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2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line review (video)

Car buyers are spoilt for choice when it comes to mid-sized SUVs. VFACTS figures show this market accounts for about one-fifth of all new vehicle sales in Australia. This is thanks to the many hats they can wear for their owners; they can be practical, economical, sporty, and up for off-road adventures, all at once.

But if you’re on the hunt for one that turns elegance and performance levels up a notch, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line should be on your list. The Tiguan does not reach the top five in sales, likely because it has a premium price tag. But it could be justified by its premium styling, packaging, and performance.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Specifications

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder
Output: 162kW@6200rpm / 350Nm@1500-4400rpm
Gearbox: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 20×8.5, 255/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1699kg
Power-to-weight: 10.48:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 8.5L/100km
Our consumption: 8.6L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 58L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 19.05kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.04 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.49 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.57 seconds*
1/4 mile: 14.89 seconds at 153.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.861g*
100-0km/h braking: 34.94 metres at 2.79 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.211g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 42*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Starting price: $58,390

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: How much does it cost?

There is a smorgasbord of models to choose from. The range kicks off from $42,490 for the 110TSI Life. It gets a front-wheel drive, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine that produces 110kW/250Nm. Then the 132TSI Life gains 4MOTION four-wheel drive and a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo that outputs 132kW/320Nm.

Moving up and you will find the 147TDI in Elegance or R-Line spec. It’s packaged with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with AWD that extracts 147kW/400Nm. Higher again, the 162TSI is offered in three specs; the Elegance, Monochrome and R-Line. It goes with a zesty 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that pounces with 162kW/350Nm.

Finally, the flagship R and R Grid Edition excites with the familiar Golf R 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that belts out 235kW/400Nm. The 110TSI is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and all other models go with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. No manual gearboxes anymore.

To add another dimension of versatility, all drivetrains and trim levels, except the R, are available as a seven-seater Allspace for about $2000 extra. It is 225mm longer and extends the wheelbase by 110mm to make room for an extra row of seats and luggage space. You have to hand it Volkswagen for giving the Australian audience such a huge variety of drivetrain and trim options. We have the 162TSI R-Line on test here, which starts from $58,390 (all prices exclude on-road costs).

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Interior & packaging

One of Volkswagen’s many talents is in making neat-looking cars. The Tiguan’s external design comprises of linear contours and sharp creases that give off a sophisticated vibe. Rich LED lighting and sequential turning indicators also make the Tiguan look superior. And its upright posture and heightened wagon shape keeps it neat and conservative.

We love the large contrasting glossy black front and rear fenders and chrome front grille that integrates with the headlights seamlessly. Prominent exhaust surrounds morphed into the bumper and a large upper spoiler top the Tiguan off with a sporty touch.

Stepping inside, and the Tiguan reveals a higher level of class we expect to see at this higher price point, and without impeding on practicality. The layout is not too overstated, with symmetrical designs and flat surfaces that are mostly soft to the touch. Materials feel strong and premium, but it could do with more colour variation. Some brushed metal surrounds, glossy black panels, white leather seat piping, and customisable (30 colours) mood lighting at night in the front and rear (the rear misses out in many other rivals) helps to break up the monotoned grey.

In terms of usability of the space, it does very well. You get huge door pockets with bottle holders, large adjustable cup holders in the centre console, a handy tilted storage area in front of the gear shifter to stop items sliding, a decently-sized centre console with a height adjustable armrest lid that has been carried through from older generation Tiguans, and, not one, but four sunglasses holders plotted along the roof. That’s the most we’ve seen in any car.

There is enough room in the front and rear seats to keep a car full of grownups comfortable too. The leather seats with all their electric adjustments makes finding your comfy position easy. Of course, they are upgradable to Vienna leather upholstery as part of the luxury upgrade.

Rear passengers are well-considered with air-con temp controls, a rear seat on rails to adjust space where you need it at the time, and USB-C ports for charging devices.

Back to the front row, and you get a clean and easy-to-read 10.25-inch ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’ digital instrument cluster and a high-resolution 9.2-inch centre touch-screen with a finger proximity sensor and gesture control. It connects to an eight-speaker sound system with wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, digital radio, and sat-nav.

You can also upgrade to an optional sound and vision package that grants you with a Harman Kardon 10-speaker premium sound system, a 360-degree camera, and a retractable head-up display. Thankfully, there are still dedicated touch sensitive air-con buttons that are not integrated into the touch-screen. But disappointingly, there is no wireless phone charging capability.

Boot space is abundant in the Tiguan. Measuring at 615 litres, it’s one of the largest in the medium SUV market. Much larger than the previous generation Tiguan. In comparison, it’s bigger than the Hyundai Tucson’s 539 litres, the Mitsubishi Outlander’s 485 litres, the Mazda CX-5’s 438 litres, the Kia Sportage’s 543 litres, the Ford Escape’s 556 litres, and the Toyota RAV4’s 580 litres. Folding the second row down opens the space even
further with 1655 litres on offer. And they can be folded down from the boot or back seat to an almost flat position.

All Tiguan variants are competitively equipped, which justifies the slightly elevated starting price. As standard, all models get Volkswagen’s “IQ. Drive” which is a safety package that is made up of low- and high-speed crash avoidance with braking, pedestrian avoidance and reverse collision mitigation braking, adaptive lane guidance, adaptive cruise control, side collision assist, rear cross-traffic assist, and driver fatigue detection, among others.

