Latest Tiguan Gets Twin-Charge Power

By Lee Pang Seng
THE latest Volkswagen Tiguan was recently introduced here with a 1.4-litre TSI twin-charge engine to take over from the 2.0-litre turbo that was made available earlier in the previous model. Volkswagen Malaysia obviously wanted to attract more buyers to consider its Tiguan SUV, which was previously at a premium price close to RM250,000. Even though it was an imported all-wheel drive with VW 4MOTION system, it was still regarded as too pricey.

Coming in with a smaller displacement model, Volkswagen Malaysia has to ensure that the Tiguan 1.4 wouldn’t turn away potential buyers with a lack of performance in acceleration, although it may score well with good fuel mileage. That is where the twin-charge system comes in though this isn’t a newly developed one, having been introduced here in 2010 in the Golf and Scirocco 1.4-litre models. The twin-charge system uses the supercharger and turbocharger applications at various stages of the air-fuel feed design.

The use of an engine belt driven supercharger has its turbine compressing air and forcing it into the combustion cylinder with the fuel as soon as the engine is started. Thus, torque builds up early and quickly, and acceleration is strong from the outset. The exhaust gas driven turbocharger system, however, does not provide the same characteristics. It requires the engine to discharge sufficient exhaust gas to turn the turbine quick enough to compress the air and forcefeed it into the combustion chamber. A pause is encountered during initial acceleration before a sudden surge comes along when the turbine goes into full song.

When the two systems are combined, the car gains in good initial acceleration, progressing to a strong mid-range before the turbocharger takes over completely for the high speed drive. This is the power characteristic that VW engineers had in mind when it developed the 1.4-litre as a twin-charge unit many years ago.

The award winning VW 1.4-litre all-alloy engine comes with direct fuel injection, 16 valves and double overhead camshafts with variable valve timing. It is slightly oversquare with a 76.5mm bore and 75.6mm stroke to displace 1390cc. With twin-charging, the engine delivers 118kW (160PS) at 5800rpm and 240Nm of torque that comes real early at 1500rpm and holds till 4500rpm, impressive for a 1.4-litre engine.

While this engine was similar to that was used in the previous Golf and Scirocco 1.4 models, Volkswagen has gone back to the single charge (turbo) for those newer models, which delivered less power at 103kW/140PS while gaining in torque to 250Nm. The logic of using a small displacement engine has its benefits in the better fuel mileage when the power unit is doing light work during normal driving.

According to Volkswagen, the twin-charge output is more than enough to haul the Tiguan 1.4 with a kerb weight of 1551kg effortlessly to 100km/h from rest in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 198km/h. Its engine is coupled to a wet 6-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) – a dual clutch, direct shift transmission - to drive the front wheels (yup, it is a two-wheel drive for this model). In combined fuel consumption, it is said to return 14.0km/l (7.1 litres/100km).

We were invited to an impression drive of the new Tiguan 1.4 that covered a route from KL to Fraser’s Hill via Bentong, and the highway on the return drive via Rawang. There was certainly no lack of pace on the highway and open secondary roads with the twin-charge engine piling on the torque and power strongly. We could pass slower cars easily with the engine picking up the momentum quickly, revving smoothly and without much fanfare up to 4000rpm and beyond.

We might have driven a bigger engine displacement vehicle a few days earlier that gave the grunt for a quicker uptake of speed during initial to mid-range road speeds, but the Tiguan 1.4 wasn’t far behind. It would keep pace quite nicely by working just a little harder.

What impressed more was its confident pace through the winding stretches. By the way, the Tiguan name is a combination of two German words, tigua (tiger) and leguan (iguana): the first to denote ferocity or aggression and the second to denote good grip or traction. The second part of that equation was clearly enjoyed through the varying degree of corners, so much so that we got a little carried away.

We had approached a fast sweeper at above 140km/h, failing to realise that it tightened up a little in mid-corner. That had us drifting in a typical front-wheel drive understeer to the edge of the road. When we lifted our foot off the accelerator pedal momentarily, the rear left wheel ran onto the grass shoulder in an oversteer. We could correct the steering direction and ease back on the accelerator to continue the drive, not without a sigh of relief though.

As the Tiguan comes with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as a standard item, we believed that it did its part to help us regain the composure of this compact SUV and steer it away from trouble. We toned down our gung-ho style a little but the Tiguan remained a likeable SUV for winding road drives. There was hardly any body roll going through corners, suggesting that the anti-roll bars were thick enough to do the job for a relatively tall 1703mm SUV.

This impression was also noted when we were sitting at the rear, going through another long winding stretch on the downhill section from Fraser’s Hill. We were not tossed around like salad but could even enjoy the drive just by bracing against the foldable centre armrest. This unit is part of the 40:20:40 folding rear seat rests and you would have guessed it right if you figured that the centre armrest is the 20-portion of that ratio. With this design, we could access items in the luggage compartment when the centre armrest (which has two cupholders) is folded down.

Ride comfort is also enjoyed, thanks to the well balanced tuning of the suspension system. The Tiguan is independently sprung all round with the front having lower wishbones and the rear served by a multi-link set-up. The tyres shod on the Boston alloy wheels were 235/55 R 17 Dunlop SP Sports. The combination worked well over the bumps and road dips, with the compression and rebound over impacts largely controlled to make it comfortable for all on board.

Good insulation and the use of thick bushes in the right places have curtailed the intrusion of road noise and body air turbulence to a large degree. We could conduct a normal conversion while belting along on the highway, even up to 180km/h on open stretches. The roof rustle at the rear was reasonably well subdued for us to maintain communication with the front folks.

The Tiguan comes well attired in fittings: foldable trays behind the front seats, automatic stop/start system (we always like this one), regenerative braking to charge the battery, six airbags, electronic parking brake with auto hold (took a bit of getting used to), rear seats with fore-aft slide function and seatrest recline, among others.

The optional Tech Pack includes LED daytime running lights, dynamic bending illumination for the headlights, front and rear fog lights, rear view camera, ‘Climatronic’ air-conditioning system with two-zone temperature control, colour touchscreen with MP3 and six-CD changer radio system, to name some.

The Tiguan 1.4 remains an imported model although its price is a lot more attractive at RM178,888, with the Tech Pack model option going for an additional RM10,000. This is the price on the road without insurance. It has five colour options: Pure White, Reflex Silver, Titanium Beige, Pepper Grey and Toffee Brown.

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