Volkswagen Tiguan R

Volkswagen Tiguan R road test review - hero front
Volkswagen Tiguan R road test review - hero front

It’s an obvious move – one we’ve often discussed here at Autocar. But for various reasons it has taken Volkswagen close to 13 years to bring the R name and the performance-enhancing modifications for which it is now quite well renowned to the Vokswagen Volkswagen Tiguan line-up.

There have been various R styling lines for the Volkswagen SUV down through the years, of course. But with a further developed version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine used by the Volkswagen Golf R and more recently introduced Volkswagen T-Roc R, the new Tiguan R is easily the most powerful and the fastest variant of Volkswagen’s best-selling SUV yet.

Power peaks at 316bhp, with torque building to 310lb ft on a range of revs between 1200rpm and 5200rpm. To put this in perspective, the next most powerful petrol model in the facelifted Tiguan line-up develops a more modest 148bhp and 184lb ft.


Drive is sent through a standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with both manual and automatic shift modes and a newly developed version of Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system featuring a torque-vectoring function on the rear axle, which allows it to individually alter the amount of drive sent to each rear wheel.

Visual differentiation from the rest of the second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan line-up comes via a uniquely styled front bumper and other exterior elements featuring design cues similar to those seen on different R models, including standard 19in wheels.

Subtle changes brought to all new facelifted Tiguan models include a more advanced version of VW's MEB infotainment system, which supports wireless Apple CarPlay and live traffic data, multi-coloured ambient lighting and a touch-sensitive digital control module for the climate functions along with a number of typical R equipment upgrades.

There are R-specific digital instruments that change colour depending on the drive mode, sport seats and a multi-function steering wheel with haptic feedback controls – including an R button that allows you switch directly into Race mode – together with stainless-steel pedal caps and unique dashboard trims. Apart from some hard plastic panels below your usual line of sight, it’s a pleasingly functional and quality driving environment.

The Tiguan R is very straightforward to drive, with a broad set of characteristics depending on the chosen drive mode: Comfort, Sport or Race.

The engine, with its inherent smoothness and impressive flexibility, is at the very root of the dynamic appeal, delivering relaxed part throttle and truly urgent qualities under load. There’s great linearity to the way the transversely mounted unit revs, and the gearbox delivers lightning-fast shifts in any of the two more performance-oriented driving modes.