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Volkswagen Tiguan interior, tech and practicality

Comfort and visibility

Sitting in the new Volkswagen Tiguan, you might feel like you’ve just brought home a massive new TV that feels too big for the room. You get used to it, of course, but the Tiguan’s screen is a whopper and takes up half the dashboard.

As is now the norm for VWs, the climate controls have migrated to the bottom of the screen. The touch-sensitive sliders are still annoying, imprecise and easy to hit when you don’t want to, but the system is a little easier to use than before. The on-screen climate menu is now a little easier to get your head around.

While the screen is undeniably Tesla-like, VW has sensibly resisted the urge to get rid of all buttons. The steering wheel is full of actual buttons – no awkward touchpads like some recent VWs – and there’s a new ‘Driver Experience Switch’ next to the handbrake. Physical controls! Well, for the volume and drive modes, anyway.

The default setting is for volume adjustment, but press the dial and it quickly changes to the drive mode selector, which you can twiddle from Eco to Sport with a pleasingly rapid and tactile experience. It’s a little strange that there are three different ways to change the volume in the Tiguan, all with different ways of operating – buttons to press on the steering wheel, a dial to twist on the lower centre console and sliders to get annoyed with on the screen.

The textures and materials in the high-spec Elegance trim are really interesting, with a new patterned graphic stretching across most of the dashboard and doors, and multi-tone seat upholstery. Lower-spec versions are a bit more dour, but at least you get ambient lighting and textured seat fabric on Life trim and above to lift the cabin a bit.

Standard equipment

An unnamed entry-level trim kicks off the range, but it’s not too utilitarian. There’s a reversing camera and parking sensors at each end, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, lane-keep assist and LED headlights.

Life sits on 18-inch wheels and gains a little bit of chrome trim, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, voice control and three-zone climate control. All the control. For only £200 more, Match trim adds an automatic boot, keyless entry, tinted rear windows and an illuminated LED strip between the headlights.

High-spec Elegance gains larger wheels again, plus a top-view parking camera, heated and massaging front seats and 30 options for the colour of the ambient lighting. At the top of the range, R-Line has 20-inch wheels, different bumpers and sporty interior trimmings.

Infotainment and audio

Compared to Volkswagen’s recent infotainment efforts, the Tiguan raises the bar substantially. The screen now responds and loads pretty much instantly, and there’s no waiting around for what seems like an eternity for important menu screens to load. It’s clear that the focus on improving the system has been on usability – the home screen is customisable and the new IDA voice assistant seems to recognise spoken commands more often than before.

The standard screen measures 13 inches across, while the upgraded screen measures 15. Either way, it’s a lot of screen real estate. Thankfully, the graphics are as sharp as a tack. And, despite the advances in VW’s baked-in infotainment system, there’s still Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you’d rather use your phone – and both are wireless.

Below the screen, there’s room for two phones, with wireless charging offered on Life trim and up. Just don’t forget the phones are there, as the phone trays can be hidden with a flap.

A digital instrument cluster is also among the standard equipment, and it’s just as crisp and configurable as the main screen.

Rear seat space

We’re always impressed by a car that has reclining rear seats – simple things please simple minds, eh? – and the Tiguan gets our seal of approval. You can have the seats fully upright if you like sitting like a Victorian schoolchild (or if you need more boot space), or really reclined if you want to stretch out and get comfortable on a long journey. And, with the materials in the back being just as plush as the ones in the front, comfort is guaranteed.

There’s plenty of room in the Tiguan’s back seats, even if you’re really tall, and it’s possible to fit three adults across the rear bench – as long as the outer seat occupants don’t mind sharing their foot space with the person in the middle seat.

It’s also easy to get kids in and out of the Tiguan, as you’d hope from a car that appeals to sensible family buyers.

Boot space

And those sensible family buyers might struggle to fill the Tiguan’s 652-litre boot, which is up there with the very best in this class. That’s 37 litres up on the outgoing model, and it’s also more than many estate cars – the Golf Estate included.

There are some useful storage zones in the boot, including a small compartment above the wheel arch moulding and extra storage under the boot floor – even when the floor is in its lowest position. Raise the floor up to its higher position and you’ve got a lip-free load space that’s the same level as the rear seats when they’re folded down. However, it’s a little annoying that the rear seats don’t fold completely flat, creating a slope that could make it tricky to load heavy or bulky things.

Plug-in hybrid Tiguans drop down to 490 litres – quite a considerable reduction in usable space. That figure is still competitive with rival SUVs, though, and comes as a result of the large battery pack which enables an electric range of more than 70 miles.

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