Volkswagen Tiguan review

Volkswagen Tiguan review

We road test the latest version of VW’s biggest selling car – the Tiguan family crossover…

The Tiguan is a hugely important model for Volkswagen. Since the family crossover was first launched back in 2007, nearly eight million have been sold and it’s the German giant’s best-selling car globally.

However, there’s no time to rest on your laurels in the automotive world, so it’s welcome to the third-generation Tiguan.

Volkswagen Tiguan review

It’s got its work cut out too, because its many rivals in the mid-size family SUV sector include the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, MINI Countryman and Hyundai Tucson.

On the engine front, Volkswagen has covered most bases with a choice of petrol (TSI), diesel (TDI) and mild-hybrid petrol engines (eTSI) from launch.

Later in 2024 there will be two plug-in hybrid (eHybrid) models offering offer up to 62 miles of electric range thanks to a large 19.7kWh battery.

Volkswagen Tiguan review

All Tiguan models now feature automatic transmission, while 4Motion (four-wheel drive) is only available in the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol turbo (TSI) powered cars.

At 4539mm long, 1639mm tall (minus roof rails) and 1842mm wide, the new Tiguan is 30mm longer, 4mm taller and the same width as its popular predecessor.

Looks-wise, it’s fair to say that it’s more of an evolution of the outgoing model, rather than cutting-edge design.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Overall, the styling is smoother and more curvaceous (the drag coefficient has improved from 0.33 to 0.28) and its front end is not unlike its all-electric ID cousins.

At the back, there’s a full-width horizontal LED strip with classy ‘Tiguan’ lettering on the tailgate.

The biggest changes are inside, where the third-gen Tiguan has been treated to a new cabin sporting a cleaner look, improved technology, higher quality materials and more space than its predecessor.

Volkswagen Tiguan review

All versions come with a 10.3-inch driver’s digital instrument panel, plus a central 12.9-inch infotainment touchscreen. A huge 15.0-inch version is also available as part of an upgrade – as is a head-up display.

The touch sliders at the bottom of the infotainment screen work better than some of the original ID models and they are now illuminated so easier to use at night. Thankfully, there are physical buttons on the steering wheel, rather than touch-sensitive controls.

There’s plenty of space for all the family, with ample head and legroom for rear passengers, plus a large 648-litre boot.

Volkswagen Tiguan review

Overall, the cabin is comfortable and pleasant (if slightly business-like) place to be with good visibility and clear, intuitive instrumentation and solid build quality.

My test car was a 1.5-litre eTSI mild (48V) hybrid, pushing out 148bhp. As you’d expect, the driving position is suitably high, while the gear selector has been moved up to the right-hand side of the steering column, meaning the left stalk now controls the windscreen wipers and indicators.

Mercedes-Benz already does this, and once you get over the initial wiper/indicator activation mistakes, it kind of works, but my preference would always be for separate stalks. Additionally, there are gear-change paddles behind the steering wheel.

Volkswagen Tiguan

It’s also worth noting that Volkswagen has decided to fit a useful rotary controller down in the centre console which adjusts the radio volume and switches between drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport or Individual).

For the record, the Tiguan I drove is capable of 130mph with a respectable 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds. CO2 emissions and economy are a claimed 141g/km and 45.6mpg respectively, with the latter seemingly very achievable even after a few hours of mixed driving.

On the road, the four-cylinder engine is smooth with plenty of mid-range pulling power. It will become more vocal under heavy acceleration, but for the most part it’s impressively refined.

Gareth Herincx driving the 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan

The slick seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox works well, though it occasionally holds onto gears for a fraction too long.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Tiguan’s ride and handling are class-leading, but they are well up to the job. The suspension is at the firmer end of the scale, but not uncomfortably so. The steering is easy and light, and the car is generally composed with good body control in faster corners, combined with ample grip.

Choose Sport mode and the throttle and gearbox are a tad more responsive, but then performance and dynamism aren’t the main priorities for the family favourite that is the Tiguan.

Volkswagen Tiguan

At launch, the Volkswagen Tiguan range consists of five trim levels (Tiguan, Life, Match, Elegance and R-Line) with prices starting at £34,075.

Verdict: Volkswagen has played it safe with the much-improved third-generation Tiguan, sticking with a winning formula of understated style, comfort and quality. The good news for families is that it now also boasts more space, it’s equipped with the latest technology and safety kit, and it’s more economical.

