Let’s admit it, a majority of crossover owners prefer to keep their set of wheels on tarmac. Now if my ride costs Rs 37.30 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) like what the Volkswagen Tiguan Highline retails for, I would probably never let it taste dirt, so plunging through deep mud is certainly out of the question.
But what I do assure you is at the end of this story, you will know what the Tiguan’s off-roading manners have in store for you in case you’re planning some serious mud-plugging in it. Yes, you read it right. We decided to test its 4X4 capability at the ‘19 Degree North’ adventure sports club in Aamby Valley, and here’s the gist.
So we lined-up the Tiguan at the slushy start-line, slotted it into off-road mode and gassed it feverishly. The drama here (compared to tarmac) is more about the quantity of muck flying all around rather than picking up pace. Nevertheless, the 2.0 litre diesel engine with 141bhp and 340Nm of torque, coupled to an AWD system, took 6.74 secs for the 0-30 kmph run which was achieved in 30.57 m.
Once the Tiguan got into motion, it was steady progress all through. Which is certainly a feat especially when you factor the road-going tyres, but what also helps this car pull off such stats is the manner in which the electronics allow the power to be laid down on the muddy surface.
This was a tricky one since we had to find a stretch that had an elaborate run-off area, just in case we slid out of control while jabbing the brakes. We marked a suitable patch on the slushy ground and galloped to it at 30kmph before giving the brake pedal a fine kickboxing treatment.
The Volkswagen Tiguan came to a complete halt from 30kmph in a respectable 4.28 secs. It took 18.69m to perform the task and we noticed that the ABS kicked in appropriately without feeling intrusive. There was some uncontrolled sliding, but it goes without saying that these numbers would have been substantially better if the Tiguan came with purpose-oriented footwear.
We carved out a slalom track guided by cones and finally gave the go-ahead to the Tiguan. Off the mark, the VW quickly picked up pace around the first three cones. But by then, the tyres which sport less tread block clearance began to get covered with mud (like slicks), which prevented any sort of grip around the next two cones. This portion was slushier and found us massively understeering.
After finally weaving our way back to the first cone, we were able to complete the test in 43.69 secs. What’s appreciable about the Tiguan is its nimble behaviour thanks to it being a light car. Plus the accurate steering made it easier to manoeuvre through the obstacles overall. We could constantly hear the ESP working in the background to avoid loss of traction.
As you’d know, the beaker test serves to check how much movement there is within the car while off-roading. We took to a rough trail that was filled with ruts, rocks and also a few streams passing by. The monocoque construction of the Tiguan coupled with the well-judged suspension set up makes for a slightly stiff ride on tarmac. It was surprising to see it spill only 25ml on this trail.
It also needs a mention that the 235/55 R18 tyres are pretty much on-road tyres. And the only concern is the lack of side-wall which could allow rocks to damage it. So, going easy is key.
Off-Road Hill climb
The playground we chose to do the hill climb on turned out to be dangerously slippery since it had been raining for hours. Despite having adequate ground clearance, the slightly low-set nose gave our spotter a tough time to guide the Tiguan to conquer the ruts and rocks without causing any harm to the front end.
Off the mark, the Tiguan ploughed through the wet mud and the scattered rocks. Armed with the flatter acceleration curve in ‘off-road’ mode and a steady throttle, it gradually progressed through the stage. All throughout, we could hear the system braking certain wheels for better traction while the Tiguan charged up the crest. At the end, we looked back over our shoulders and silently applauded the Tiguan.
I have to admit that I was paranoid about venturing into some of the most treacherous terrains in the expensive Volkswagen Tiguan. However, it was only in the hill climb test that we were actually worried about damaging the car. Plus we need to understand that using off-road specific tyres could make a substantial difference.
We have proved that if and when there’s ever a requirement for an off-road adventure, the Volkswagen Tiguan will take you further and perhaps deeper than even you may be willing or want to go. At the end of this season’s CarWale Off-Road Day, and while departing the scenic venue, I stopped to look back at the Tiguan, with immense respect.
Click here to read Carwale Off-Road Day 2017 introduction
Click here to read about the Spotter's View at the CarWale Off-Road Day 2017
Location courtesy: 19 Degree North
An adventure sports outfit located at Aamby Valley City near Lonavla that offers activities like riding ATVs, paintball shooting, Zorbing, and Jungle Safari among others.