A Road Test and Review of the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trend & Fun

A combination of the words ‘tiger’ and ‘leguan’ (German for ‘iguana’), the name ‘Tiguan’ was chosen from VW’s shortlist after the company received around 350,000 suggestions from readers of the German magazine, Auto Bild. We like the name, especially since others under consideration were Rockton, Nanuk, Samun and Namib.

With its somewhat muscular and purposeful stance, unique front and rear-ends, the Volkswagen Tiguan Trend & Fun is refreshing to look at when compared to other compact SUV’s such as BMW’s aging X3 and Honda’s ugly duckling, the CR-V. The Trend & Fun specification model comes with VW’s 16-inch San Francisco wheels, although there are some good looking 19″ alternatives available. The chrome grill surround, colour coded exterior mirrors and door handles, are standard across the range. Overall the Tiguan is well proportioned and stands out on the road.

Once inside you are hugged by supportive front seats. The optional electric seat adjustment on our test car meant an almost infinite number of driving positions are available and, when combined with the optional heated seats, made for a very comfortable journey, especially in the Cape winter. The interior is luxuriously appointed and we found the fit and finish to be excellent. The controls are in the right places and easy to use. The touch-screen radio is user-friendly and the 8-speaker system provides good sound quality, especially if you have an MP3 player, which connects via the auxillary connection in the centre armrest.

Rear passengers have ample leg room and a centre armrest with two cup holders. The rear seats are foldable in a 60/40 split, have recliner adjustment, and another feature is that they are longitudinally adjustable, i.e slide forwards and backwards. Boot space is 471-litres, or 1 510-litres with the seats folded forward, and should be enough for luggage for four, or your monthly shopping. Numerous safety-features including 6 air bags; anti-lock brakes; electronic stability programme; side impact protection and Isofix anchor points in the rear – which are all standard across the Tiguan range – contribute to its 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

At 200 mm, the Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trend & Fun has a fair amount of ground clearance when compared to others in its class. The ride height gives one a good all-round view of the road, however the relatively chunky c-pillar can be an obstacle on occasion. When combined with VW’s permanent four-wheel drive (4Motion) the Tiguan has the credentials, on paper at least, to deliver a competent off-road drive. However, and this is generally the case with the majority of SUV owners, we didn’t get to test it. Like most Tiguan drivers our time was spent almost exclusively in the urban jungle and on the black stuff. But the Tiguan feels at home on the tar. The ride is firm but comfortable and the 4Motion provides sure-footed progress, especially in the wet. Steering is direct and well weighted when on the move, thanks to the speed-sensitive power steering. However, we felt that the steering could’ve been lighter when maneuvering around town or in tight places.

Giving the Tiguan its legs is the world’s first direct-injection petrol engine with twin charging technology. The 1,4-litre engine boasts both a turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger. This innovative combination ensures power delivery throughout the rev range with little or no turbo lag and equates to more power but with better fuel consumption than a similarly powerful 2,0-litre motor. The 1,4-litre TSI produces 110kW at 5 800 rpm and a healthy 240 Nm of torque between 1 750 and 4 000 rpm. Although peak power is produced relatively high up the rev range, the good spread of torque makes the Tiguan an enjoyable drive – and this is the little 1,4-litre’s ace. At highway speeds you can cruise comfortably in 6th gear and cruise up most hills without having to stir the gearbox. Even when driving at urban speeds, the motor pulls in 5th and 6th gears from 80 km/h without complaint. The motor is responsive and speaks to the driver with a tenacious little growl. It’s just a pity the gearbox isn’t as slick as the engine it’s mated to. We found it to be notchy and, when hustled through the gears, somewhat clumsy.

We like…

  • Styling.
  • Well appointed interior.
  • Firm but comfortable ride.
  • Quality fit and finish usually associated with more expensive cars.
  • Great ‘little’ TSI engine, with its responsiveness and tenacious growl.

We would like…

  • Traditional parking brake, as opposed to the electronic one fitted, which seemed to behave inconsistently.
  • Better synchro’d manual gearbox, or VW’s accomplished DSG automatic.
  • Lighter steering at slow speed.
  • An auto-folding function for the relatively bulbous side mirrors – think tight parking spots or busy on-street parking.