Volkswagen UK

MINI Countryman review

MINI Countryman review

We get to grips with the next-gen MINI Countryman in entry-level and performance guises…

I’ve always found it tricky trying to categorise the MINI Countryman. It looks like it’s a cross between an estate and a crossover, yet it’s actually about the same size as a family-sized Nissan Qashqai SUV.

One thing is for sure, the third generation Countryman is the biggest MINI ever. MAXI even.

Fans will be pleased to know that it’s still recognisable as a Countryman with its boxy styling, though this time round it’s 130mm longer than the outgoing model and 60mm taller.

The even better news is that means there’s more space for occupants and their luggage, and it’s had a significant tech upgrade.

MINI Countryman review

First a quick recap. The MINI Countryman first appeared in 2010, with the second generation following in 2017. Significantly the Mk 2 was also available as a plug-in hybrid.

The all-new Countryman goes one better. There’s now a 100% electric option with a range of up to 287 miles.

The EV wasn’t available at the launch event, so we sampled two of the turbo petrol versions – the entry-level Countryman C, which has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and is likely to be the most popular model – and the high-performance Countryman JCW (John Cooper Works) ALL4 range-topper, complete with 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

The 2024 MINI Countryman follows the clean, minimalist look already seen in the new MINI Cooper Electric.

MINI Countryman review

There’s now an octagonal grille, smoother lines and simplified LED lighting front and back, while its rugged, upright proportions give it more of an SUV style.

Starting at £29,290 the MINI Countryman is offered with three trim levels – Classic, Exclusive or Sport. The JCW tips the scales at a hefty £40,425.

Arguably, the wow factor comes when you step inside the cabin. It’s paired back, like the exterior, and now the centrepiece is the world’s first circular OLED display.

Serving as an instrument cluster and onboard infotainment hub, the stunning touchscreen is 9.4 inches in diameter. The upper half displays vehicle-related information such as speed and battery status, with the lower area is used for navigation, media, phone and climate.

MINI Countryman review

Frankly, it was a little overwhelming at first because there’s an awful lot going on there, but I reckon it would all start to make sense after a week or so of ownership. Thankfully, MINI has kept a few signature toggle switches below the display.

The display’s party trick is a range of different ‘Experience’ modes, which change the look of the infotainment system and the car’s driving characteristics.

The default ‘Experience’ mode is referred to as Core, with others including Go Kart, Green, Vivid, Timeless, Personal, Balance, and Trail. Whenever you change the mode there’s a corresponding animation and jingle that plays. You’ll either find these quirky or irritating.

Elsewhere, the cabin definitely feels roomier and lighter than before (there’s an optional panoramic glass roof).

MINI Countryman review

A sliding rear seat bench with adjustable backrests adds to the car’s flexibility, while up to 460 litres of boot space is offered with the seats up, expanding to 1,450 litres when they’re folded. Plus, there’s an additional under-floor compartment for stowing charging cables, for instance. In short, it’s a genuine family-sized car.

One of the outgoing Countryman’s strengths was the premium quality of the cabin. Except for the soft synthetic leather seats, I’d say the new model isn’t quite as classy, with its blend of rough-textured ‘knitted’ fabric made from recycled materials wrapped round the dashboard and door cards, and scratchy plastic surfaces.

Another example is the small perspex head-up display. Better than nothing, but nowhere near as classy as a HUD that projects directly onto the windscreen.

On the road, the third-gen Countryman has retained the fun-loving character you’d associate with the MINI family.

The front-wheel drive Countryman C’s punchy engine produces 167bhp and 280Nm of torque, and it can dash from 0–62mph in 8.3 seconds.

So, it’s swift, but it’s also no hot hatch – you’ll need to choose the S or JCW versions for more performance.

MINI Countryman

That said, it’s willing, and if you like a three-pot thrum and economy is important to you (it averages up to 46.3mpg, while CO2 emissions start at 138g/km), then this model ticks all the right boxes.

The C gets a standard passive suspension setup, which is on the firm side. It’s only really noticeable over the worst lumps and bumps, though it can feel a little jittery on poorer surfaces too.

For the most part it’s a perfectly pleasant ride with tidy handling and plenty of grip. The steering is direct and responsive, while the seven-speed automatic gearbox is slick with well-judged rations.

There’s decent body control in more challenging corners, but it would be an exaggeration to say that the Countryman C is agile with go-kart handling.

