David Motton
Tow Car Editor

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

What tow car will you buy next? Are you considering switching to petrol power? With this in mind, we've hitched up with this VW Tiguan to find out more!

Overview

We’re familiar with the Volkswagen Tiguan, having previously run a diesel model on our long-term fleet.

Like many caravanners, we’re curious about making the switch to petrol power, hence this test of the 2.0 TSI 180.

But what tow car ability will it have?

In general, petrol engines have much less pulling power than the equivalent diesel, but the 2.0-litre engine in our Tiguan has 236lb ft of torque.

Is that enough to handle a sensibly matched caravan – and will fuel economy suffer?

Towing

Petrol cars can be much lighter than a comparable diesel, but the VW Tiguan TSI only gives away 30kg or so to the diesel version.

Volkswagen quotes a range of kerbweights from 1645kg to 1862kg. Even working from the lower figure, that gives a reasonable 85% match figure of 1398kg.

That’s well within the legal towing limit of 2500kg.

For our test, we matched the Tiguan to a 2010 Elddis Odyssey 540 with a MiRO of 1377kg.

Any doubts about whether the petrol engine would be up to the job were quickly dispelled.

The 2.0 TSI pulled the Elddis up to speed confidently and without fuss.

On steep hills, the DSG gearbox sometimes selected a lower gear than a torquier diesel might have needed, but with smooth gear changes and a refined engine, this was no great hardship.

The engine underlined its strength with a brisk 30-60mph time of 11.1 seconds.

That compares well with the 10.9 seconds our 190PS diesel Tiguan achieved, albeit towing a different caravan.

Stability-wise, the petrol-powered Tiguan proved a confident and secure tow car.

Whereas our previous diesel model had sport suspension, the petrol has adaptive dampers and we found it more forgiving of rough roads while towing.

The Tiguan handled the lane-change test well, too. It changed direction quickly and kept body roll well in check by SUV standards.

Even with the caravan beginning to slip and slide behind it, the Tiguan stuck to its task.

It also pulled away on a 1-in-10 slope with ease. A few more revs were required than with a diesel, but four-wheel drive and the DSG made life easy.

Only when hitching up did we have any complaint about the DSG, which doesn’t ‘creep’ as smoothly at low speeds as a conventional auto.

Everyday driving

So we’ve once more established what tow car might the VW Tiguan has, but what’s this petrol variant like when driven solo?

Having put many miles on Tiguans with sports suspension and now with adaptive dampers, it’s not hard to say which we prefer.

The adaptive set-up gives drivers the choice of sport, normal and comfort modes.

The latter two are much more supple over bumpy roads than the sports set-up, which comes as standard on range-topping R-Line models.

We found the normal setting a sensible compromise for most driving conditions, sometimes switching to comfort at lower speeds around town.

Head out into the countryside and body control in comfort is a little too loose, but either of the other modes delivers a taut and responsive drive.

Sport also adds heft to the steering and sharpens the throttle response.

Without a caravan in tow, you can really enjoy the 2.0 TSI’s free-revving nature and more cultured exhaust note.

There’s almost as much mid-range pull as an equivalent diesel, but a lot more top-end grunt.

As with the R-Line diesel we’ve tested previously, there’s some road noise to contend with, particularly over coarse surfaces.

Otherwise the VW Tiguan cruises along reasonably quietly.

Space

We found the driving position comfortable, and there’s enough adjustment for the seat and wheel for short and tall drivers to be accommodated equally well.

The dashboard is attractive to look at and clearly laid out, although some of the plastics on the doors and the lower part of the dash are quite hard.

There’s decent rear-seat space for adults to travel comfortably.

The seat backs can be reclined and the whole seats slide forward on runners to make room for a little more luggage if needed.

With the rear seats in place there’s 615 litres for bags.

That’s more than most estate cars, although it’s some way off the 720 litres in a five-seat Škoda Kodiaq.

Levers either side of the boot make it easy to fold the rear seats and liberate 1655 litres.

Running costs

We could only achieve 20.8mpg while towing with the petrol Tiguan.

According to the official combined figures, the Tiguan is capable of 38.2mpg in solo driving.

However, we’ve seen returns in the low 30s even when driving gently.

With a price of £33,015, the Tiguan costs more than many of its rivals.

However, What Car?’s research suggests that haggling will get that down to £30,387.

If you sell the car after three years and 36,000 miles, What Car? predicts you’ll get back around 45% of its original price after three years.

Technical specs

Engine size1984 cc
Towball limit100 kg
Maximum towing limit2500 kg
Power178.0 bhp
Torque236.0 lb ft
Official MPG38.2 mpg
Towing MPG20.8 mpg
CO2170 g/km
30-60mph11.1 seconds
30-0mph10.7 m

Verdict

The VW Tiguan is a stable tow car and an enjoyable everyday drive.

But it’s relatively expensive and – with this petrol engine – rather thirsty.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's a stable, confience-inspiring tow car
  • The petrol engine is strong and free-revving
  • The cabin looks and feels great, and provides good space

Cons

  • This engine proved thirsty