5.1 seconds according to Volkswagen.
Claimed fuel economy is 8.8 litres per 100km, and the fuel tank holds 58 litres. The car drinks 98 RON premium unleaded.
The regular Tiguan R and the R Grid feel identical to drive. That’s a good thing.
The 2.0-litre turbo is smooth and quiet at low speeds, with plenty of torque for effortless punch low in the rev range. In the default Sport mode it surfs around town without kicking up a fuss, ably aided by the seven-speed transmission.
There’s no real hesitation or awkwardness at low speeds, the powertrain just does what it needs to do.
Put your foot down though and it really gets a move on. The DSG will kick down one, two, even three gears when you flatten the throttle, dropping you right into the meat of the engine’s torque – at which point the Tiguan picks up and starts reeling in the horizon at a rate of knots.
It’s not just a rocket strapped to a roller skate, either. On tight, twisting country backroads the Tiguan R is more agile than you’d expect, with solid body control with the adaptive dampers set to Race and bags of traction from the all-wheel drive system.
You don’t get quite the same levels of agility on offer in the smaller T-Roc R at the front end, but there’s only a hint of understeer on the way into corners and, once the Grid is turned, you can lean on the 4Motion system to drag you out in a hurry.
On bumpy roads covered with leaf litter the R doesn’t get deflected by mid-corner bumps, and isn’t wrong-footed by debris or variable road surfaces. Volkswagen R models tend to major on all-weather performance, and the Tiguan is no exception.
You aren’t forced to make many compromises for the Tiguan R’s handling, either.
With the adaptive dampers set to Comfort, the ride quality is surprisingly good for a small-ish SUV on 21-inch alloy wheels.
It doesn’t crash and bash over potholes and speed humps, and even at speed it does a good job isolating occupants from poor road surfaces.
Although entry-level models with smaller wheels and bigger sidewalls are more comfortable again, they don’t handle like the R.
The main trade-off is road noise, which is a common complaint with European performance cars.
It’s not deafening, but you’ll need to turn up the stereo a few clicks to drown out the roar at 100km/h on coarse-chip surfaces.
Volkswagen’s suite of driver assists are also very smart. The adaptive cruise control smartly maintains a gap to the car in front, and the lane-keep assist isn’t too hands on.
Tiguan R Grid Edition highlights:
- Premium LED tail lights incl. dynamic indicators
- Tri-zone climate control
- Microfleece/cloth seat trim
- 21-inch Estoril alloy wheels
- Power-folding side mirrors with memory, kerb functions
- Heated, three-spoke R leather steering wheel with R button, haptic pads
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- 360-degree camera system
- Auto lights and wipers
- Keyless entry and start
- Welcome light with R projection in front doors
- Illuminated R scuff plates for front doors
- 10.25-inch configurable digital instrument cluster
- 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Digital Radio DAB+
- Head-up display
- Ambient lighting with 30 colours
- Adaptive suspension with three settings (Comfort, Sport, Race)
- Premium Metallic/Pearl Effect paint
- Carpet floor mats with blue stitching
- Rear privacy glass
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
- Trailer hitch preparation
The Volkswagen Tiguan wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests carried out in 2016.
It achieved scores of 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 80 per cent for child occupant protection, 68 per cent for pedestrian protection (pre-update), and 68 per cent for safety assist.
The Tiguan R Grid Edition misses out on blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and proactive occupant assist relative to the regular model.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags
- AEB with Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Travel Assist (adaptive cruise + adaptive lane guidance)
- Lane-keep assist
- Parking sensors (front + rear)
- Driver fatigue monitoring
- Emergency Assist (pulls vehicle over if driver is unresponsive)
Volkswagen offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty across its entire passenger vehicle range, including the Tiguan R.
Also included is one year of roadside assistance, which gets extended by a year each time you service your car with a participating Volkswagen dealer for up to 10 years from the original new car warranty start date.
Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
Volkswagen offers a three-year service plan for the Tiguan R priced at $1700, while the five-year plan is $3200.
Opting for the Grid Edition doesn’t take much away from what was already a convincing take on the fast family SUV formula.
The boy racer in me prefers the fixed headrest seats in the Grid to the more luxurious pews in the standard Tiguan, and the fact they’re manually adjusted isn’t exactly a huge sacrifice to make given the $6500 savings.
The loss of active safety kit is arguably harder to swallow, although it’s not as if anyone buying the Grid will be surprised to hear it’s missing. We’d also be taking the Grid Edition badges off the boot…
Beyond the spec changes, the Tiguan R remains a fun, fast, and practical SUV for parents in a hurry. It’s not quite as lively as its T-Roc R little brother, but it still punches well above its weight when the road gets interesting.
And, the whole family can enjoy the fun.
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