Quick Facts

  • Engine Capacity: 1 390 cm³
  • No. Of Cylinders: 4-cylinders, in-line
  • Aspiration: Supercharged & Turbocharged
  • Power: 110 kW @ 5 800rpm
  • Torque: 240 Nm @ 1 750 – 4 000rpm
  • Drive type: Permanent four-wheel
  • Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 9.6 seconds (claimed)
  • Top Speed: 192 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.4 l/100km (claimed combined)

The Saving of NASCAR’s Jack Roush

It was Friday evening, and Larry and Donna Hicks were about to watch the six o’clock news in their lakeside home at Palos Verdes Estates outside Troy, Alabama. Hicks was a 52-year-old retired Sergeant Major with the Marines, now working as a conservation enforcement officer for the state of Alabama. He had arrived home from work half an hour earlier, and he and Donna had talked about going to a movie, but decided against it.

The TV news was just starting, when they looked out the window and saw a small plane flying down the shoreline of Palos Verdes Lake.

“I wonder if he knows about the power lines,” Larry said, just as the aircraft suddenly shuddered to a halt, flipped over, and headed straight down into lake. Hicks was already running out the back door as the plane hit the water, yelling behind to his wife, “Call 911! I’m going to see if I can help the pilot.”

Fortunately, Larry’s brother, Wayne, had left a 14-foot aluminum johnboat, with an electric trolling motor, at the lake in preparation for bass fishing that day, then had not shown up. Donna made the call to 911, and ran outside in time to see Larry commandeering the johnboat, headed toward the Air-Cam, which was about 100 yards off shore.

Years before, when Hicks had been stationed at the Marine Air Corps Station in Iwakuni, Japan, he had spent two-and-a-half months, part time, in an intense Search and Rescue program. A major got him into it because he thought Hicks would be good at it since he was muscular and into weight building. The training was specifically directed toward saving pilots who had gone down in water in fixed-wing or rotary-wing planes. Hicks learned how to get pilots out of planes that had crashed upside down. However, he remained in the telecommunications unit, and never had the opportunity to use his specialized training.

The engine of the Air-Cam was hot when it hit Palos Verdes Lake, and the airplane was smoking in the water. High octane aviation fuel from a ruptured fuel tank floated over the surface making greasy patterns. The back half of the aircraft and a broken wing were sticking up from the water. Hicks climbed out of the boat onto the wing and tethered a line to the plane to keep the boat from floating away. The heavy smell of gas assaulted his nostrils. It was only later that he thought about the danger of the plane blowing up.

The water was murky, and Hicks had trouble getting his bearings underwater. The plane had crashed in the middle of an underwater “stump field,” but luckily had missed hitting any trees. The first time down, Hicks ran out of air and was forced back to the surface without locating the pilot. The second time, he felt the back of the man’s neck under his hand. After another trip to the surface, he took a deep breath, and descended a third time.

Larry’s military training–the repeat drill of what to do until it became second nature–took over: “Locate Pilot, Extract Pilot…” Hicks felt for the pilot’s seatbelt; fortunately, it was one he recognized by feel from his training in the military. He released the belt, and the pilot floated into his arms. Hicks swam to the surface, pulling the man with him. The pilot had bones sticking through his legs, and his feet were turned the wrong way.

The man was bleeding through the nose and mouth, and was no longer breathing. He had drowned. The Troy police had arrived on the lake bank by now. Larry yelled to the officers,”He’s not breathing,” and he heard one police officer say to another, “He’s dead.”

Hicks hauled the man up against the wing that was sticking above the water and put a modified Heimlich maneuver under his ribs and pulled up to get the water out of his lungs, then started modified CPR. The inert figure coughed up water and blood, then on the fifth breath, started to breathe. “I’ve got him breathing again,” Hicks yelled to the rescue unit on the shore.

Hicks gripped the wing of the plane with his left hand, lying on his back in the water, supporting the pilot on his chest with his right arm to keep his head above water. He felt a stinging sensation from the aviation fuel, which worsened until he was in great pain. He found out later, the top layer of his skin had burned off.

The rescue unit brought out an extra boat, put the pilot on the backboard and floated him to shore. Larry tried to follow the four members of the rescue team as they walked out of the lake, but his legs gave way. He and the pilot were transported to the Troy hospital.

While Hicks was being treated for the gasoline burns on his upper body, he heard the helicopters arrive to airlift the pilot to the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham. After a decontamination shower, Hicks was released.