If you want more performance and sporty handling, then try the distinctive John Cooper Works Countryman. Its 2.0-litre produces 296bhp and 400Nm of torque, drive is via all four wheels and it can sprint from 0–62mph in just 5.1 seconds.

On the downside, fuel economy drops to an official 36.2mpg and CO2 emissions rise to an old-school 177-188g/km.

MINI Countryman JCW

The JCW gets an adaptive suspension setup, so it constantly alters its behaviour according to road conditions and driving style in order to maximise the balance between ride and handling.

In reality, it feels more planted on the road, and if anything, it’s just a bit too powerful at times.

The steering is sharp and, for the most part, the ride is better, but it’s still firm and will still crash over the worst UK roads can offer.

The engine is more refined, though some won’t like the fact that it is artificially enhanced.

Stick the JCW into ‘Go-Kart’ mode and it sharpens up, delivering more driving engagement than its conventional SUV rivals.

Verdict: The new MINI Countryman is a real step-up from its predecessor, especially when it comes to practicality and technology. Fun to drive, well equipped and nicely finished, there’s arguably more of a cooler vibe than premium feel this time round.

MINI UK

Revealed: UK’s Top 10 best-selling cars

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Ford Puma

The official data for car sales has been released and it’s clear that 2023 was a year of recovery after the pandemic and the computer chip shortage.

In all, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures show that more than 1.9 million new cars were registered in the UK in 2023 – the best year since 2019, but still 17.7% down on the 2.3 million sold that year.

And despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, 2023 was still a record year for electric vehicle sales, with more than 300,000 new EVs registered – an increase of almost 50,000 compared with 2022.

So, what were the most popular new cars of 2023? Here’s the Top 10 best-sellers…

1. Ford Puma: 49,591

2. Nissan Qashqai: 43,321

3. Vauxhall Corsa: 40,816

4. Kia Sportage: 36,135

5. Tesla Model Y: 35,899

6. Hyundai Tucson – 34,469

7. Mini Hatch: 33,385

8. Nissan Juke – 31,745

9. Audi A3: 30,159

10. Vauxhall Mokka: 29,984

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Toyota C-HR review

Toyota C-HR

We drive the latest version of Toyota’s popular C-HR family crossover – and it’s a big, bold step-up…

If a car could be judged purely on its styling, the second-generation Toyota C-HR would be best-in-class.

And when you consider that its biggest rivals include the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Skoda Karoq, Seat Ateca and Hyundai Tucson, that’s no mean feat.

Toyota C-HR

But before we weigh up the new C-HR’s pros and cons, let’s go back to 2017 when the first generation ‘Coupe-High Rider’ was launched in the UK.

With its radical looks, it was something of a departure for Toyota which was still selling the conservative Auris and Avensis at the time.

The funky C-HR was a chunky crossover with a low-slung roofline like a coupe. Distinctively styled with a big roof spoiler and sloping rear window, it was well-equipped, but it also wasn’t without its issues.

Toyota C-HR

Fast forward to 2023 and the all-new Toyota C-HR is a looker. A more grown-up version of the outgoing model, it boasts a wider stance and the original’s curves have been replaced by sharper lines and solid surfacing.

Once again there’s a heavily raked tailgate, though this time it features a dual-element rear spoiler and a full-width LED light bar below with an illuminated ‘C-HR’.

At the front, it features the new ‘hammerhead’ face of Toyota SUVs, while the ‘hidden’ raised rear door handles are no more (they’ve been replaced by retractable ones, front and rear). Overall build quality, interior materials and technology have also been upgraded.

Toyota C-HR

Priced from £31,290, the new model launches initially with 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines paired with Toyota’s latest fifth-generation full hybrid technology that ups both power and efficiency.  A 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid will arrive in 2024.

The 1.8-litre delivers 138bhp and the 2.0-litre ups power to 194bhp. Official figures put fuel economy at 60.1mpg and 57.6mpg respectively, while CO2 emissions are from 105g/km and 110g/km.

Both engines are front-wheel drive (there’s no AWD option) and a 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid (with an EV range of up to 41 miles) will join the C-HR line-up in 2024.

Toyota C-HR

First impressions count, and the second-gen Toyota C-HR certainly oozes kerb appeal, especially if you choose a two-tone paint-job.

