‘HY-ER ASPIRATIONS’ - Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid (2021 - 2023) Independent Used Review (Ref:214062)

‘HY-ER ASPIRATIONS’

Car and Driving’s Independent Used Review of the Volkswagen Tiguan eHybrid (2021 - 2023).

Added 24th November, 2023

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

Launched in 2021, the original AD/BW-series version of Volkswagen's Tiguan eHybrid used an established VW Group PHEV powertrain to deliver a 28 mile all-electric driving range and lots of e-drive options. It was the same sort of thing obvious volume brand mid-sized SUV plug-in competitors of the period offered, but here, the technology was delivered with a bit more polish. As a used proposition, there's lots to like if you don't mind the premium pricing.

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Models

5dr SUV (1.4 TSI PHEV)

History

The Tiguan eHybrid was a long time in coming. Volkswagen was talking about a PHEV plug-in version of its mid-sized SUV even before the AD/BW-series second generation Tiguan was first launched in 2016 and showed a Tiguan GTE prototype to gauge public reaction. This concept car had a clever roof-mounted solar module that potentially could add around 300 further miles to the all-electric range figure - which we were eager to see. Sadly, that technology never made it through to production. And probably wouldn't have been much use in drizzly Blighty anyway.

What we did get though in this finished Tiguan eHybrid model was plenty of cutting-edge technology, even though the powertrain used here wasn't that much different from the one first introduced in a Golf GTE back in 2014. Still, it was enough to sustain the Tiguan eHybrid until an all-new longer-range MK3 version arrived in late 2023.

What You Get

Unless you spot the extra charging flap or the distinct badging, you're unlikely to notice that this eHybrid variant is different from any other Tiguan. This PHEV model only came with the conventional five-seat body style and features all the visual updates applied to the MK2 Tiguan around the time of this PHEV model's launch. Which means you get a wide grille with an extra lower chrome strip that forges a visual link between the Tiguan and pricier Volkswagen SUVs such as the larger Touareg and the huge Atlas Cross Sport model sold in North America. The standard full-LED headlights which flank this appendage could optionally feature the company's latest IQ.Light matrix technology, which gives you 24 LEDs in each module.

From the side, you notice that this MK2 model Tiguan is larger than it looks - more of a rival to upper mid-sized SUVs like Ford's Kuga than to smaller mid-sized models like Nissan's Qashqai. Wheel sizes start with 18-inch rims, rising through 19-inchers to 20-inches in size on the top 'R Line' version. At the back, there are three-dimensional tail lights. Beneath these two-part lamps, the large tailgate extends to each side, while lower down, there's an integrated diffuser with a granite grey metallic finish.

At the wheel, there's a premium-style feel that you just don't get from most competing volume brand mid-sized PHEV crossovers from this period. You sit quite commandingly and the build quality and general ergonomics are difficult to fault. Through the leather-stitched wheel, you view an instrument panel that features Volkswagen's 'Digital Cockpit Pro' 10.25-inch high-resolution screen. This customises its layout to your preference in the presentation of the two main dials - which can be configured to show everything from efficiency stats to off road information. And you can separately individualise a display between them which can showcase a whole range of different data but which looks most sophisticated when it's showing a navigation map. There are various E-specific read-outs which you'll also find on the 8-inch 'Discover Media' centre screen (which original owners could upgrade to 9.2-inches). The presentation of this display is smart and what's behind it is equally sophisticated, based around Volkswagen's MIB3 media platform.

Enough on infotainment: what else might you need to know about the front cabin of this Tiguan? We talked about the near-premium feel earlier. True, if you really are being picky, you'll find some lower-grade scratchier plastics lower down the dash and the door cards, but for the most part, everything feels polished, classy and meticulously designed; take these narrow, precisely-worked aluminium frames around the air vents for example. Everything falls perfectly to hand and, predictably, the ergonomics are pretty faultless - take for instance, the subtle orientation of the dashboard towards the driver.

The back seat is one of the more spacious ones you'll find in the mid-sized segment from this period, but the main reason we like it is that Volkswagen integrated a sliding feature so that you can prioritise either legroom or boot space behind. That's something you have to do without on many rivals, even premium badged ones. There's 180mm of back-and-forth adjustment. Headroom's fine too - though you will compromise it a little if you get a car fitted with the optional panoramic glass roof. It's nice to note that the seatbacks recline for greater comfort on longer journeys. And the central transmission tunnel isn't as awkwardly prominent as it is in some competitors, so if you do have to accommodate three adults back here, things will be slightly easier for the middle occupant.