Word was out almost immediately that a light plane had crashed, piloted by celebrity Jack Roush, NASCAR and Winston Cup car owner since 1988. An aircraft aficionado, friends of Roush had arranged for him to fly the Air-Cam, a specialized aircraft built specifically for photography, as a birthday gift.

Roush was initially put on a respirator, with a trauma team working on him. He had inhaled water and gasoline and suffered closed-head injuries, rib fractures, a collapsed lung, compound fractures to his left leg, and broken ankles. He did not remember anything from the time of the accident until he woke up in the hospital that weekend.

Amazingly enough, six days after the accident, Roush was running his business by telephone from his hospital bed. By Sunday, he had arranged for Larry and Donna to be flown by private jet to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit him.

Six weeks later, Roush piloted a plane from his Michigan home and hobbled around on crutches at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware, overseeing his four-car Winston Cup team. Larry and Donna were by his side.

Larry Hicks has no doubt that a Higher Power was at work in Jack Roush’s incredible rescue. If the Air-Cam had hit the high tension power lines instead of the support wires as it did, the plane would have gone down in flames. If it had crashed on the ground or hit a tree in the underwater stump field where it landed, Roush would have been killed instantly. If Larry and Donna had gone to a movie that evening, as they had discussed, or simply been in another part of the house, they would not have seen the plane go down, and Jack Roush would have died. If Wayne Hicks had not left the johnboat ready to go, there would have been no rescue.

But, most amazing of all, Hicks was one of a small percentage of the populace with the specialized knowledge necessary to save a pilot in an upside-down plane from a watery grave. And, one other thing was necessary to save Jack’s life, which is that Hicks is a man of action who did not hesitate to put himself at risk to save a stranger’s life.

Epilogue

Larry Hicks was recognized with many honors as a result of his heroic rescue of Jack Roush, including the Marine Corps Medal of Heroism, the Carnegie Award for Heroism from the Carnegie Foundation, the Kiwanis International Robert P. Connally Medal for Heroism, and the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Medal for Heroism. The story of the rescue appeared in People magazine, and Larry and Jack were on the cover NASCAR Illustrated.

Larry exhibits great pride that he lived up to the United States Marine Corps Code of serving his country with Honor, Courage, and Commitment, with selfless service.

The Madness Chronicles – Episode 5

In this, our fifth episode of the Madness Chronicles, let’s remember madness is a state of being mentally ill, especially severely, extremely foolish behavior, and a state of frenzied or chaotic activity. Let’s take a look at our world today, amidst the wars on Christmas we just experienced.

Market Watch reports that Starbucks, who continues to jump through hoops to never mention the C word, has their ‘seasonal cups’ adorned with Merry Holidays and Merry Coffee, whatever that is? In other madness Variety magazine reports that Hallmark Channel is in big trouble. Seems they rejected an ad that featured two women getting married. Good for them. That is until the madness reached them and they capitulated and ran the ads.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the beginning of October, Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin tweaked the name of Charleston’s annual Christmas parade to something a bit more inclusive, the Winter Parade. She said the name was initially changed to show that Charleston is an inclusive and welcoming city with the desire to include everyone. However, once citizens around the area caught word of the change, debate and backlash began to surface. Complaints about taking Christmas out of the holidays or something equally as ridiculous began to surface, causing the city to revert the parade’s name back to Christmas Parade. Good for the Mayor to cut the madness.

Fortune Magazine reports that a new holiday ad for Pelaton, the technologically advanced exercise bike that cost much more than your first car, has created quite a controversy and caused the companies stock to drop. Many report the ad is sexist. It must be. The ad depicts a guy buying his wife the super duper exercise bike for Christmas and she loves it falling exhausted into his lap. Extremely foolish behavior… on the part of those complaining.

And finally, Breitbart London reports a gang of seven, peace loving Muslims, hanging around outside a Christmas Market in Augsburg, Germany, beat a firefighter so severely he died on the way to the hospital. The day following the attacks Breitbart reports 3 more fireman were killed by a remote controlled bomb in Milan, Italy. Islamists have a charming way of celebrating Christian holidays. Oh look at me, what am I saying? They blow themselves up on Ramadan.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and until next time… have fun, enjoy life, and watch out for the madness amongst us.