In terms of size, its dimensions are almost identical to the Suzuki S-Cross, which makes it a tad smaller than its main competitors (including the Nissan Qashqai), but bigger than the class below (eg Nissan Juke).

The driving position is on the high side for me, but you soon get used to it because it’s comfortable with a decent amount of support.

Toyota C-HR - Gareth Herincx

There are roomier cabins, not just because the C-HR isn’t as wide as some rivals, but the driver focused set-up with high centre console makes it snug, especially on the passenger side.

The good news is that the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen (on all but entry trims) combined with the driver’s digital display looks the part and works well enough. And mercifully, the C-HR has some physical controls for essentials such as air-conditioning – unlike some new cars.

There’s reasonable space for passengers at the back, while the cabin as a whole has a classier feel, with more soft-touch surfaces.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota’s also ticked the sustainability box because the seat fabrics are made from recycled plastic bottles and there’s animal-free ‘leather’ on the steering wheel.

Load capacity varies between the two engines – 388 litres (1.8) and 364 litres for the 2.0. Again, not class-leading, but adequate. All models come with 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

Visibility is good ahead, but slightly more challenging behind thanks to those chunky rear pillars and small rear windows. Thankfully, all versions have a reversing camera.

Toyota C-HR

The C-HR has a fairly supple suspension and it handles lumps and bumps well. So, it’s one of the more comfortable SUVs on the market.

Light steering suits its natural urban habitat well, but the C-HR is also a pleasant cruiser. It would be an exaggeration to call it dynamic on twistier roads, but there are good levels of body control and decent grip.

We tested both engines (not the GR Sport grade), and both balance performance with economy, delivering 10.2sec and 8.1sec respectively for the 0-62mph sprint.

Toyota C-HR

The issue with both is that there’s a CVT automatic gearbox which causes the revs to rise and stay high until you’ve reached your desired speed. The din in the cabin soon settles down, but it puts you off driving anything but smoothly.

Interestingly, the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid engine is a little more refined, so manages to iron out the worst of the CVT better.

Toyota C-HR

The C-HR slips between electric and engine modes seamlessly, and can be driven along for short distances using the electric motor alone, so all in all, the claimed economy figures are very achievable.

Finally, it’s always worth remembering that the C-HR comes with a three-year warranty that extends up to 10 years/100,000 miles so long as your car is serviced annually at an authorised Toyota workshop.

Verdict: The cool new Toyota C-HR is a real step-up from the first-generation model. Easy to drive, economical, well equipped and classy, it certainly stands out from the crowd.

Toyota UK

Nissan’s Sunderland plant produces 11 millionth car

Gareth Herincx

4 days ago
Auto News

Nissan Sunderland Plant celebrates 11 millionth car

The team at Nissan Sunderland Plant are celebrating building their 11 millionth vehicle since production started in 1986.

The milestone means that, on average, a new car has rolled off the line every two minutes, every hour of every day, for 37 years.

The 11 millionth car was a Blade Silver Qashqai e-Power, one of three electrified models currently built at the plant. The first car, built in 1986, was a white Nissan Bluebird, which took about 22 hours to build. Today, a top of the range Qashqai e-Power takes about 8.5 hours.

“This milestone reflects the vast experience that our world-class manufacturing team has in delivering the quality cars that our customers love,” said Adam Pennick, Vice President, Manufacturing, at Nissan Sunderland.

“We’ve come a long way since production first started with some iconic models on the way. But we’re always looking forward, and our fully electrified range and EV36Zero plan mean we have an exciting and sustainable future ahead.”

The 11 million is made up of nine different models, with 22 variants. Four models, Qashqai, Micra, Primera and Juke have gone past seven figures, with Qashqai the all-time highest at more than four million.

Last year Qashqai was the UK’s best-selling new car – the first British built model to win the award in 24 years.

The UK’s largest car manufacturer by volume, Sunderland Plant is home to a workforce of about 6,000 people. Nissan also supports a further 30,000 UK jobs in the supply chain, with about five million parts arriving every day at the plant.

Notes:

Model First produced Last produced Total made
Bluebird 1986 1990 187,178
Qashqai 2006 Ongoing 4,059,516
Micra 1992 2010 2,368,705
Primera 1990 2007 1,483,059
Juke 2010 Ongoing 1,295,011
Almera 2000 2006 642,420
Note 2006 2016 676,438
Infiniti 2015 2019 76,166
LEAF 2010 Ongoing 263,405

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