Volkswagen affectionately refers to the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan as "the GTI of compact SUVs." Given that VW's cuddly crossover shares myriad parts-notably, the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder-with the company's pocket-rocket, that statement isn't far-fetched.
After extensive on- and off-road driving in a Tiguan SE-Volkswagen provided a mid level front-driver rather than one with 4Motion all-wheel drive, which is available on SE and SEL trims-we can confirm that VW's assertion is more truth than hyperbole.
"Really superb chassis," says editor at large St. Antoine, adding, "The front end bites hard and delivers really good steering feel." Technical director Markus echoes those thoughts: "I love the way this one steers- quicker ratio than most, very light and lithe, and predictable turn-in with minimal drama." The SE also proved satisfyingly quick at the track, scooting from 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.7 at 88.9 mph.
When pushing the envelope near 10/10ths, however, the Tiguan becomes more frightening than fun. "At speed, the Tiguan gets floaty," says senior editor Ed Loh, who also notes, "Under hard braking in a straight line, it pulls right then left-scary if the wheel is even slightly turned." Our front drive tester not only struggles to overcome a steep, uphill section off-road (the only one, even among front-drivers) but also displays unnerving torque steer. As Detroit editor Lassa puts it, "With FWD, the Tiguan is built more for slowly building up to speed, not for full-throttle launches."
Do you think the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan has what it takes to take home the title of 2009 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year? Find out who the winner is at midnight eastern time Oct. 16th!