Crossovers and SUVs are no longer the slow, lurching family vehicles of yesteryear. As consumers have flocked to the high-riding vehicles, automakers have followed with potent powertrains and fancy badging. A new CAR video pits two such examples against each other in a drag race, determined to see if the Volkswagen Tiguan R can outrun the Land Rover Defender 90 V8.
At the heart of the Tiguan R is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It makes 316 bhp (235 kilowatts) and 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-metres) of torque. Volkswagen routes that power to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. On paper, the VW is at a massive disadvantage against the V8-powered Land Rover Defender 90. The Defender comes ready to race with its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. It produces 517 bhp (386 kW) and 460 lb-ft (625 Nm) of torque, far more than the pesky Tiguan.
Gallery: 2021 Land Rover Defender 90: First Drive
One would think that the Defender’s extra power would have launched it off the line with gusto, but the Volkswagen got the better start. The Tiguan flew off the starting line, putting the Land Rover in second place and unable to catch up. The Defender stayed in the Tiguan’s mirrors until the end, with the VW crossing the finish line first and completing the quarter-mile drag race in an impressive 13.3 seconds. The Land Rover wasn’t far behind, crossing the finish line in 13.5 seconds.
It would have been interesting to see the two compete in a rolling race, which would have eliminated the Tiguan’s starting advantage. The more-powerful Defender would have done better in such a race. The Land Rover is substantially heavier than the Volkswagen by around 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds), giving the Defender one disadvantage from a dig.
Thirteen-second quarter-mile times for two crossovers is an impressive feat. They are not the quickest examples for sale today, but they show how performance affects the segment. These petrol-powered crossovers are quick, and the onslaught of battery-electric vehicles will only further blur the line between mainstream family vehicles and performance cars.