Of course, should you live in such an area and venture only occasionally onto motorways and the like, you’re probably not considering a diesel in any case. And, indeed, this is not where the Tiguan TDI shines; there’s no mild-hybrid system here, which means no energy recuperation under braking, which in turn means you’ll no doubt waste as much fuel getting out of town as you would have saved over the course of the entire journey.
It’s not exactly what you’d call quick off the mark, either, lumbering from 0-62mph in 9.3sec, so there’ll be no gap-chasing in traffic nor sprinting between traffic lights. The Tiguan’s diesel option is paired exclusively with a seven-speed DSG automatic, which slips effortlessly between ratios on the open road but feels lethargic in stop-start operations, holding each cog for a tad too long at the top of the rev range, before offering up another all too suddenly. Even when pushing on, kickdown appears to elicit more noise than anything else, and while the illuminated S at the base of the shifter might catch the keen driver’s eye, Sport mode fails to tangibly extract any zip or verve from that four-pot motor.
Means of propulsion aside, this latest iteration of the Tiguan passes as a convincing value alternative to more ostensibly premium-oriented rivals. Say what you will about the gradual extinction of physical controls, but it doesn’t half make for an upmarket interior vibe (albeit one that’s harder to appreciate when you’re trying to turn the fan down at 70mph but keep activating the heated seat or demisting the windscreen). Our joint-top-rung Elegance trim test car’s panoramic sunroof made the cabin feel distinctly larger, while the plush dual-fabric seats felt sufficiently sized and bolstered to make long-distance driving the pleasurable experience you’d no doubt seek when specifying such a car. There’s little to take issue with in terms of material quality either, though the splashes of carbonfibre-effect trim might make more sense on the more aggressively styled R Line model.
Swipe-tastic dashboard and airy cabin aside, it’s hard to escape the notion that this diesel version of Volkswagen’s sales chart stalwart has become a bit of a dinosaur. Long gone are the days we’d recommend a diesel SUV for anyone but a private buyer – especially so here given the 37% business-in-kind rating that oil-burning motor incurs – but even that would come with some significant caveats now. Reconcile yourself to its shortcomings, however, and you are likely to find the Tiguan’s strong suits to be sufficient compensation.