David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
Tow Car Editor
And by arguably combining the best of these two cars, the new VW Tiguan Allspace might just be the best of the lot.
We know what tow car talent the Tiguan and the Kodiaq have, so the Allspace will be even better, right?
What is the VW Tiguan Allspace?
Alright, so it's not quite that simple, but think of the Tiguan Allspace as VW's Kodiaq and you won't be far wrong.
Compared with the 'standard' Tiguan, the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) has been extended by just over 10cm to 2787mm, just 4mm less than Kodiaq's. The overall length is 4701mm, 4mm longer than the Kodiaq.
The extra length means there's room for a third row of seats, making the Tiguan Allspace a seven-seater.
There's also more boot space, so long as the rearmost seats are folded – a huge 700 litres.
Stretching the wheelbase of an existing design can make a car look rather ungainly, but to our eyes Volkswagen's designers have done a fine job of hiding the Allspace's extra bulk.
Behind the wheel
The same applies out on the road. The standard VW Tiguan is nimble for an SUV, and the larger Allspace feels scarcely any less wieldy.
We've tried three cars, all of them diesels (there are also two petrols with 150PS or 180PS).
The 2.0 TDI 150PS (148bhp) SE Nav is expected to be the best selling model, priced at £31,550 for the 2WD manual we drove.
The standard suspension set-up strikes a fine compromise between crisp control at high speeds and bump-beating comfort when you're happy to dawdle.
The steering is precise and direct, and even on slightly damp roads we didn't miss four-wheel drive. However, the 4x4 models would still be our choice for four-season towing, especially for caravanners who enjoy staying at out-of-the-way farm campsites.
The 2WD has a kerbweight of 1700kg, giving an 85% match figure of 1445kg. That's well within the legal towing limit of 2000kg.
Officially, VW hasn't confirmed the maximum download on the towball for the Allspace, but the maximum for the regular Tiguan is 100kg.
You can buy a 4x4 Tiguan Allspace with the 150PS diesel engine for £33,115, which adds 75kg to the kerbweight and an extra 400kg to the legal towing limit.
Need more performance?
For more power, step up to the 190PS (187bhp) 2.0-litre diesel. All cars fitted with this engine are 4x4s, and all come with a seven-speed automatic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).
The kerbweight is 1845kg, giving an 85% match figure of 1568kg. The legal towing limit is 2400kg.
You do notice this engine's extra poke. It's not so much the top-end power, more the increase in mid-range pulling power. There's 295lb ft of torque rather than 251lb ft, enough to make a worthwhile difference while towing.
The 190PS engine should be strong enough to cope with any sensibly matched caravan, but for even more punch there's a 240PS (237bhp) bi-turbo diesel.
In solo driving this engine makes the Tiguan Allspace seriously quick – VW claims a 0-62mph time of just 6.7 seconds.
You could argue that level of performance is overkill for towing, but if you have a hefty twin-axle tourer, the bi-turbo's 369lb ft of torque promises confident overtaking and effortless performance on hilly roads.
It's also the heaviest model in the range, with a kerbweight of 1920kg. That gives an 85% match figure of 1632kg. The legal maximum is 2500kg.
A question of suspension
The two more powerful diesels we drove were both SEL spec, the more expensive of the two trim levels available at the moment. Both were fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), an £810 option on the 190PS car and standard on the 240PS model.
This gives the choice of comfort, normal and dynamic modes for the suspension. Comfort works well around town, but feels a little loose on country roads.
Sport is much better tied down without feeling harsh, while normal seems like the right compromise, most of the time. Given the competence of the standard suspension set-up, spending the extra on DCC certainly isn't essential, but it does add to the VW Tiguan's breadth of ability.
Certainly we prefer the DCC system to the lowered sports suspension on R Design models, which will be available to order from March. Our experience of this suspension fitted to the standard Tiguan suggests it makes for a superbly stable tow car, but at the expense of an over-firm ride.
Inside, the Allspace is much like any other Tiguan if you're sat in the front seats.
However, those in the middle benefit from more legroom – an extra 54mm according to VW. That's enough of a difference for tall adults to feel considerably more comfortable.
They won't be so happy in the third row, however. It's very cramped, and really suited to children rather than adults.
Fortunately the middle row slides back and forth on runners over a range of 18cm, and if those in the second row are prepared to give up some of their extra legroom the seats are more usable. However, a Kia Sorento has more space for those travelling in seats six and seven.
With all seats upright, there's 230 litres of boot space – enough for a few bags of shopping, but certainly not holiday luggage for seven.
But with seats six and seven folded away, the VW Tiguan Allspace has a huge 700-litre boot. With the second row folded as well (there are levers either side of the tailgate), the total capacity is 1775 litres.
VW's ultimate SUV?
The third row may be cramped, but the Allspace is certainly a more practical car than the regular Tiguan. It is also just as good to drive.
Does that make it the best of the VW Group's current crop of SUVs?
Price is the sticking point. The 190PS diesel 4x4 DSG is priced from £36,155. You can have the same engine and gearbox combination in the Škoda Kodiaq seven-seater for £34,470.
Is the VW worth almost £1700 more than the Škoda? It's a little sharper to drive, but we're talking about a few percentage points here and there.
In terms of space and practicality there's little in it, and the quality of finish is closer than you might expect.
It all comes down to what tow car ability the new VW Tiguan Allspace has – and that's something we're going to find out soon...