N3 dash in the new Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI 4Motion

Published Jun 1, 2023


Johannesburg – Until recently the N3 highway between Durban and Joburg was arguably one of South Africa’s best and most easily driveable routes.

Having grown up in KZN, but later moving to Joburg to pursue my dream of being a motoring journalist, I have become quite familiar with this stretch of asphalt.

And sure, the tolls almost require a second mortgage, but then it is quite rare, even in global terms, to have a well maintained two-lane road stretching for 600-or-so kilometres. For that reason the N3 has been a relatively stress-free drive since it was fully double-laned two decades ago, and a scenic one too, barring that tedious stretch between Warden and Villiers.

But in recent times its status as a stress-free route has been fading, and not only because of the proliferation of trucks littering it as our railways fade even further into obscurity.

Things have gone pear-shaped around Pietermaritzburg, with frightening crashes on Town Hill becoming a regular occurrence and a road upgrade south of the city that has forced the cars and trucks to share ridiculously narrow makeshift lanes.

What was once an easy-going six-hour journey now regularly takes more than seven, but thankfully the added stresses were counteracted on my last journey by the car I was testing: Volkswagen’s latest Tiguan TDI.

Unlike previous versions of the Tiguan that were offered with a variety of 2.0-litre turbodiesels that included lower-tuned front-wheel drive models, the latest 2.0 TDI is only offered in its “full-fat” guise, with 130kW and 380Nm on offer, 4Motion all-wheel drive and R-Line specification as standard.

This of course means premium positioning, with the new model priced at R818 600 before options, but the upside – if you’re willing to spend that kind of money – is an effortless driving experience as well as the additional safety net that AWD brings in slippery conditions and emergencies that require swerving.

Thankfully my trip to KZN was uneventful, but I did get to appreciate the relative comfort that this model offers.

While the performance provided by the turbodiesel engine was nothing exciting, it felt brisk enough to handle any situation without breaking a sweat, be it overtaking or accelerating on a steep hill after a truck had blocked the fast lane.

I hate to mention the word effortless yet again, but it really does apply to this TDI package.

It’s also impressively economical, averaging 5.8 litres per 100km on the down run, according to the on-board trip, and 6.1 litres on the way up.

Given the 58-litre tank capacity, a 1 000km range could be possible if you’re easy enough on the throttle.

That’s really not bad for a relatively premium and practical vehicle that weighs just under 1.6 tons. But there’s a part of me that wishes VWSA would bring in a lower-powered front-wheel drive TDI like the 105kW unit that was previously offered, as this would surely prove even more efficient and cheaper to buy.

Overall road refinement was impressive, and the Tiguan feels stable and solid through corners and not very SUV-like, for that matter. The ride quality was comfortable on the mostly-smooth N3 surfaces, but the optional 20-inch Suzuka alloy wheels do lend a slightly firm feel over rougher surfaces, albeit not to the point of being uncomfortable.

That said, if I were speccing the car I’d stick with the standard 19-inch rims.

The Tiguan’s interior is for the most part impressive, with a neat cockpit design and high-quality materials. It’s also practical, with ample rear legroom, and the rear seats are on rails so you can adjust the ratio between luggage and passenger room.

The boot is also quite generously sized, with its 520-litre capacity swallowing our luggage with ease.

The ergonomics can be a little iffy in places, with sliders replacing traditional buttons on the ventilation system and steering wheel, and while we’re thankful that VW is getting rid of them in future models, one does get used to them fairly quickly and it is a lot better than having to dig through screen menus like many cars force you to these days. But either way, I’ll take traditional buttons any day.

Our test car was fitted with the optional Discover Pro navigation system and Wireless App Connect.

We liked the modern-looking graphics and overall user-friendliness of the system, but there were a few blemishes. When connected to Google Maps via Apple CarPlay, we found the screen had no pinch and zoom functionality – only clunky digital arrows – which made it hard to find out in advance how bad the traffic was around Pietermaritzburg. We also had to reconnect the CarPlay a few times after making pit stops.

Standard features in the Tiguan 2.0 TDI R-Line include a Composition Media 8.0-inch touchscreen system, Vienna leather seat upholstery with R-Line logos, three-zone automatic climate control with rear ventilation, electric tailgate and a 30-colour ambient lighting system, to name a few of the highlights.

But the options list can add quite significantly to the bill, with our test car sporting items such as a panoramic sunroof (R17 500), Matrix LED headlights (R15 250), Discover Pro (R19 000) and Harman Kardon sound system (R19 200) while the flagship IQ Drive package with adaptive cruise control, lane-change system and park assist will set you back by a further R20 600.


The Volkswagen Tiguan TDI is a welcome addition to the line-up, with its combination of performance, comfort, practicality, style and economy, but it is on the expensive side at just over R800 000. But all round it’s a desirable and high-quality item.

FACTS: Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI

Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel

Power: 130kW @ 3 500 – 4 000rpm

Torque: 380Nm @ 1 750 – 3 000rpm

Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch

Drive: 4Motion all-wheel drive

0 – 100km/h (claimed): 8.2 seconds

Top speed (claimed): 207km/h

Fuel use (highway tested): 6 litres/100km

Fuel use (claimed, overall): 6.6 litres/100km

Fuel tank capacity: 58 litres

Ground clearance: 201mm

Towing capacity (braked) 2 200kg

Kerb weight: 1 599kg

Luggage capacity: 510 litres

Warranty: 3 years/120 000km

Service plan: 5 years/90 000km

IOL Motoring