Then the 162TSI R-Line that we’re testing here upgrades you to R-Line electric and heated front seats with electric lumbar support, easy entry and memory, heated R-Line steering wheel with “Touch” haptic feedback buttons (though, they feel a bit unnatural and cause you to look down when driving to check if you’re pressing the correct spot), 20-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights and premium LED taillights, and R-Line internal and external design enhancements.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Powertrain & handling

The 162TSI engine is a perfect middle ground engine for those who want their SUV with a bit of zest without being too excessive. As the name suggests it goes with 162kW that is reached at a high 6200rpm. And to boost take-off before the engine winds up, a solid 350Nm of torque unleashes from a low 1500rpm.

Behind the wheel, it packs plenty of punch for taking over and tackling steep inclines. It feels lively throughout the rev range and jumps to a demanding situation without delay. A 0-100km/h sprint is officially timed at 7.0 seconds. Our testing measured it in 6.49 seconds.

Widely applied to other brands under the Volkswagen Group empire, the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto is a heavy contributor to those punchy numbers. It churns through the gears pleasingly quickly under heavy acceleration. It also exhibits some improvements in control under tight and slow carpark inching situations with light acceleration.

Conventional autos don’t need any acceleration input to creep forward. Now, with less jerkiness and less take-off hesitancy under slow acceleration, this dual-clutch gearbox feels closer to what most of us are used to. Though, you do hear lots of mechanicals and clutches clunking around underneath under these conditions.

Fuel consumption takes a blow from this higher output engine when comparing to hybrid options out there. At 8.5L/100km, and for the need to use 95. RON petrol, it doesn’t compare brilliantly in the current market. Though, we’re happy to see that in our testing over about 700km in varying highway and city travel, our average was very close to the official score, with 8.6L/100km.

A headline act for the Tiguan is in its dynamics and ride. It absorbs bumps with flawless composure. Speed humps won’t slow you down in this SUV as it skates over them remarkably smoothly, with negligible bounce or clatter entering the cabin. Don’t worry, this does not mean it is ‘boaty’ or untidy around fast bends as a result. It is happy to be thrown around corners with attitude as it holds on like a shorter hatch with little body roll.

All Tiguans score independent, MacPherson struts with lower A-arms and an anti-roll bar at the front, and independent, four-link coil springs with an anti-roll bar at the rear. Then the 162TSI gains adaptive chassis control with electronically adjustable dampers.

All models are also equipped with electro-mechanical, vehicle speed and steering input sensitive power steering. But the R-Line variants gain progressive steering, which reduces driver effort required for low-speed manoeuvring and a more dynamic response to driver input on winding roads.

On those winding roads, there is loads of grip from the tyres and Volkswagen’s trademark 4MOTION four-wheel drive setup. There are a few driving modes to choose from, including snow and off-road modes. However, light dirt or gravel duties should be as far as you take it, due to large 20-inch and low-profile wheels. A space-saving spare wheel and a ground clearance of only 185mm also limits its exploration potential. Unexpectedly, the 162TSI R-Line offers the greatest ground clearance of all other variants.

Towing capability is surprisingly strong in the Tiguan compared with its competition. The 162TSI R-Line is rated to tow a maximum of 2300kg.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Key attractions/reasons to buy

The Volkswagen Tiguan is one of our favourite picks in the mid-sized SUV market. Although among the more expensive in its class, it comes with that German quality feel, more sophistication, and more features than most. And that is without taking away from being practical and liveable for the everyday.

Adjustable rear air-con controls standard in all models is uncanny in this market. And the adaptive chassis control offers an agile and comfortable ride – generous in a spec that is not the flagship R.

The 162TSI engine and gearbox are a sporty combo that work together to give the Tiguan a confident showcase of performance. We love the torque that comes in early in the rev range. Then that power is backed up by great ride and handling.

Volkswagen offers the industry standard five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and 12 months of free road-side assistance. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, and you can pre-purchase a five-year plan for $3200 or a three-year plan for $1700.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Key considerations before you buy

A downfall to the peppy 162TSI engine is that it trails behind in fuel consumption compared to its peers in the market. The other setback for many will be that the 162TSI is $15k more than the standard Tiguan.

Smaller issues to consider are that there is no wireless phone charger, the active shadowing high beam is not as reactive as some others on the market, and the haptic steering wheel buttons feel a bit unnatural; no feel means you need to look down at them to know what you’re pressing.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: Video

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Handling
  • X factor (does it stand out in its class?)

Final word

The Volkswagen Tiguan is one of our favourite picks in the mid-sized SUV market. Although pricier than most, that German quality feel, sophistication, and more features than most, justifies the price. The 162TSI R-Line adds a rare midrange performance upgrade without the excesses of the fully fledged R and without taking away practicality and being liveable for the everyday

Mark Davis

Mark's fascination with cars originated long before he was allowed to get behind the wheel himself. To him, cars are more than just a mode of transport; especially the ones that adopt purposeful innovations while preserving the joy of driving. With a master's degree in IT, he brings a tech-savvy perspective to our car reviews, particularly as the automotive industry embraces digital advancements. Mark joins Driving Enthusiast as a road tester after more than a decade at PerformanceDrive.

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