New AWD system helps keep compact SUV on icy roads
Arvidsjaur, Sweden – After three flights and 24 hours of travelling I finally arrive at my hotel room in Arvidsjaur, Sweden and flop onto my bed for a quick nap.
I need my rest because I will only have a few hours the next day to experience the next-generation VW Tiguan in this remote part of Sweden, just below the Arctic Circle.
Why is VW holding an event in the heart of Lapland? Well, this is the European equivalent of Kapuskasing, Ontario, a cold weather testing facility for automakers. When car companies want to test how a car will start, heat up and function in extreme temperatures, they test them in places like Kapuskasing and Arvidsjaur.
Volkswagen did its cold weather testing on the next Tiguan here two years ago and now it is set to hit the European market this spring. For Canadians, we will need to wait until next fall to get our hands on this much-improved compact utility.
The Tiguan has always been a fun-to-drive, great handling compact utility, but for many it’s just a bit too compact.
The upcoming Tiguan is the first utility to be built on the award-winning platform developed for the latest VW Golf, to be shared across dozens of VW products worldwide. This platform is called MQB and what it does is provide a stiffer, safer, lighter but more importantly, larger platform to build this Tiguan.
The version I had a chance to drive is the European model that is 111 mm longer in the wheelbase than the existing Tiguan but the one we will get here, next year, will be 187 mm longer between the wheels. What this will do is provide VW the ability to sell both a five-passenger utility and the option of a three-row seven-passenger model.
Styling is also all-new, with glimpses of the latest Golf in the headlamp design and sharper creases and edges. This is a much bigger and better looking vehicle, almost upscale compared to the current utility.
With the Tiguan switching to the MQB platform and built in the same Mexican factory as the latest Golf, allows VW to share the same interior refinement and features found in that car. The dash has a more upscale feel, with chrome trim, soft materials where it matters and the latest centre screens.
The base screen will be a 16cm with the option to get a larger 20 cm screen. Both will function as a backup camera and both will come standard with Android Auto and Apple Car Play for seamless smartphone integration. What the European model features is a projected instrument cluster, that is customizable and state of the art.
This feature has not been confirmed for our North American model but might be included down the road. As mentioned, the larger dimensions are welcome, the back seat, even with the European proportions is a big improvement, the larger car sold here should be rather generous in the back seat and cargo area.
Part of the reason for driving in northern Sweden was to experience the latest VW 4Motion all wheel drive (AWD) system in conditions exactly like Canada. This new AWD has the ability to send the power to the front or rear wheels and from side-to-side. This, along with a new control dial, in the centre of the console, lets the driver choose different programs for snow, off-road and a normal, default setting. The new system will then use the stability program, ABS and active differentials to contain slippage and keep the Tiguan heading down the road. I tried this system on and off and when I had it off, I plowed into a snow bank and thankfully didn’t need to be towed out! This stuff does work.
Engine options have not be confirmed for our Canadian market but a good guess is the existing 200hp turbo 4-cylinder will be put to work and hopefully a refined TDI diesel version.
This car has been engineered to take the TDI and the intention is for it to come here, we will just have to wait until the TDI mess is cleared so we can get this next Tiguan with that fuel saving engine.
The daylight hours are short near the Arctic Circle but having a few hours to drive the Tiguan over snowy roads, through a winter driving course and spending some time looking it over, the wait will be worth it. This is a major step forward for VW and the Tiguan will be a force in the heart of this competitive segment. Next fall will be here before you know it.
zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca