With the new Volkswagen Tiguan around the corner and launching in showrooms in February, it was time for a final drive in the 2023 model to see what we would like to see in the new, third generation model, which has become a comprehensively restyled and re-engineered version of VW’s best-selling car. The new Tiguan MY2024 model has shown its face in September and will run on VW’s upgraded MQB-Evo platform. Across the board there will be a wide range of changes, upgrades and a totally new design both in- and outside.

The new model comes with a wide range of new engine variants, such as two eHybrid option. Both are featuring the same battery and a 113 bhp electric motor, plus a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed automatic gearbox. You can opt for a 201 bhp / 350 Nm or 268 bhp / 400 Nm engine output. Additionally, you will be able to choose for a mild-hybrid 1.5 eTSI engine producing either 128 bhp or 148 bhp. VW’s eTSI powertrain will allow engine-off coasting using a 48-volt electric system, a compact battery and belt starter-generator. There are also new Tiguan models using the 2.0-litre unit. Two TSI turbo petrol engines offers four-wheel drive and produce either 201 or 261 bhp, same goes for the 190 bhp 2.0 TDI unit.

Volkswagen Tiguan (2024)
Volkswagen Tiguan (2024)

The biggest changes are visible on the inside and outside. The sleeker front and rear look improves aerodynamic efficiency and you can now opt for IQ.Light HD matrix LED lights. The mid-SUV is 30 mm longer, 4 mm taller and has the same width as its predecessor. The wheelbase is also the same at 2,680 mm. Inside the cabin, the 2024 model offers Volkswagen’s latest MIB4 infotainment system, with either a 12.9 or 15-inch display. The touch controls on the dashboard haven’t left, but VW shared they improved their ease of use. A nice little detail is the rotary dial on the centre console, which allows you to choose between various ‘Atmospheres’. Each atmosphere has a different interior lighting, chassis and powertrain tuning.

Tiguan R-Line MY23

Let’s touch on the MY23 Tiguan R-Line model, which was handed over to me for a number of days by the Middle East team from Volkswagen just ahead of it being phased out. As mentioned above, the Tiguan has been the solid performer in the VW lineup ever since it was released in 2007. Offering loads of space for families combined with a well-build interior while sharing the engineering and tech with the seventh-generation Golf.

With this information in mind, the Tiguan needs to be judged. The ride is decent and it is able to comfortably take up bigger road imperfections and the numerous speed bumps in the Dubai area. The overall handling feels less SUV-like than you might think. It is more related to the Golf it is based on, than its bigger brother, the Touareg. The steering is light, but precise enough and the suspension was lowered by 10 mm on this R-Line model to give it a better stance. Any fun factor is pretty much absence from the Tiguan. It might have the R-Line visual package preferred by the father of the family, but the car still acts like a family workhorse.

Gallery: 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan last drive review

The performance of the 2.0-litre TSI engine has sufficient oomph at 217 bhp and 350 Nm when you keep the engine in the right position within its rev band. Especially lower in the revs, the car has difficulties spooling up its turbo to get going. Changing to Sport mode and flicking the lever of the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox into S helps, but you feel the engine isn’t a happy bunny at lower revs. As soon as the car is up to speed, the powertrain feels smooth, well composed and perfectly suited to most daily drivers.

The interior offers a well-build design with all the right features you require from a mid-size SUV. In the centre console, you are being offered a plethora of features such as DAB+, three USB Type-C ports, 360 degree cameras plus a rear view camera, wireless charging and ambient lighting. VW’s 9.2-inch Discover Pro setup was part of the tested model and offered clean graphics. However, the completely unintuitive touch-button panel isn’t the greatest and the touch button layout plus control won’t win any prices for ergonomics. Additionally, the cabin feels spacious and there are plenty of optional extras and packages available that add even greater comfort and convenience to you as the driver and your passengers.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line last drive review
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line last drive review

The current generation Tiguan is capable at delivering its core abilities, which is mainly transporting a large group of people and their luggage with great ease and comfort, but without any kind of flair. If you wish, the VW specification list is able to add some lovely extras, such as a Harman Kardon sound system, head-up display, keyless entry, 20 inch rims and all kinds of safety systems. Enough to choose from, just be aware of the price tag when selecting all those options.

This brings us back to the start of this story allowing us to touch on where I would like to see improvements or at least enhancements with regards to the upcoming MY24 Tiguan following the experience with the MY23 model over the last few weeks. First and foremost, I feel it is vital for the VW brand to enhance its presence both on the inside and outside, offering an improved flair to the model, which currently feels a bit bland and under the radar.

Additionally, inside the interior the awful touch-sensitive panels should be fixed offering much better ergonomics. Although more importantly, the Tiguan should enhance on its key abilities of offering a roomy interior, a variety of drivetrain options and the ability to be the sweet spot of transporting people in comfort within the VW lineup and in comparison to its competitors. Let’s see in 2024 if the Germans have succeeded in their task.

Photos by Nick Philippo - @nickpcars on Instagram