Out back, boot space falls by 137-litres because of the need to place the PHEV system's battery beneath the cargo area floor. That means a 437-litre boot capacity - though you can extend that via a standard ski hatch - or of course by folding the 40:20:40-split-rear bench.

What to Look For

Most Tiguan eHybrid owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you'll want to look out for. We came across a few issues with the DSG auto gearbox. Another owner reported faulty electric and various faulty sensors, plus problems with the GPS system. Apart from that, check for the usual things - interior child damage, scratched alloys etc. We've not come across any issues with the PHEV system, but just in case, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.

Replacement Parts

[based on a 2021 Tiguan eHybrid - inc. VAT] An air filter will be priced in the £8 to £31 bracket and a pollen filter will cost in the £6 to £28 bracket.. The brake discs we came across sat in the £95 to £242 bracket, with pricier-branded discs costing up to £357. Rear discs are in the £80-£140 bracket. Front brake pads are in the £38 to £88 bracket for a set. Rear pads are in the £26-£50 bracket. A starter motor is in the £103-£222 bracket; a thermostat is £15-£33; a headlight is around £254; a tail lamp is around £200-£234. A radiator is in the £194-£246 bracket.

On the Road

This plug-in petrol/electric engine is the same one that features in GTE versions of the Golf and the Passat from this period, which means that despite all the tech fanfare, it's based around mechanicals that back in 2021 the brand no longer used in its conventional models - a 1.4 TSI petrol engine and a DSG auto gearbox with only 6-speeds. The engineers did though, give this plug-in package a bigger 10.4kWh battery which powers an 85kW electric motor, which is why this Tiguan eHybrid's full-electric driving range when completely charged is rated at a reasonably class-competitive 28 miles. Which you won't get anywhere near if you ever approach the eHybrid model's theoretical all-electric top speed of 80mph.

This VW Group PHEV powertrain does as usual have to be paired with front wheel drive. And, as ever, various selectable settings govern the way you can use it. The car always starts off in fully-electrified 'E-Mode', before switching to a 'Hybrid' mode that sees the electric motor and the combustion engine combining together. As part of this setting, you've also a 'Battery Hold' option that will save battery charge until later in your trip; and a 'Battery Charge' setting (in which the battery will be charged as you drive by the TSI engine). There's also a press-on engine-only 'GTE' mode (even though this car isn't badged 'GTE'), this setting enabling a potential 62mph sprint time of 7.5s en route to 127mph. These sprightly figures reflect a total combined system output of 245PS, more than enough to offset the PHEV battery's 135kg weight penalty.

There are some neat touches too. We mentioned the 'Battery Hold' option earlier; well you may not need to use it very often thanks to the proactive navigation system. Once a route's been set, this will use GPS data and speed limits to work out how the powertrain should deploy its electrical power to best use. We also like the seamless way the engine cuts in when necessary. And the fact that when you need to rev it, it doesn't get as thrashy as some competitor units. The Tiguan doesn't take too kindly to being thrown about, but of more importance to most likely owners will be the supple ride and the impressive refinement.

Overall

It's puzzling why it took Volkswagen so long to bring us a PHEV version of this Tiguan, given that the technology it used had been around in a Golf since 2014. This powertrain does, after all make so much sense to the sensible conservative folk who tend to like this uber-sensible Wolfsburg mid-sized SUV.

A Tiguan eHybrid can't offer you the longest all-electric driving range in the segment amongst models from this period, but it does feel classier inside than rival PHEV versions of direct competitors from 2021-2023 like the Ford Kuga, the Peugeot 3008, the Citroen C5 Aircross and the Vauxhall Grandland. Yes, you could get an even smarter cabin feel by opting for a mechanically very similar Audi Q3 45 TFSIe, but that would cost a great deal more. For quite a few crossover customers tempted by the PHEV concept, what's served up here will be more than sufficient for their needs. It's a very complete package.

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Styling
  • Build
  • Value
  • Equipment
  • Economy
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Total (67/110)

Terms and Conditions:

  1. Emissions and efficiency data taken from official test results, where available, when new. Data shown is intended to provide a standard figure for comparing the relative fuel economy of different vehicles of a similar age and condition, and does not represent the average fuel consumption that will be achieved on the road. Actual figures will depend on factors including the age of the vehicle, how it has been maintained, road and weather conditions and driving style.