What is it?
Why would I buy it?
Sophisticated style, German build quality and engaging to drive
Why would I avoid it?
Pricey and not a roomy seven-seater
What is it?
The Volkswagen Allspace is the carmaker's first SUV for 2020 under the 2.0 strategy. The latter means there will be no diesel trim and hence, it is offered only with a petrol engine. Yet, it’s bigger than its five-seater version, gets more features and offers two more seats. But does that mean its outright better now and will be able to make a mark in the horde of seven-seater SUVs in India? We find out.
The overall proportions of the Allspace remain well-balanced despite being longer than the five-seater Tiguan. Despite the revised triple-slat grille and new LED headlamps with the striking DRLs, the Allspacestill has a typical VW face. Nonetheless, with a crisp design, great stance and styling cues like the five-seater model, albeit new dual-tone 17-inch wheels, the Allspace continues to be understated yet posh.
How is it on the inside?
The elegance continues inside with a spacious cabin. The layout is identical to the Tiguan with a commanding position and great view of surroundings. Though there still isn't use of too many soft-touch materials, the fit, finish and quality of materials continue to be the best in the segment. What's new is the fully digital instrument cluster that not only looks better than the previous analogue one, but is also easy-to-use and gives out more information too. Otherwise, the ergonomic cabin with a fair number of cup- and bottle-holders gets sufficient storage and stowage slots.
Leather seats are large, offer adequate support and are comfortable with a firm padding. The larger wheelbase has helped liberate more space inside now, while the panoramic sunroof continues to add to the sense of space. Now, there's sufficiently more legroom and knee-room, though shoulder-room remains the same. That said, it's still good to seat three adults in the second row with ease. However, getting into the third row is a big task and staying there is an even bigger one with very cramped-up space which can just about seat two kids at the back. But drop these seats and you get a luggage capacity of 340-litres sufficient enoughto accommodate luggage of five individuals for a trip.
Equipment-wise too, this single top-spec trim is well-packed with practical features like all-LED lamps, three-zone climate control, multi-functional steering wheel, cruise control, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, etc. Then, there are features like keyless entry, electrically adjustable driver seat, tray-tables, 60:40 split second row, multiple charging ports, powered tail-gate etc. that further add to the convenience. Yet going by the new-age features offered these days, VW should have offered wireless charging, 360 camera and automatic parking instead of just park assist. Nevertheless, this SUV has got even better on the safety front as it’s equipped with seven-airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, reverse parking camera, TPMS etc. which come as standard.
How does it drive?
The Tiguan Allspace is a petrol-only model powered by the brand's turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI engine. It's a silent one offering a meaty power output of 188bhp and 320Nm of torque. It comes mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission and 4MOTION as standard, which distributes power to the front and rear wheels. Getting off the mark is quick and smooth making you forget you are behind the wheel of a big SUV. The power delivery feels instantaneous, the engine is refined with good response to the throttle inputs and there's no unpleasant vibrations felt inside the cabin too.
Even the DSG gearbox makes the power delivery feel seamless and linear with its precise shifts. The car makes swift progress post the 2,000rpm, but having said that, it doesn't feel slow or bogged down ever, thanks to enough torque available from around 1,500rpm. Its strong mid-range grunt helps it stay ahead of traffic or overtake even a long vehicle confidently. Choose any of the driving modes from eco, normal, sport or individual and the in-gear acceleration is different across all. Of course, in favour of returning more fuel efficiency, the eco mode feels more subdued than the normal mode, but it gets better. In fact, it’s the sport mode where the throttle input response is spectacular. The revs are built faster, held on for longer and thanks to no delay in shifts, quicker progress can be made. One can also use the paddle-shifters for better control and a more engaging drive experience. Then, though the tachometer needle touches the 6,000rpm redline, the power tapers off post 4,200rpm and feels best to shift earlier. However, this is where the engine gets audible and yet isn't a dampener thanks to a pleasant engine note.
And it impresses with its ride quality that's nicely tuned to take on our road conditions with ease. Yes, there's still that little firm feel at low speeds due to which the ruts and sharp-edged potholes can be felt into the cabin. However, never did any of the occupants feel uncomfortable. Moreover, the side-to-side movement has also been kept to a minimum. Though a little vertical movement is observed at high speeds, it’s well-contained and the Allspace feels sure-footed at all times. What's more, there are off-road and snow modes that work smartly along with ESP and hill hold when the going gets tough. These driving aids even let one choose the pre-set driver settings for steering and throttle response from the touch screen. Furthermore, the 18-inch wheels and adequate ground clearance made sure we cleared all obstacles and bumps without any hesitation.
Despite the increase in length of the car, the Allspace continues to provide good handling like the Tiguan. With a light and precise steering, there's a good feedback that doesn't make you feel you are manoeuvring a big SUV. It feels very much connected and makes quick direction changes around tight corners. Even switchbacks or parking the car continue to be a hassle-free affair thanks to its quick steering unlike many other burly seven-seater SUVs. And this steering weighs up without much artificial feel at high speeds. Lastly, braking duties are handled well by all discs with a strong bite and good progression even under panic braking.
Should I buy one?
The Rs 35-40lakh on-road price bracket in India now has bigger and capable vehicles. Also, BMW, a brand that's perceived to be more premium, has made its X1 SUV quite accessible for people wanting to spend so much. So, apart from VW fans, it seems to be quite difficult for the German carmaker to fend off competition and attract car buyers towards the Tiguan Allspace.
Yet, its strongest suite lies in its sophisticated looks, immaculate quality, a comfortable cabin and an excellent engine and gearbox combination. And despite the increase in size, the driving dynamics remain fairly impressive. Like the Tiguan, it is quite agile to drive in the dense urban areas and is also capable enough to cover long distances easily at high speeds. And it's only fair to call the Allspace a 5+2 seater than a proper seven-seater, as the third row canonly seatkids or short adults who can always jump at the back when need be. Apart from the lack of some premium features and a low fuel economy, the Allspace makes for a well-rounded product.
Where does it fit in?
Priced at an ex-showroom price of Rs 33.13 lakh, the Allspace becomes the most expensive SUV from the brand in the Indian market. Its price also makes it go up against a mix of five- and seven-seater petrol, or even AWD or diesel SUVs in our country. This includes the Honda CR-V, Skoda Kodiaq, Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Mahindra Alturas G4 and even the BMW X1.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi